Forget about Happy Meals — let’s talk about happy filmmakers.
“Encanto” star Stephanie Beatriz has teamed up with McDonald’s for Spotlight Dorado, a short film contest for Latino talent.
“McDonald’s has a long history of fostering community. Not only do they essentially feed the community, but they also are trying to sort of put a spotlight on and empower and amplify Latino voices,” Beatriz tells me. “Spotlight Dorado is going to be a multi-year platform that does that. For this year, they’re specifically focusing on film, which is really, really thrilling.”
The competition is open to U.S.-based Latino writers, directors and producers, with a submission deadline of June 3. Three finalists will be awarded a production budget of $75,000 and receive mentorship from industry leaders, including Beatriz and “Raya and the Last Dragon” director Carlos López Estrada.
“It’s really hands on,” Beatriz explained. “It doesn’t feel like, in some instances like it can be a corporation going, ‘Let’s put this money here’ and kind of leave it, but this is doing something that Gloria Calderón Kellett has talked a lot about. You can’t just give the job to someone, you have to give the job and then show them and teach them how to keep moving forward in their industry with that momentum. Spotlight Dorado is doing that.”
Beatriz recalls that when she was starting out, Latino mentors were “few and far between.”
“I started my career in theater,” she said. “One of the actresses that I worked with is named Vilma Silva. She’s a brilliant actress, but not particularly well known outside of Shakespeare or classical theater. But she was one of the first people who told me, ‘Of course, this industry is for you. Why wouldn’t it be?’ And it was one of the first times that I really heard someone say that to me… because up until that point, I hadn’t seen a lot of us in television or on film. The representation is so low.”
Next for Beatriz? “I’m really interested in learning how to be an action star,” she said. “I think it’s such an incredible mix of things that you can do.”
She’s looking to “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” star Simu Liu for inspiration. Not only does Beatriz think his work on “Kim’s Convenience” proves that Liu is “incredibly hilarious,” but she added, “What he’s able to do on film as an action star, it has really raised the bar.”
It’s “exciting” to see superhero creatives embracing diversity, Beatriz said: “There’s a lot of really cool stuff that’s getting made, and not only in the more well-known worlds like Marvel and DC. There’s also these smaller comic worlds that are being built particularly by artists and creators of color, and they’re creating their own superheroes from the ground up. That’s really cool too, because people are ready to hear those stories.”
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