When Bel Hernandez Castillo and Naibe Reynoso started their Latina-driven talk show it was meant as a targeted alternative to The View, with hot topic discussion about Hollywood and interviews with actors and industry figures that pertained to the Latin market. Specifically focusing on Latin women, it sought to show the major impact this group could have in terms of recognition and success. Their show was seen on CBS2 & KCAL9 under the name of HOLA! LA, then evolved into TheTRENDTalk, highlighting Latin people in every aspect of society. It currently airs on KAZA on the METV Network in L.A. As the show evolved so did their vision, scope and hope to promote their culture in new ways. Soon they transcended the entertainment world and began exploring Latina entreprenuership in every arena imaginable- from fashion and decor to books to music to health and wellness. They created LATINAfest happening this Sunday to celebrate, showcase and unite the growing community.
Last year’s inaugural event was a smashing success, with over 2000 people in attendance and this year they expect an even bigger turnout. Latinas (and those who identify this way or as Latinx) will be showcasing their wares, connecting and networking, and celebrating themselves and each other at the event. According to the organizers, Los Angeles sits at the top of the $1.7 trillion annual Latin consumer market and they hope to galvanize this multi-generational, bilingual and bi-cultural group so that it can prosper, something that is more within in reach than ever thanks to social media and new ways of sharing of information.
“Other festivals exist but they are very niche,” says Reynoso. “We wanted to create a festival that represented every generation and celebrates us and put us on the mindset of self-care, and not just surviving but thriving. I feel like a lot of Latinas take on the care-giver role and just making sure everything is OK, but we don’t pamper or celebrate ourselves. That’s why we refer to feeding our minds, loving our bodies and nurturing our souls- so that we don’t just go to have fun, but to have a moment of reflection about ourselves.”
Offering an array or activities and presentations, the gathering will include over 100 Latina vendors selling clothing, jewelry, housewares, art an more, offering handwriting analysis and financial information, plus beauty treatments and massages, and food and sweets. Many are brand new to the business world and the organizers have worked with them to promote themselves for the event and beyond.
The event will also feature inspirational speakers including yours truly (speaking about believing in yourself in the face of adversity, naysayers and self-doubt) and Chicana playwright/producer Josefina Lopez (Real Women Have Curves). A live taping of the Hernandez-Castillo and Reynoso’s TRENDTalk show with celebrity guests including Angeles Elena Van Ryzin (STEM), and actress Shakira Barrera (“Yo-Yo” from Netflix’s GLOW) will also happen onstage.
Other highlights: playwright/actress Odalys Nanin will pay tribute to Frida Kahlo with a scene from her hit play, Frida: Stroke of Passion, East L.A. artista Sand One will live paint her beloved big lashy-eyed doll art (see featured photo) on a 15 foot U-haul, Goya Foods will do cooking demos with celebrity Chef Cindy Rueda, and LA Times En Español/Hoy hosts an “Affirmation Tree” on which attendees can declare their visions for success and record their goals for the upcoming year. Readings by local authors will promote literacy, and there will be an empowerment “fashion parade” in which women of all ages, shapes and sizes will strut on stage, modeling wares from LATINAFest vendors.
“We see this festival moving to all the big Latina markets,” says Hernandez-Castillo, who saw the shift toward empowerment start early-on before it became a bonafide trend… and now she is excited to help it grow. “There are stats that show how active we are, and with the internet more of us have found out our worth. We are empowered with information, and we are no longer afraid to speak out about who we are.”
“I envision LatinaFest as the Coachella of Latina festivals,” adds Reynoso. “It’s the one day where we get to celebrate our culture, feel empowered, and feel connected. ”
2019 LATINAFest: Mind, Body & Soul, Sun., Aug. 25. At LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes
501 North Main St. For tickets HERE.