Awkward creator Lauren Iungerich and Empire writer Eddie Gonzalez have cooked up something extra special for the Netflix audience. The two, along with writer Jeremy Haft, are bringing a Latinx coming-of-age story to the streaming platform, and the trailer for Netflix's On My Block will totally make you smile.
Set in South Central Los Angeles, On My Block zooms in on a foursome of Gen-Z high schoolers battling everything from pubertal identity crises to issues plaguing their predominantly black and Latinx, inner-city neighborhood. The show pushes newcomers Diego Tinoco (Cesar), Jason Genao (Ruby), Sierra Capri (Monse), and Brett Gray (Jamal) to the forefront, and together, the crew forms the supportive wolf-pack we all could've used while surviving the halls of high school.
The trailer — released on Jan. 30 — introduces Cesar, Ruby, Monse, and Jamal to the audience, giving a brief look into what the teenagers battle from day to day. "Sticking together to survive" is said to be the high schoolers' ultimate goal, and after tuning into the series' preview, it'll become loud and clear this will be the mantra throughout the show's existence. With South Central Los Angeles being widely recognized for its gang violence, it's inevitable that On My Block will touch on the important issue. However, with Iungerich at its helm, you can bet that the show will have just as many awkward, quirky, and hilarious moments, as it will heartbreaking ones.
In the midst of fight for diversity and more inclusive storytelling in Hollywood, the absence of Latinx talents being recognized for their small and big-screen contributions in award nominations recently shows that, while there has been progress, the industry still has a long way to go. According to recent data from the Motion Picture Association — via Variety — while Latinos make up 18 percent of the U.S. population, 23 percent of theater tickets in 2016 were purchased by the minority group.
Variety also points out that out of top films aired in the same year, only 3 percent of speaking roles went to members of the Latinx community. And when taking into consideration which of those 3 percent of roles are given to Latinx talent — maids, gang bangers, just to name a few of the stereotypes assigned by predominantly white writer's rooms — the fight to be seen as integral parts of the American experience becomes that much harder.
Jane the Virgin star Gina Rodriguez penned an essay for Variety that helped to paint the gut-wrenching reality of what it's like for Latinx individuals not to see themselves represented on screen. Within, the actor wrote:
"To be invisible in a world of loud voices is heartbreaking and dehumanizing. The under-representation of Latinos in Hollywood both on and off screen is not just a feeling; it’s a sad reality."
Rodriguez's fight for Latinx visibility doesn't just stop with her powerful essay or raising awareness on social platforms, however. The 2015 Golden Globe winner is making it her mission to see that more people who look like her are equally represented on screen — executively producing projects centered around Latinx experiences, including Have Mercy, which follows the life of an immigrant Latina doctor who creates a medical clinic in her home, and Illegal, based on writer Rafael Agustin's true story of learning he was an undocumented immigrant in high school.
"This is not just my journey," she continued in the essay, "this is the journey for every young Latino boy or girl who longs to see a version of his or herself on screen." All of which, makes the news about On My Block's light-hearted, yet real coming-of-age story airing even more gratifying.
The trailer for the soon-to-come Netflix show is heartwarming, and it's exactly what America needs to see right now. The show is set to hit the streaming platform on March 16.