Kiki Melendez: Revolutionizing Latino Television

Latin Hollywood Films and Latin Heat Media Institute hosted the first Multicultural Television Sizzle Reel Upfronts in New York on September 30, an industry event designed to spotlight independently-produced, cross-cultural programming for broadcast networks and advertisers. A second event is scheduled to take place in Los Angeles on Oct. 13th. See: for more info.

The Multicultural Television Sizzle Reel Upfronts presented a variety of cross-cultural, English-language content featuring Latino/Hispanic and African-American talent in categories such as drama, sitcom, reality shows, interactive talk and bilingual children’s programs. These first-of-their-kind events, designed to unite network executives, producers and writers, were imagined and are being produced by award-winning actress and executive producer of Latin Hollywood Films, Kiki Melendez.

Kiki Melendez

Kiki Melendez

“It’s exciting and very timely for us to tell our stories,” said Melendez, who recently directed the critically-acclaimed documentary, Journey of a Female Comic. “We want to show the world how we want to be portrayed on mainstream television and make a historical contribution to the future of multicultural talent in Hollywood.”

This comes as a sigh of relief to this Latino Rebel, who gave up on television long ago and has looked for a reason to check back in. This is, after enduring decades of hurtful Latino stereotypes such as prostitutes and drug addicts…

The nearly dozen promotional reels and pilots explore a variety of formats and flavors and feature Yancey Arias (Bosch), Emilio Rivera (Sons of Anarchy), Sofia Milos (CSI: Miami), and others like Noemi Gonzalez, Jorge Diaz and Gabriella Walsh (Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones), Zulay Henao, Chelsea Rendon, Joseph Julian Soria, Rene Rosado, Guy Ecker, Will Rothhaar, Jason Gedrick, Ilia Volok, and Shari Belafonte.

“I have made it my life’s goal to create universal stories that represent the evolution and diversity of people in this country,” said actor Yancey Arias. “I am grateful to Kiki for these events that showcase talented Latinos in front and behind the camera.”

The projects were directed by actor and comedian Paul Rodriguez, as well as Greg Wilson (The Girl Next Door), Erick Crespo (Confessions of a Womanizer), Craig Moss (Bad Ass), and Melendez (Hot Tamales Live!). Writers such as Jon Macks also contributed.

Latin Hollywood Films tapped television producers Julia Carias-Linares, Lino Garcia, Evette Vargas and Rudy Mella to bring the Multicultural Television Sizzle Reel Upfronts to life. The series is executive produced by Moss, Sarkis Semerjyan and Arsen Pananyan from Jear Entertainment LLC.

For information on the upcoming Los Angeles event on October 13th contact [email protected] or call 424 832 7088. Also check the website at:


Author Charlie Vázquez is a founding member of Latino Rebels and the director of the Bronx Writers Center. You can follow him @charlievazquez.