‘Gente-fied’: Web Series That Explores Boyle Heights’ Changing Landscape

By David Villafranca, EFE Services

The gentrification of the historic Boyle Heights neighborhood serves as the basis for the new web series “Gente-fied”, which according to America Ferrera, one of the show’s stars, uses humor as it tackles identity and generational conflicts for Latinos in the United States.

“I read the script and I laughed, cried and saw my experiences mirrored. The kind that I identify with a lot and that I have not seen represented before in television and films”, Ferrera said who was also the new series’ executive producer that premiered this week at the Sundance Film Festival.

Lea este artículo en español: ‘Gente-fied’: Serie Web Que Explora Cultura De Boyle Heights

The 32-year-old actress, of Honduran descent, said she grew up in Los Angeles and knows the struggle of wanting to “embrace” the American culture, but from the “deep roots” of a traditional Hispanic family.

“It is a conflict, a sort of identity problem that is very much present in ‘Gente-fied’”, Ferrera pointed out.

Set in Boyle Heights, the series alternates from English to Spanish, exploring the effects of gentrification through seven characters. With light-hearted humor, issues such as the financial burdens of small business owners due to unstoppable rent increases are presented as well as the challenges of a gay Chicana artist.

Gentrification, the process by which the traditional inhabitants of an area are displaced by another population with higher purchasing power, is a matter that the series does not only show from an economic perspective but through its effect on the culture and daily lives of Latinos.

“One of my favorite episodes is the one about a mariachi group, who has played in the Mariachi Plaza for a long time. But when the youth and the ‘Chipsters’ (Chicanos and hipsters) move into the neighborhood, no one wants to listen to the old ‘boleros’ and the mariachi start to play ‘I Want It That Way’ by the Backstreet Boys,” Ferrera said.

The uniqueness of Boyle Heights, a landmark of Chicanos in Los Angeles is also an aspect highlighted in the show.

“When you go to Boyle Heights, the culture is so rich that you almost feel as if you’ve left Los Angeles and have entered a microcosm in another world,” she said.

“The first film I did was completely shot in Boyle Heights, but (the neighborhood) has changed a lot,” Ferrera recalled referring to the new “artsy” businesses and “trendy coffee shops” that have changed the area’s ecosystem.

The all-Latino cast also includes Alicia Sixtos, Edsson Morales, Sal Velez Jr. and Victoria Ortiz. Gente-fied was created by Marvin Bryan Lemus and co-written by Lemus and Linda Yvette Chávez.

 

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February 2, 2017  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.

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