On Netflix’s upcoming dramedy Gentefied, the young adults of East L.A.’s Boyle Heights neighborhood listen to a podcast called Brown Love about reclaiming the Latinx narrative, self-love, and empowerment. Next week, the streaming giant is launching Brown Love, a podcast that will piggyback on many of the themes Gentefied brings up and expand them to include other Latinx experiences in the U.S.
Hosted by Dominican-American actor Dascha Polanco (Orange Is the New Block), the six-episode weekly series will feature wide-ranging conversations with other Latinx Netflix actors about a variety of topics, like the first-generation experience and toxic machismo. Though some of their discussions begin through a Hollywood lens, Polanco says Latinx audiences will be able to relate on many levels. In the first episode, Polanco talks with fellow Orange actor Selenis Leyva and Gentefied’s Julissa Calderón about their experiences as Afro-Latinas in Hollywood, confronting biases in their own communities and the many ways to live as Latinx.
“When I was leading the conversations and getting to know these other fellow Latinx, their perceptions and opinions was so amazing to me — to see the color and the richness of our story,” Polanco said. “There’s such a huge necessity for us to be behind the scenes and to write our own stuff. In the United States, there’s only been one [representation] of Latinx and it’s been the Mexican community. It’s important to discuss this because even though times are changing now, and there’s a push for diversity, there’s still a lot of work to do.”
Because speaking up doesn’t always bode well for marginalized communities, Polanco says she worried at first about how far to push the conversations as they recorded the podcast. “At what point do we start taking control of our story and actually speaking up because sometimes speaking up leaves you blacklisted or not finding work?” she said. “It’s risky to work in fear, to speak in fear. For me, hosting is about being a good listener and learning. I’m not out here claiming what’s right. For our community and for Hollywood, I’m just claiming what needs to be seen because this is the face of the United States right now.”
The series premieres on Friday; the podcast drops on February 25.