Chicana Writer Strikes Back

The beauty of the WGA strike is that you don't have be a WGA member to join us; we don't discriminate

By Jessica Lopez
Published on LatinoLA: November 13, 2007

Chicana Writer Strikes Back

Dear Mr. Hernandez:

This letter is in response to your editorial piece entitled, "White Writers Strike." First off, I want to inform you that I am a Chicana and a writer who is involved in the current WGA strike. So despite your beliefs, this is not a "white writers strike." This is a writers strike - one that includes writers who are white, black, brown, young and old.

You've probably noticed that there are "very few people of color on those picket lines or very few over 40" because you've been sitting on your couch, in front of your TV set, watching the strike and not participating in it.

As you're well aware, on November 5th, thousands of film and television writers decided to strike. We simply want to be paid when producers make money from the additional use of our intellectual property. I've had the pleasure of meeting many new writers this week and I can assure you that they are from all walks of life and are not "silver spoon fed 30 somethings," as you strongly believe. Though there could possibly be a few of them out there, most of us are just middle-class writers trying to earn a respectable living.

I understand your frustration by the lack of Latinos (and other people of color) on TV and behind the scenes, but we do exist. Many of my friends are "minorities" staffed on shows like The Office, Medium, Samantha Who? and Grace. Your comments are an insult to me, to them and to other writers like Luisa Leschin (George Lopez), Nancy De Los Santos (Gotta Kick It Up) and Peter Murietta (Greetings from Tucson, Wizards of Waverly Place) who have worked tirelessly to assure that our unique voices are heard and that our "raza" is represented in Hollywood. By the way, they're all walking the picket lines, too.

Furthermore, I can't believe you would be so insensitive as to comment that "minority writing internship programs are for the comedically challenged and that they are like a writers Special Olympics for third string wannabes."

I agree that a writer should be hired because they're a good writer and not because of the color of their skin. But I believe that these programs are an excellent way for a young, inexperienced writer to hone his or her craft before jumping into the professional world. To be honest, maybe your comment upset me because I am one of those "third string wannabes" who got my foot in the door through a diversity writing program.

I wanted to be a TV writer ever since I can remember. I used to watch Charlie's Angels as a little girl and wonder why none of them looked like me. It made me realize that that people on TV should look like me, too. And that's why I decided to pursue a career in TV writing.

After years of writing numerous spec scripts and meeting with every Hollywood executive in town, I was finally hired as a staff writer at a hit show on the Disney channel. I was hired by gringos who do care about diversity in the room. And guess what? Eight out of the eleven writers I worked with in the room are "minorities."

As a result, I was invited to join the Writers Guild of America. I agree with you, it isn't easy getting into the WGA. But I can assure you that it had nothing to do with the color of my skin or any of so-called exclusionary politics. A couple of well-written, produced scripts will get you in, too.

I also want to comment on one of your final statements: "If I were in the writers guild I would love to walk the picket line. I've had lots of experience walking them with the farmworkers back in the day when the struggle for Latino Civil Rights were for many families do or die."

My father was a farmworker. He walked that picket line, too. And now it's my turn, even if it means being unemployed. My job now is to walk the picket lines with my fellow writers and fight for what's right. We don't know when this strike will be over. We don't know when our next paycheck will come. But one thing we do know for sure is that we're in this writers strike together - whether we're white, black, brown, young or old.

You know Mr. Hernandez, the beauty of this strike is that you don't have be a WGA member to join us. We don't discriminate. So with that said, come on out and grab a "cutesy" picket sign. I personally invite you to walk the line with this CHICANA.

About Jessica Lopez:
Jessica Lopez was staffed as a writer at Lowrider Magazine for six years. She has since written on Disney Channel's hit shows "That's So Raven" and "Cory in the House."

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