by Revry Co-Founder and Chief Business Officer, Christopher J. Rodriguez, Esq.
This Hispanic Heritage month, I’m taking the opportunity to consider the role that my heritage has played in my life. Specifically, what aspects of my unique experience as a Mexican/Colombian American helped shape my career and my overall identity. Growing up as a “white presenting Latino,” there were times when I didn’t feel like a real Latino. I didn’t speak Spanish. I’m light-skinned. I didn’t have the same interests as some of the other Hispanic kids in my classes. I’m gay. However, as I got older, I started to realize that my heritage and culture inextricably formed who I was and who I continue to be to this day.
I remember family parties on my mother’s side scored by the familiar music curated by Art Leboe— that tastemaker for the most beloved “cholo” jams. I remember the food. Not just the typical Mexican cuisine but also those specialties favored by my family: potato tacos, my grandmother’s famous “air” enchiladas I also remember the stories! Funny stories. Tragic stories. Tall tales. Urban legends. Many took place in the neighborhood that my mother and her 5 siblings lived for the greater part of their childhood: Echo Park, Los Angeles. I found myself settling into this very same neighborhood. By then of course, much had changed since my mother explored the streets. Many of the corner carnicerias had been replaced with organic wine and vegan pizza shops; old Victorian houses, once occupied by multiple low-income families, had been replaced with upscale (and expensive) Airbnbs; roving gangs of street toughs had been replaced with hipster moms pushing thousand-dollar strollers. Luckily for me, the “Elote Lady” is still there. Looking back, it’s a beautiful type of irony that in some ways my mother’s past has become my own present.
This was, however, just one side of my Hispanic heritage. While my mother was second-generation Mexican–her grandmother having migrated from Chihuahua to Texas and later to Los Angeles–my father was born and spent much of his formative years in Colombia. His experience was dramatically different from that of my mother. His family was well educated and well off in South America. When his family finally emigrated to the States, they had the advantage of money, but not necessarily, connections. It wasn’t until I was much older that I discovered the immense value in having deep roots in the country in which you are trying to build a life. The likelihood of success in the US is not just dictated by access to money but also access to privilege. And while my immediate family was solidly middle class in my childhood, this provided no meaningful advantages in my education or career. I went to public schools and neither myself nor my brothers could afford to transition directly to a good university following graduation. We also found ourselves in the frustrating position of having a household income too high for public assistance but too low to afford to go to college on our own dime. Like many in my position, I spent 2 years at community college–where, for the record, I received an excellent education–before transferring to UCLA to complete my degree in Political Science. Upon graduation, I knew I wanted to go to law school but also knew that I had no money to do so. Fortunately, I obtained a half-ride scholarship to a great law school which helped alleviate the debt.
Law was a novel industry for my family. Where we were lucky to have careers, they tended to be in the fields of engineering, healthcare, and law enforcement. Following my admission to the California Bar, I spent the next several years trying to make my own opportunities. I immediately gravitated toward entertainment law but quickly discovered that this field was almost as competitive as the entertainment industry proper. Thankfully, I had unknowingly inherited the indomitable spirit that characterized my family and which was embodied by my maternal grandmother. I found clients who were willing to be represented by a fledgling attorney in exchange for a gratis fee and slowly, but surely, I built my solo entertainment law practice. My later experience in the industry at subsequent jobs was less encouraging. The negativity and nepotism permeating this field, which usually favored non-POC people, was palpable and contributed to the toxicity in many of these work environments. This, in turn, led to my disillusionment with a field that I had spent years fighting to get into.
The extent to which prejudices against my race, ethnicity, and sexuality played in my struggles is not clear but, nonetheless, I’m thankful for everything I endured as it pushed me even further in forging my own future. This drive toward career independence culminated in 2015 with the founding of my own business along with three other amazing, like-minded people. Revry was born of a desire to create a space by and for the marginalized and the ignored. Rather than cynically taking advantage of a growing minority demographic (i.e. LGBTQ+, POC, multicultural), our network was created by these communities, and–I’m proud to say–it shows. In addition, our network is embedded with the unwavering persistence and resilience of my heritage and that of my co-founders. I never let my lack of access or resources hold me back and neither do we. Luck favors the bold, and being bold is one of our company’s greatest assets as well as my own. We take risks in everything from technology to content and we’re not afraid to be unapologetically…us. I like to believe that the struggles of my ancestors in this country and their refusal to give up has played a small yet meaningful role in our success. I know it has in mine.
Christopher J Rodriguez, Esq is the 37-year-old LatinX co-founder and Chief Business Officer of Revry, the global Queer streaming network. An entertainment attorney, cancer-survivor, and out and proud gay man, Christopher has used his diverse range of skills as an artist, lawyer, and writer to help bring Revry’s message of inclusivity and entertainment to 250+ million households and devices worldwide.
The Q Agenda
Queer Virtual TV Network, Revry, will kick off this Hispanic Heritage Month (Sep 15 – Oct 15) with a lineup of fresh and fabulous LatinX content, including the Revry premiere of Latino Alternative TV’s (LATV) fan favorite THE Q AGENDA–a talk show hosted by a passionate community of Latinx LGBTQ+ personalities and influencers featuring special guests from celebrities to activists for candid and genuine conversations about issues that affect the LGBTQ+ community. THE Q AGENDA is hosted by executive producer, actor and tv personality Enrique Sapene; comedian Lianna Carrera; beauty influencer, Victor Ramos; and actress and trans activist, Juliana Joel.