Staff Picks: Firsts

I wanted to include an editor’s pick so y’all, our beautiful viewers, can get to know us, the amazing staff behind Mixed Mag. I also wanted to showcase our TV/Film/Theater picks because although it may feel like all you see are white stories or stories of the oppressor, our stories have been here for a while and are extremely diverse and expand over all genres. There is not one specific way to tell our stories and we deserve to be seen and heard. So here is a list of TV/Film/Theater made by or featuring beautiful BIPOC/multicultural/multiethnic artists to expand your mind, start a conversation, or even spark something in your soul. Each month there will be a new theme for our Staff Picks. 

— Maya Renee Castro (TV/Film/Theater Editor)

Issue 6’s Theme: Firsts… (what’s the first TV Show/Movie/Play you remember that was created by or starring a BIPOC cast that impacted you?) 

Maya Renee Castro (TV/Film/Theater Editor)

Film: The Joy Luck Club (1993) Dir. Wayne Wang

Where to watch: iTunes, Amazon Prime Video

The Joy Luck Club is about a group of older Chinese women who meet regularly to play Mahjong and share their stories. As they share their stories, each of their daughters share their stories of growing up and learning from their mothers. This movie is about the strength of women, the beauty of being an immigrant/child of an immigrant and the ups and downs of mother-daughter relationships.

The first time I saw this movie I was in a very hard and difficult point with my mother. Our relationship has its ups and downs, and in this down moment The Joy Luck Club made me release a lot of emotions that I was holding in. Not only did this movie help me release, it helped me realize that there is more than one way to tell or see a story. So many times as I grew up, I watched movies where the stories were featured around white families. And yes family is a universal theme but there is something different about being non-white or having a culture that is different than the “main stream” culture that is usually promoted. I am not Chinese and I will never understand the complexities that come with growing up in a Chinese family, but growing up in a mainly “white world” and trying to get rid of your culture to fit into this “white world” is something I could relate to. Learning to love your culture and where you come from is something I could relate to. Having a difficult relationship with my mother, is something I could relate to. There were little things in this film I could relate with and it made me realize that I have so many stories inside myself that others may relate to. After watching this I decided that the world is big enough for other stories that aren’t just about white families, and it made me want to sit down and finally write. The Joy Luck Club has a special place in heart (and after a lot of hard work and communication so does my mom) 

Stephanie Eyocko  (Food Editor)

Show: The Proud Family (2001) 

Where to watch: iTunes and Disney+ 

When I first moved to the United States of America, one of the first shows I watched with my siblings was The Proud Family. It was easy to follow for a non-native speaker like myself and it was reflective of my family to the point where I thought everyone’s grandmother lived with them in the States (later finding out that was not true).What I enjoyed  most about the show was that  it was one that the entire family could watch–together. 

Tayo Omisore (Poetry Editor)

Show: The Proud Family (2001)

Where to Watch: iTunes and Disney+ 

Need I say more? No, but I love talking about Proud Family anyway. How is no one talking about this series, which was Disney Channel’s FIRST original animated show, is turning TWENTY this year? I need a moment, damn. I still use the laughing emoji, I need to soak in this millennial nostalgia for a second. I implore anyone reading this to rewatch a couple episodes of The Proud Family, simply to remember how good the show was and maybe life in general. My recs: the one where they had Alicia Keys, the one where they had Bernie Mac, the one with Lil Romeo, OR the iconic Black History Month episode. To complete the vibe, redownload Limewire and rip the theme song onto your phone, just like the good ol’ days. 

Brittany Zendejas (Intern) 

Film: Real Women Have Curves (2002) Dir. Patricia Cardoso

Where to watch: HBO Max, Itunes, Amazon Prime Video 

This film is about a first generation Mexican-American girl as she enters womanhood. She dreams of going to college but her family believes she needs to stay and help provide for the family. Ana compromises and starts working with her mother at a sewing factory over the summer. While she is there, she learns important lessons about life that will help her make decisions in the future. 

I remember the first time I watched this movie as a young girl, a girl who had dreams and aspirations that only my diary knew about. I thought Ana was strong and resilient but I also understood the pressure she was under from her family. As a Mexican-American woman who has struggled with my own dreams and my family’s desires it was powerful to see that dichotomy on screen. Whenever I struggle with my future, I always think about what Ana would do. 

REAL WOMEN HAVE CURVES, America Ferrera, 2002, (c) HBO

Joana Meurkens (Artistic Director)

Show: 6teen (2004-2010)

Where to Watch: Previously on Cartoon Network (now on Tubi for free!)

I cannot begin to tell you the amount of unfiltered amount of joy this animated show brought elementary school era Joana. If you are in my bracket of Gen Z, you are most likely familiar with the Canadian animated comedies that graced Cartoon Network such as Total Drama Island and 6teen. 

