Latino Life in Philly

Spotify highlights Philly podcast ‘Draws in Spanish,’ a series featuring Latino and Latina creators

Host Fabiola Lara interviews artists from all over the Latin American diaspora.

Some of the artists featured include Reyna Noriega, Arantza Peña Popo, and Itzel Islas

Some of the artists featured include Reyna Noriega, Arantza Peña Popo, and Itzel Islas

Fabiola Lara / Draws in Spanish
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Last month was a milestone for podcaster Fabiola Lara. Her podcast, “Draws in Spanish,” won a $2.5k grant, and an episode featuring Cuban and Bahamian artist Reyna Noriega was named one of Spotify’s best episodes of the week.

Lara, who listens to podcasts while she creates art, recently came to a realization about the shows she listened to: they were consistently interviewing white men, and not much of anybody else.

The 29-year-old Chilean American felt none of these stories represented her experience as a Latina artist.

“I felt like I wasn’t getting the voices I wanted to hear in my podcast,”  Lara said. “So I could wait until it happened — or make it myself.”

Lara first pitched the podcast in June 2021 for the Adobe Creative Residency program but was rejected. Since she already had the proposal ready, she sought out help from Lauren Popish of Wave Podcasting to help produce it.

The show, “Draws in Spanish,” debuted Oct. 5. It explores the lives of Latino artists living in the United States and how their identity has shaped their artwork. Lara has 15 episodes done, and the first season will run through the end of spring, with new shows released every other Tuesday.

It’s been a way for Lara to show that people from all different walks of life come into art. “If you come from a super wealthy family and you’ve been able to make art since you graduated high school, I want to know that,” she said, “because that wasn’t my experience.”

Lara initially reached out to artists she knew personally, and was worried that she’d run out of guests. Each week, she realizes just how wrong she was.

Just tapping existing contacts, she’s interviewed artists from across the country and the Latin American diaspora: Noriega, the illustrator from Miami, Argentinian cartoonist  Pepita Sandwich, and Philly’s own Manuela Guillén.

The episode featuring Reyna Noriega talked about the struggles of being Afro-Latina, the reality of being a teacher in the public school system, and the confusing nature of NFTs.

Noriega, a Miami-based illustrator and author, likes how “Draws in Spanish” focuses on representation and highlights people in different stages of their careers.

“By seeing what’s possible and breaking down those barriers and speaking on things that are typically taboo, it’s like we share a wealth of knowledge within the community that becomes more accessible and creates more opportunity for growth for everyone,” she told Billy Penn.

Inspired by the famous “Cries in Spanish” meme that features a screencap from a telenovela, “Draws in Spanish” reiterates the challenges of being a Latino creative stateside. Whether artists were born here or immigrated here, there’s more pressure on them to succeed compared to artists in Latin America.

“Hopefully it inspires other little kids coming from these immigrant families where being an artist is not encouraged to consider it,” Lara said.

She said she gets messages from listeners who appreciate the different perspectives, which reassures her the podcast is doing what it set out to do.

Said Lara: “I can’t believe the exact reason I made the show is the exact reason someone out there is loving it.”

Want some more? Explore other Latino Life in Philly stories.

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