After dealing with racism in Hollywood, Nydia Simone, an Afro-Latina of Panamanian descent decided to build her cultural authority in Afro-Latinx voices and own her table.
Nydia is an NYC born Panamanian- American and the founder of Blactina Media, a company that amplifies Afro-Latinx – Caribbean narratives via media and visual art. By using social media to celebrate these histories and cultures Blactina has gained a following of over 20k followers with a strong global reach. Additionally Nydia has moderated and hosted informative panels and webinars for Telemundo, Bese, NAHJ, We All Grow Latina and more. Blactina Media’s work has been featured in the NY Times, Forbes, Vice, Oprah and more.
BoldLatina: What inspired you to start Blactina Media? How does your platform amplify AfroLatinx and Caribbean voices?
Nydia: I kept on getting fired for being Black when I lived in Hollywood, CA and since I couldn’t escape racism, I decided to face it head on. I started writing screenplays about Blackness from a Black persons POV and I wanted to focus on Black joy and celebrate Afrolatinx culture since I personally felt like it was missing. I wrote the webseries in 2017 but I struggled to get financing (story of my life. lol) so I decided to make the Instagram a lifestyle/educational platform until I found the money. Still looking for said money. But now I’ve settled into amplifying Afrolatinx/Caribbean voices digitally by creating content for my platform and for other platforms like Bese, Telemundo y mas. I also speak for many organizations to educate and bring an Afrolatinx voice or point of view to spaces that need it.
I also started an Afrolatinx/Caribbean database that has over 300 writers, directors executives that are currently working in TV and film in it. I hope to grow the data base and use it to help people get industry jobs and find Afrolatinx/Caribbean crew and talent both in the USA and in Latin America.
BoldLatina: As a media startup founder, what were some struggles that you faced as an Afro-Latina in the media space? How did you overcome these challenges?
Nydia: Some of the struggles I experience is racism from non-black latino media since antiblackness in the latino media world is still very rampant. This plays out via a number of ways. Companies will ask for free promotion on my platform and wont book me to speak at their conferences but they will ask me to boost or share their conferences, webinars etc because they know I have a large trusted following and they believe they can seem inclusive if they can put the Blactina logo on their website as a media ambassador. Still working to overcome this challenge since its generational but I hope to make big changes during my lifetime so younger Afrolatinas don’t have to fight the same fight. Its also difficult because African American media outlets still struggle to see Afrolatinx as Black…this is due to many non-black latinos masquerading as Afrolatinx which confuses people. This puts the Afrolatinx community in a weird position and it’s the reason you don’t see many in media.
BoldLatina: What is one or two projects that you have worked on that you are most proud of & Why?
Nydia: Im really proud of Blactina Galeria. It’s an ongoing project where I sell original art by Afrolatinx/Caribbean artists to people in the US and UK. Right now, I’ve started with Haitian artists in the DR but I hope to work with artists from Mexico and Cuba soon. I’m proud of this project because I see the transformation I’m making in local communities and I really love being in the Black art world and being an history maker. Im also developing the artists I work with and I manage their careers and seeing them change their views about who their own self worth is so fulfilling. I know by working with them and selling their work, I’m having a positive ripple effect in their families. I’m also proud of my film “The Lost Book of Rap” where I acted and served as a producer. I was able to take this film to the Cannes Film Festival and it was my first lead role in a film.
BoldLatina: Can you offer any tips to AfroLatina / Latina entrepreneurs working towards their career goals in the media or public speaking space?
Nydia: Find a niche that you are passionate about and do a lot of research to become an expert. Learn how to become a great orator and shape your story. Focus on gaining the skills you need to take your career to the next level. Learn to work a room. Master social media, but pick a platform and dominate it. Ideally a video based platform.
BoldLatina: What are you personally looking forward to with the platform you are building?
Nydia: I’m looking forward to having my own Blactina Studio where it’s a creative hub for all of the projects I’m working on from my films and tv shows to showcasing all the art I sell under Blactina Galeria.
BoldLatina: What do you believe are current AfroLatinx community challenges right now?
Nydia: The same challenges we’ve been facing for generations. Erasure. Most people aren’t aware of the contributions Afrolatinx people have given society and because of that erasure, our work is undervalued. This is why companies feel comfortable asking us for free work and it cripples our careers. But across Latin America, I would say lack of jobs. The lack of work and access to a living wage in Latin America is astounding and Blactina Media will change that by working with artists under Blactina Galeria, but also hiring Afrolatinx talent and crew when producing content.
BoldLatina: If you could change one thing about the world today that would make it better for women, especially women of color/Latina/x/Black Women, what would it be?
Nydia: I would want every woman to have her financial needs met for herself and her family. Women are the breadwinners and they pass down the culture in society traditionally. Many of the problems women face is due to lack of stable housing and financial stability. That is something I also hope to change during my lifetime.
BoldLatina: What, in your opinion, makes someone a BoldLatina?
Nydia: Someone who is a truth teller and willing to go against the grain even when their own community questions their ways.
BoldLatina: Any advice for other BoldLatinas out there you would like to share? How can our audience contact / book you?
Nydia: Be consistent. Study your craft. You can book me via firstname.lastname@example.org and follow @blactina and @blactinagaleria on instagram to stay posted on the exciting things I’m working on!