Tanya Saracho Wants to Empower Latine Voices and Stories Through Ojalá Ignition Lab

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Photo courtesy of Chicago Tribune.

Talking about Latines in television and theater is impossible without mentioning the name Tanya Saracho. A Mexican-American actress, playwright, and screenwriter, Saracho is especially known for being one of the vanguardists who transformed what Jill Soloway called “the female gaze” into the “Latina gaze” — a way of putting the Latina perspective center stage. In this vein, Saracho became known to the wider public after developing and serving as showrunner for the Starz series Vida, airing for three seasons from 2018-2020.

As a screenwriter, Saracho has written for Devious Madis, Girls, Looking, and How to Get Away with Murder.

Now, after signing a three-year development deal with Starz, the Vida creator launched Ojalá Ignition Lab, a 26-week incubation program that will serve as a platform for Latine writers, with UCP, a division of Universal Studio Group.

According to Deadline, the program will be mentored by experienced showrunners and EPs, including Saracho herself.

“This is a legit writing lab, and I’m so thrilled. I don’t know if there’s something like this out there — it’s a nurturing writers’ group,” Saracho told Deadline.

“During Vida, those three seasons, having an all-Latine writers room, I realized that from the conversations in there that they had never been in a situation like that where they didn’t have to be an ambassador or had to defend their culture, their ethnicity, their race,” Saracho said of the origin of the Ojalá Ignition Lab. “In other writers’ rooms, they might have had to do that, and there was something so beautiful about that because we could just create the story. We didn’t have to also wear the shield of our culture and have to figure out how to navigate that in maybe a writers room that’s more dominant culture.”

“So, that gave me the idea for this, to be a writers’ group that where there’s that cultural safety, cultural shorthand, and I don’t just mean Spanish because not every Latine speaks Spanish,” the EP added. “It’s like when you see yourself represented after not being, you know, after never seeing yourself represented. It’s just an alchemy-like of safety that you can build, and we haven’t historically as Latines been building that way because we’re not enough of us in this industry to be surrounded by the same.”