Starz’s ‘Vida’ explores queer Latinx experience

BEVERLY HILLS — The Starz series “Vida” gives a refreshing perspective of an East Los Angeles neighborhood through a Latino-led cast and with writers who celebrate the queer Latinx experience.

“Vida” will premiere Sunday on Starz.

When estranged sisters Lynn and Emma (Melissa Barrera and Mishel Prada), return to Boyle Heights to bury their mother, who unexpectedly dies, they are confronted with an unknown truth — Their mother was married to a woman, Eddy (Ser Anzoategui, who in real life uses they/their pronouns, but her character uses she/her).

“We exist, and that’s really important,” says “Vida” creator and showrunner, Tanya Saracho, who identifies as queer.

At its core, “Vida” is about family and mending broken bonds.

Saracho’s all-Latino writers’ room also delves into sexism, gentrification, racism, religion, being too Latino, not being Latino enough, and immigration.

The stories are authentic and mirror events in Boyle Heights, which is trying to hold on to its Latino identity as gentrification impacts the community with so-called progress and changes the city’s demography, which includes a growing queer population.

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Saracho sat down with Q Voice News at the Four Seasons Los Angeles in Beverly Hills during a day of press interviews to talk about the show, celebrating the queer Latinx experience, and the characters who drive the show.

However, Saracho says, the characters’ identities, while a large part of the series, are not the driving force of their stories.

“We are not our identities. We’re just steeped in them,” Saracho says.

In the Starz series “Vida,” estranged sisters Lynn, middle, and Emma, left, (Melissa Barrera and Mishel Prada), return to their Boyle Heights neighborhood to bury their mother, who has unexpectedly died, and are confronted with an unknown truth — Their mother was married to a woman, Eddy, right. (Ser Anzoategui, Photo: Starz.

Meet the characters:

Lyn (Melissa Barrera)

Lyn is a care-free party girl, who has figured out how to live a pretty worry-free life in the Bay Area with her boyfriend. When she returns to Boyle Heights for the funeral of her mother, Vidalia, Lyn is forced to face her past and deal with everything she thought she knew about herself.

Emma (Mishel Prada)

Emma, estranged from both her sister, Lyn,  and her mother, reluctantly returns for her mother’s funeral to deal with the family business. She quickly realizes things at home have changed drastically, and Lyn might be the only person who can help her make sense of everything.

Eddy (Ser Anzoategui)

Eddy is a sensitive soul, who is trustworthy, generous, and passionate but also intimidating looking upon first glance. In many ways, Eddy is the heart of the community. When her wife, Vidalia, dies, the community aches, too.

Marisol “Mari” (Chelsea Rendon)

Marisol is the expression of east side youth culture: woke, politicized, and deep in the resistance against gentrification. She will do anything to fight injustice, but when Marisol realizes she’s the victim of injustice, her drive and courage will be tested.

Johnny (Carlos Miranda)

Johnny is a stand-up guy who runs his ailing dad’s auto shop and is engaged to his pregnant girlfriend. He has a clear idea of his future — Be a good husband and father. But, when his first love, Lyn, returns to town, things get messy.

Cruz (Maria Elena Laas)

Cruz is an enigmatic lesbian, who has a checkered history with Emma. With Emma returning to Boyle Heights, issues that were left unresolved between them come to the surface.

About the author

Beatriz E. Valenzuela

Beatriz E. Valenzuela is an award-winning journalist who’s covered breaking news in Southern California since 2006 and has been on the front lines of national and international news events. She also covers all things nerd, including comic book culture and video games. She’s an amateur obstacle course racer, constant fact-checker, mother of three, and lover of all things geek.

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