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Tanya Saracho to receive Imagen Foundation award for increasing diversity

Tanya Saracho Imagen Foundation

Tanya Saracho is photographed on the set of “Vida” during filming of season two. Photo: Starz.

Tanya Saracho will receive the Norman Lear Writer’s Award Sunday from the Imagen Foundation.

The award honors those that have “exhibited efforts towards increasing diversity within all aspects of the entertainment industry,” according to a press statement.

Saracho, who identifies as queer, was the creator, showrunner, and executive producer of the critically acclaimed series “Vida” on Starz.

“I am humbled and deeply honored to be recognized by Imagen with this prestigious award, especially one named after such an inspiring and talented icon, activist, and creative force, Norman Lear,” Saracho said in the statement. “And I strive to continue in the example he has set and use my platform and voice to increase Latine representation across our industry.”

Tanya Saracho talks ‘Vida,” queer Latinx representation

The final season of “Vida” aired May 2020. During the series’ three seasons, Saracho increased that representation. Season one featured all Latine directors, and seasons two and three had all Latina directors, including Saracho, who made her television directorial debut.

Also, the series had an all-Latine writers’ room for seasons one and two, and in season three, the room was composed of all Latina writers.

“ ‘Vida’ broke ground on so many levels, bringing to the forefront stories that otherwise would remain untold,” Helen Hernandez, Imagen Foundation president and founder, said in the statement.

“Rather than rest on her laurels, Tanya continues to champion for stories and storytellers that reflect our communities’ voices, experiences, and cultures,” Hernandez said. “Her work, determination, and willingness to share her voice, reflect the essence of the Norman Lear Writer’s Award.”

Saracho launched the Ojalá Ignition Lab in June as part of her overall deal with Universal Content Productions. It’s a lab and incubator program that will mentor intersectional Latine voices.

The playwright and screenwriter co-founded the Untitled Latinx Project, whose mission is to increase Latine representation in television, broadcast, cable, and streaming platforms through content created by Latine writers.

She also co-founded the Writers Access Support Staff Training Program, to help increase representation and opportunities for underrepresented communities.

The storyteller will make her directorial debut with the film adaptation of her 2014 play off-Broadway play “Mala Hierba.”

“The play unravels the coiffured life of a Lone Star state trophy wife who begins to see the cracks in her life of wealth and privilege as her first and perhaps true love reappears. The possibility of a renewed life together for the two women forces the Liliana character to make a searing decision about what she wants and who she is,” Deadline reported.

The 36th Annual Imagen Awards will be presented on PBSSoCal and KCET Sunday at 5 p.m. PST/8 p.m. EST.

About the author

Phillip Zonkel

Award-winning journalist Phillip Zonkel spent 17 years at Long Beach's Press-Telegram, where he was the first reporter in the paper's history to have a beat covering the city's vibrant LGBTQ. He also created and ran the popular and innovative LGBTQ news blog, Out in the 562.

He won two awards and received a nomination for his reporting on the local LGBTQ community, including a two-part investigation that exposed anti-gay bullying of local high school students and the school districts' failure to implement state mandated protections for LGBTQ students.

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