6teen was a blast, I would always rush home to see what this group of cool Canadian teens were up to. This diverse group of friends would hangout at a mall and had jobs (or were famously unemployed) that matched their personalities. The group of 6 were eclectic and silly, pretty much what I thought teenagehood would be like. Half of the characters were people of color, which honestly even for an animated show seemed unheard of. This show meant so much to me because the diversity seemed normal, not made to be tokenized in any way. I would watch this and insert myself into the story, seeing how I would handle the shenanigans of the friend group, and wait for the day that I too would be an ever so cool sixteen year old. The group included Wyatt, a laid back guy who worked at a record store with a crippling coffee addiction, Jude, the blueprint skateb stoner kid who was very much the lovable doofus, Nikki, the vocally anti-establishment cool girl who I think is the reason that I got into the big pants small shirt trend, Jen, the type-A sporty chic who a narc but you forgave her for it, Caitlin, the Canadian equivalent of a Valley girl who spent her days working at a lemonade stand, and Jonesey, the fuck boi who was incapable of holding down a job.

To this day this show makes me laugh. Canadians sure know how to make a good television series geared for tweens but with humor that clearly a room of adults curated for themselves. When I think about it, this show is definitely responsible for some of my personality traits, and my deep love for hanging with the homies. Go watch it on Tubi (it’s the first time I’ve heard of it too) for free!

Carolina Meurkens (Editor-in-Chief) 

Show: Everybody Hates Chris

Where to watch:  Hulu

Growing up, my sister and I would spend summers with our cousins in Brazil and strangely enough, Everybody Hates Chris would play on repeat on Globo. This Brazilian TV Channel was and remains to be the most popular TV Channel playing children’s shows in the morning, telenovelas in the afternoon, news throughout the day, and a midday selection of dubbed American TV shows and movies. Although Brazil has a huge population of Afro-descendants, colorism and racism is pervasive in all walks of life, including media. Most telenovelas don’t show dark skin Afro Brazilians as main characters or cast in a positive light. Everybody Hates Chris or “Todo Mundo Odeia o Chris” was a glimpse into Black American culture. It was interesting to see how my cousins and friends reacted to watching Black TV characters and how the show contributed to their limited understanding of Black Americans. To many Brazilians, the show represented something entirely different than what they were consuming in their own media: a proud, close-knit Black family, a thriving community, and an everyday kid navigating his own identity.

Taylor Mew (Associate Art Director & Graphic Designer)

Show: That’s So Raven (2003-2007)

Where to watch: Disney+

This show impacted my childhood immensely, because it taught me that I could be unapologetically myself in this world the same way Raven’s character was unapologetically herself in hers.  

Watching a BIPOC cast with nuanced characters and storylines who looked like me, spoke like me, had hair like mine, etc had an extremely powerful impact on me as a child. The media we consume as children (as well as throughout our lives) has the ability to shape how others view us, but also how we view ourselves. That’s So Raven was integral to building my self worth as a black child. 

I have a vivid memory of the That’s So Raven episode “True Colors” where Raven doesn’t get hired at a clothing store because she’s black. To this day I can still hear the voice of the woman who played the racist recruiter telling her that she couldn’t work there because she “didn’t hire black people”. Thankfully Raven got to expose her racist ass later in the episode by going undercover. Having an episode that showed institutional racism for what it is prepared me for the racism I was to experience throughout my childhood. 

I know that none of us claim Raven Symone present day, but I’m grateful for what she represented to me as a child and what her show still represents for me today: the importance of representation for BIPOC in entertainment media. 

Kimber Monroe (Director of Operations) 

Show: In The Heights (Lin Manuel-Miranda)

When I think of the first show to impact me, I think about my theater roots rather than a TV show/movie. (My mom cancelled the cable when I was nine and we were Netflixing it every two weeks or so…so…) I remember hearing about In The Heights when I was 12 years old. I was actually also on Broadway at the time, in the Lincoln Center revival of South Pacific, and it was my first time being immersed in theater and the politics of Broadway. So hearing about this BIPOC/POC show in 2008 was a big deal. When the soundtrack came out, I memorized every word, I re-enacted scenes based on what I heard about the show and the couple of Youtube clips I’d seen of the show in my dressing room and at home. And for my 13th birthday, my mother picked me up from a Sunday matinee and surprised me with tickets to In The Heights for their Sunday evening performance. It was the best birthday ever. It was the best show I’ve seen on Broadway to date (yes I say that firmly, that cast blew me away) and it showed me that Broadway has the tools and the resources to feature more BIPOC/POC. It showed me that any boundaries put up can be broken.

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