COVER - Cis Saldana - this is her Humanity
You may have heard of Zoe Saldana, but have you met her younger sister Cis Saldana? Cis is an amazingly passionate woman who is fighting to make the world a better place. She works as a producer, focusing on highlighting women and Latinas, insuring that they are represented and seen in the media. Giving this platform is incredibly important, especially with what is going on in The United States right now, which brings us to our biggest issue — the border crisis. Cis works with an incredible organization that helps families, and gets the word out about the border crisis, called This Is About Humanity. To learn more about the inspiring Cis, and her thoughts on immigration, the border, and Trump, please read further in Jejune’s exclusive interview below.
Where are you based?
Los Angeles, CA
How did you get interested in producing?
My sisters and I always felt that movies and television shouldn't just be telling stories from one perspective. We saw a better future for this industry that focused on inclusion — parts for women that are more than wives and girlfriends, parts for Latinas that properly encompassed our experience, characters that portrayed a variety of people from different communities with a plethora of experiences. One thing everyone wants from their content is to feel represented, to feel heard, to feel understood. Our mission has always been to diversify the landscape, and every day we wake up and love what we do for that reason. It isn't just about producing, it's contributing to the larger picture.
How do you choose which movies you want to work on?
We trust our creative instincts. A great script jumps off the page, it instinctively forces you to turn the page and stays with you after you read it. The reality of transferring that vision to screen is always a challenge, but it's so rewarding when you get it right. We search for honest voices, new points of view, perspectives that don't feel redundant. It's also a priority that female characters feel honest and real; we're a female run company and it's something that is truly important to us when it comes to material.
Can you please tell us what Honor List is about, and why it was important to you?
Four girls sink a time capsule in a lake with a list of things they want to do before graduation, but they all go separate ways before graduating. When a tragedy strikes, they reunite to find the capsule and complete the bucket list. It was important to us because we love promoting sisterhood/womanhood, including the ugly parts of growing up.
You have worked with This Is About Humanity. Can you please tell us a bit about what they represent and do?
Intimate round table and educational discussion on the other side of the border to better inform yourself on the pertinent issues surrounding the humanitarian crisis brought about by the continued separation of families and detention of children. We listen to family members give testimony, and to local leaders discuss on-the-ground efforts being made to reunify or support families and unaccompanied minors and share images and messages via social media. Tijuana is on the border with San Diego. It is the busiest land port of entry in the world. Migrant families and unaccompanied minors seeking asylum stop in Tijuana before continuing to the U.S., and separated parents or children who have been deported may be returned to Tijuana pending the outcome of their cases. Illustrating the breadth of this policy is key to raising awareness and capturing hearts and minds.
Can you talk a little bit about your experiences with them?
We get to witness first-hand our biggest nightmare of what’s happening at the border. It’s traumatic seeing basic human rights be violated.
Can you please tell us your thoughts on Trump’s border wall?
What is going on at the border is a profound injustice and violation of basic human rights. Children should NEVER be separated from their parents and human beings do not belong in cages. This is not over, this is not a moment in history we are revisiting - this is present day reality. How can we turn a blind eye to the torture of people who are seeking Asylum? We have a responsibility to talk about it, to start the conversation, to call our representatives, to fight for those who can not fight for themselves. It isn't just about retweeting, it isn't sharing a Facebook status. We have to pick up our phones and flood the people in charge with our collective voices, we have to march, we have to stand together, we have to stand with those who are being oppressed by a corrupt system. Change will come, and I fully believe that — but it will not come on it's own, and we are catalysts to make it happen. We also need to encourage everyone around us to vote in 2020 to make sure we are electing people whose policies we respect, people who believe that human needs are not a privilege but a right. It’s our responsibility to keep the spotlight on this issue. One of the most needed actions at the moment is that we have to continue to show up and use our voices to keep this issue hot by sharing images and stories.
Do you feel there is enough being done for the children who have been separated from their families?
I think we all know that answer is no. We aren’t doing enough. Children continue to slip through the cracks, to cry for their mother's at night, to fend for themselves. When I look at my nieces and nephews and I think about the reality of them having to feel scared and alone in a strange place, I shutter at this tragedy. What child deserves this? No one deserves to suffer because of where they were born or because their family was simply seeking a better life.
Why do you feel that these immigrants, who are mostly seeking asylum, scare some people in our country?
This question is very loaded and complicated. I know media manipulation doesn’t help. But the simple answer is Racism. I know hundreds of hardworking, caring, good people and families that immigrated to this country in many different ways - we have to perpetuate the good, we have to change the narrative.
Do you feel that over the past two years it has gotten more challenging for Latin Americans? Immigrants?
I feel that the issues of the past two years aren't new, they weren't unearthed by this President - they've always been there. The past two years has simply magnified the problem, normalized a really ugly way of thinking. It certainly feels more challenging when people aren't afraid to say or do terrible things out in the open. I heard someone say once that "change is like a pendulum, it swings back and forth," I have faith we will swing forward again. I hope recent history has opened people's eyes.
How would you like to see the border issue resolved?
I would like to see families reunited, I would like to see these cages dismantled. That seems like a running start.
Do your sisters, Zoe and Mariel, ever join you on your humanitarian work?
For our first visit, we went together. As a family, it's a huge priority for us. Zoe, Mariel and I feel a huge responsibility to not just speak, but to act.
For those who would like to help, what would you best recommend?
Ask questions, because the moment you don’t, you become complacent. We have to stay uncomfortable and boisterous. Also, please vote in 2020, vote in your local elections, call and write your representatives. It's easy to feel powerless over larger situations, but collectively our voices count. Our hearts count. We count.
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