FilmmakingLess Monolith, Más Latina
June 29, 2021
In creator and star Janeva Zentz’s own words, absurdist comedy Más Latina follows fictional comedienne Gabi, “a thirty-something Latina with zero children, zero romantic prospects, and one standup comedy dream, who struggles to find her artistic voice.”
Zentz set out to share a more nuanced view of Latina femininity — with a comedic spin. The series has been recognized at the 2021 SeriesFest: Pilots in Progress program, where audience members share their feedback with the creator. Zentz and I sat down for a casual chat about Más Latina:
Are there similarities between you and heroine Gabi?
Yes and no. It’s cathartic because I’m working out issues I have of not feeling adequate as a Latina. So she has to feel that in some way, in order for me to work out the story.
Where did the idea for the series come from?
I live in this gray area. (And frustration with it.) Being told I’m 'ethinically ambiguous' [...] and then not feeling like I can 'be' Latina. But I speak better Spanish than some of my cousins, who look more Hispanic than I do. So what are we talking about here? What are the markers, and why do they matter?
One day I made this candid character sketch. I put on a wig and I did sort of a Sofia Vergara impression, and the title of the video was How to Be Más Latina. [...] And for me it was making fun of this stereotype of a Latina always having to be sexy and dolled up — but she’s also the homemaker, the one who cleans the toilets and cleans the house. Just how strange is that you have to wake up in full-face makeup, attractive 24/7, and realizing that’s one of my insecurities. I don’t want to do that.
What’s most exciting about being selected for the SeriesFest for the Pilots in Progress program?
I’m very excited about the survey. Folks will be able to rip [Más Latina] to shreds. I honestly want to know which character do you like, what am I not aware of, what am I not seeing? Is there an audience for this? I think there is. I’m really open to that feedback and wanting to incorporate whatever notes I can into other iterations of it or pitches.
Why was Seed&Spark the right choice for your crowdfunding campaign?
I really loved that every campaign gets vetted before it goes live. I was pooping my pants about doing a crowdfunding campaign. And it helped to take that leap of faith and know there are some guardrails in the wild west of crowdfunding.
Gabi finds her voice through the series. Have you uncovered something about your voice through the process?
Yes. I think that I’m cornier than I thought. I’m very anti-cheese, and I don’t like cheeseball stuff. But I ended up writing some of it, and going in that direction. The beauty of collaboration is people push you to go a little further.
Where would you like the series to go?
I made this to learn, to get experience, to make something I actually love. My hope is that it somehow gets picked up by some streamer. There are lots of emerging platforms for the Latinx community, and maybe that’s a home for the series. [...] I’m really just open and hoping for the best.
Why is this series important for folks to see today?
I made Más Latina because at the time there literally wasn’t anything comedic that was Latinx. (Now there’s a few shows.) It was more drama, like Narcos.
Also — this isn’t so obvious in the pilot — I want it to be about the Central American experience. Because there really is a Chicano (if you’re Mexican-American) experience; that’s a very specific thing in Southern California. But in my case everyone’s a mix of different cultures within Central America and also Mexico. Different foods are being eaten, different slang is being spoken.
I think Latinos are seen as this monolithic culture. [...] But it’s so vast, and it’s quite interesting and fun to play with all of that. And I think it’s important to have all that out there. I want to see it.
Más Latina is “a hella spicy intersectional safe space to rally for a female lead who isn’t defined by romantic relationships, but by a selfish pursuit to entertain and live fast and free on the stage.” And you can watch the pilot now through July 11th via SeriesFest.