Bel Hernandez and Naibe Reynoso founded TheTRENDTalk to create content for Latinos in an English-language format. These two Latinas envisioned a talk show and events that did not exist, so they decided to create it for themselves. They have been paving the way for Latinos for years now with their eventful careers. We sat down with Bel and Naibe to discuss TheTRENDTalk.
What difficulties did you face when creating TheTRENDTalk?
The two major difficulties were finding funding and distribution. We had our initial money to shoot 6 episodes; however, after that we have had to raise funds, and for a new show that is not on a big broadcast station, that is hard. It is also hard to let people know our show is out there when you have no marketing dollars. Our marketing has been solely done through social media. We are happy that we have been able to make it work and keep our show on the air.
As we begin our 4th season, we are happy to have increased our distribution to Texas and the Virgin Islands, and we are currently speaking with San Diego and Fresno to air in those markets, as well.
As Latinas, do you think the process was even harder for you to create your own show?
It is difficult for everyone. However, as a community that is just making our mark in Hollywood, there are not a lot of established connections to gain access to TV distribution. Also, it does not help that because we are Latinas, they peg us as Spanish language content and direct us to the Spanish-language TV stations. We know our community, our market, and our audience. Seventy-seven percent of all U.S. Latinos speak English and are English-language TV viewers. Although we have the advantage of also speaking Spanish, we know there are so many other Latinos that identify fiercely with their culture, some who do not even speak Spanish, but that appreciate being represented on TV. Bilingualism is a big factor in our community, and we go there on the show, as well.
Bel, you have a history in journalism as the CEO of Latin Heat Media. How did working on Let’s Talk with Latin Heat Media help begin your journey with TheTRENDTalk?
I started my journalism career by co-founding the only entertainment trade publication to focus on Latino talent in 1992. Prior to that, there was a severe lack of coverage of Latinos in Hollywood working in English language films and TV. From that mission, Latin Heat Media has always been about promoting U.S. Latino talent, both in front of and behind the camera.
As a former actress, then a journalist and now a producer, I saw an opportunity to create English-language content that employs and highlights Latinos. So, in 2009, we produced the first and only talk show with four Latina hosts. We were a 15-minute online talk show. From there we aired on LATV, an independent TV station where our content fit right in as they did bilingual content. It was during this iteration of our talk show journey that Naibe joined the panel of hosts.
While airing on LATV, we met with the GM from CBS@/KCAL9 who took an interest in our show and brought the production to the local stations CBS@/KCAL9 — but they requested a name change. We debuted a 3-year run under the name HOLA L.A!
When our run was done, Naibe and I still had a lot to say, and we decided to restructure the show and created TheTRENDTalk with only two hosts, myself and Naibe. It is so empowering to have a vision and be able to work on making it come true, to have creative freedom. However, it is quite a challenge, as we are also responsible for raising the funds, covering all expenses, seeking syndication and getting creative with the marketing dollars we have. We rely solely on social media and our skills as entrepreneurs with our mad skills of producing, and our journalistic career experiences. Another factor that helps our ability to produce a great show is our access to great guests.
What guest have you had on TheTRENDTalk that has impacted you the most and why?
One of the most impactful guests was when we had Edward James Olmos on the show. We asked him the question about the rumor that he would be playing Gaff in Bladerunner 2049; he then turned to the camera and said, “I am announcing here, and to the world, that I am playing Gaff in Bladerunner 2049“. Press around the world picked up the quote and TheTRENDTalk made international news.
What do you hope to accomplish with your show? Is there an overall message you wish to put out there?
The overall message is that U.S. Latinos exist and that we are American and have a lot to offer our country. We are not invisible, and we deserve to also have a talk show that shows us for who we are, not the stereotype portrayed in TV & Film.
The other main purpose is to shine a spotlight on the amazing Latino men and women who are trending at the highest level in all sectors of society, who are making news and are doing amazing things.
What advice can you give to others who are looking to create their own show?
Know how to produce. Have access to interesting guests. Learn how to sell your show and distribute your show. You can start on the web as we did and grow from there. There are wonderful opportunities to do a show online.
Naibe, you just published your first bilingual children’s book. That’s so exciting! Can you tell us a little about that process?
I am very proud of my newly released children’s bilingual book, “Be Bold, Be Brave: 11 Latinas who made U.S. History.” The book is an extension of what I am already doing on TheTrendTalk, which is spotlight the Latino community. But the book caters to a younger audience, children ages 5-11. The book hopes to inspire the next generation of Latina leaders in science, medicine, politics, sports, journalism and art. By presenting the true biographical stories of outstanding women in rhyming verses, young readers will easily follow their journey to success. The women featured include Antonia Novello (first female Surgeon General in the U.S.), Ellen Ochoa (first Latina to go to space), Sonia Sotomayor (first Latina Supreme Court Justice,) Rita Moreno, and Selena. The process was exhilarating! As a mother, I was very proud to create something that can have a positive influence on our children. When I looked for books to read to my children, I noticed a lack of children’s publications highlighting Latina women who have greatly contributed to U.S. history and now more than ever, it was important to publish a piece of media that portrays my community, especially women, in a positive light. I had the pleasure of meeting some of the women in my book, and Rita Moreno and Dolores Huerta, two living legends, even signed my copy. I’m hoping to create more books like this one that highlight my community.