Following a sneak screening of a hilarious episode from the upcoming third season of Superstore, NALIP’s Latino Media Fest hosted a conversation with the two Latina writers on the show, Sierra Ornelas and Vanessa Ramos. Although both of them have extensive resumes working in television – Ramos on multiple Comedy Central Roasts and Bordertown and Sierra on shows like Happy Endings – this is the first show where they have had the opportunity to work alongside another woman of color, or any other person of color for that matter.
This points to the fact that more often than not, writers’ rooms at major networks only allocate one slot for a diversity hire, creating a counterproductive sense of competitiveness between talents of color. Rather than building a community, this practice isolates them by making it seem there can only be one person of color on the team at a time. Having someone else with a similar background and perspective can validate ideas and provides a louder voice in terms of the topics and stories being told, as both Ornelas and Ramos can attest.
From getting a chancla gag included in the show to promoting the idea that diversity is a good business model, both writers share lots of tips on how to break in and navigate the white world of writers’ rooms, advice that can be applied to many other creative pursuits. Here are some highlights from the Latino Media Fest session.