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Members of the Atrévete team. Photo Courtesy of PhillyCAM.
Members of the Atrévete team. Photo Courtesy of PhillyCAM.

Bilingual news and culture show, Atrévete celebrates five years on the air

The monthly TV magazine show produced by PhillyCAM has strived to expand coverage of the Latinx communities of Philadelphia. 

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PhillyCAM’s bilingual news and culture TV magazine show recently celebrated its fifth anniversary on the air. 

Launched in 2016, Atrévete (which translates to “I Dare You” in English) is a monthly, half-hour show that investigates and showcases the variety of experiences, stories and ideas within the Latinx community in Philadelphia.

The show was born out of an initiative started by PhillyCAM Executive Director Gretjen Clausing and Education Director Laura Deutch with the goal of engaging the local Latinx community. What started out as a pilot program with eight participants soon grew as an opportunity to train community members to become producers and develop content for the show. 

The name Atrévete is significant due to the fact that most of the show’s producers are immigrants.

“Most of us have faced obstacles in our lives, so [the name] was just like a call of action: Dare to do it,” said Leticia Roa Nixon, news reporter and Atrévete host. “It doesn’t matter your immigration status, your lifestyle, it’s just to challenge us as producers and also communicate that message to our audience.” 

“Everything is possible, just dare to do it,” she added. 

To date, the Atrévete team has produced a total of 61 episodes that range from stories of refugees seeking sanctuary, organizers working to defend immigrant rights, artists celebrating the Day of the Dead, climate refugees from Puerto Rico starting a new life in Philadelphia following Hurricane Maria, and also features live music from local Latinx artists.

The show serves to go beyond the typical stories that are produced within mainstream media. Over the past five years, PhillyCAM has served as a community media center that has trained more than 50 Spanish-speaking Philadelphians.

More recently, a new wave of fellows joined the Atrévete team — namely, Rosalba Esquivel Cote and Mary Luz Marques.

With a background in biochemistry, Esquivel Cote has spent much of her career writing scientific print articles. Upon joining the Atrévete team, her focus has been on producing material for broadcast television, specifically looking at the relationship between migrant women and the environment. 

“I’m very, very grateful to be able to find this new way of communicating and also a new interest,” said Esquivel Cote.

One particular piece she produced is about a group of women in Norristown, who have come together to share their thoughts, experiences and feelings in activism against environmental racism.

This story was important for her to tell because she saw value in the dual community component and the activism component, as well as the level of passion involved in the women’s work. 

During her fellowship, one story Marques produced was through an interview with Ivette Compean Rodriguez, executive director of the Mexican Cultural Center in Philadelphia. 

The story touched on the temporary art galleries set up at the Mexican Consulate, which served to promote Mexican culture and support the artists and creatives within the community.

Marques’ background is in communication sciences, and she also worked as a journalist in her native Peru.

"My passion is telling stories," she said. 

Marques credits her experience with Atrévete for helping improve her skills in producing content and expanding her use of technology.

“I grew up a lot, reporting on the community because it [has helped me] learn the stories that you don’t see in the mainstream,” she said. “Hearing the stories of our own community really makes us grow together as a community.” 

During its first five years, Atrévete has covered a wide range of topics pertaining to the Latinx community. However, the team has several other topics it hopes to address in the coming months and years ahead. 

As it pertains to the residual effect of the pandemic, Marques brought up the topic of mental health. 

“We are trying to return from a very isolated period of time and I do believe that we need techniques and tools of how to self-help in order to get out of isolation and slowly get back into the community and feel part of the community,” she said. 

Nixon detailed how she would like to see more stories produced regarding the younger generation, and also looking into the city’s high homicide rate. 

“The high homicide rate we have in this city is quite scary, so we need to [address it] as a society,” said Nixon. “I don’t think it should be just the job of the district attorney or the police, it’s on all of us as a community.”

Bettina Escauriza, coordinating news producer at Atrévete, said she would like to see the show expand the development of its international coverage.

Given that the team hails from different countries — Escauriza is from Paraguay, while Nixon and Esquivel Cote are from Mexico — she feels that more international coverage could help the show reach a wider audience.

“I think that’s an important part of who we are and how we think about the world,” said Escauriza. 

It also shows the diversity that exists within the Latinx community itself. 

Atrévete has accomplished a lot in its first five years on air, and the hope is that its impact on the Latinx community can continue to grow in the years to come.

To check out some episodes, click here

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