The Georgetown Latinx Leadership Forum (LLF) hosted an event titled “Latinx Leadership in Modern Media,” exploring the role of Latinx developers and writers working in the digital media and entertainment industry, on Sept. 30.
The discussion was one of 11 events organized by the LLF and other student groups during Latinx Heritage Month, which takes place between Sept. 15 and Oct. 15 of each year.
The panel included three Latinx Georgetown alumni–Julian De La Paz (SFS ‘15), Zoey Needham (COL ‘19), and Jimmy Ramirez (COL ‘15)–and was moderated by Carlos Rosario (MSB ‘23) and Leo Texeira (COL ‘21). The discussion began with each panelist describing the journeys that got them to their respective positions.
De La Paz, who develops podcasts for Spotify, detailed the upward battle he faced in finding a place in the media industry. He credited Missy Foy, director of Georgetown Scholars Program (GSP), as a mentor who was instrumental in helping him navigate the media industry.
When De La Paz was accepted to the NBCUniversal Page Program and was asked to move to New York in two weeks’ time, GSP used its networks to find an alumna who welcomed him to live at her family’s house for two months while he found his own housing in the city. The key to success, De La Paz explained, was the individuals who supported and advised him during his sometimes-difficult path toward a career in media. “It always goes back to the people,” he said.
A current post-production assistant for Walt Disney Television, it took Needham some time to realize she wanted to work in the entertainment industry. She was still a pre-law student when she decided to enroll in the Music Department’s “Guild of Bands” course for fun because she liked to sing. Describing the class as an eye-opening experience, Needham began to merge her passion for social justice with her newfound love of music. After graduating, she worked to organize initiatives for social good at the Creative Artists Agency Foundation Department, her first job in the entertainment industry.
Needham described the difficulties of being a woman of color in an industry dominated by white men. She is the only person of color on her team of 20 people, and one of only two women.
The panelists also discussed the role of Afro-Latinx identity within the broader Latinx community. Ramirez said there is still anti-blackness in the Latinx community, and there is always more work to be done. He pointed to a group of Dominicans working at Google that came together to celebrate Dominican Independence Day. While the event does not represent the entirety of the Afro-Latinx community, Ramirez explained that it exemplifies an effort to build Afro-Latinx community within the corporate space.
Needham, who is Afro-Latina herself, spoke about some of her own experiences. Poignantly, she said that when she mentioned participating in this panel, some people questioned if she was Latinx enough to participate. While her own company has a lot of work to do in this area on multiple fronts, according to Needham, simply being herself in order to create room for growth is important to her.
Reflecting on her time at Georgetown, Needham said she wished she had focused more on developing hard skills by taking more coursework in economics and statistics, also mentioning that she was considering getting an MBA. Ramirez’s response focused on mental health, and he mentioned that he wished he had started going to therapy sooner, which he did not do until his senior year. De La Paz echoed the importance of mental health but, in contrast to Needham, wished he had relaxed more during his senior year and spent more time with friends.
The LLF is holding several other events throughout the month including community virtual outreach with the Federal Training Institute on Oct. 7 and Oct. 8, a Latinx movie screening on Oct. 10, and a Latinx Town Hall on Oct. 15. Specific information about these events can be found on the LLF’s Instagram account.