Today we’d like to introduce you to Daniel Luna.
Daniel, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
Hello, my name is Daniel Luna I am the writer and creator of the new LGBTQ+/Latinx driven web series, Functional. My story begins with my family and my never-ending search for representation. My siblings and I were born and raised in the beautiful state of Colorado. Our parents were two undocumented immigrants from Mexico City and Michoacan who met in the city of Center. After relocating to the Denver area, where at the time the Hispanic community was scarce, they worked tirelessly to make sure we grew up in a better situation than they arrived.
We learned the power of honest work. We would push ice cream carts during the summer, follow our parents to various sales, constriction, and cleaning jobs they would encounter, as well as translate during doctors’ appointments and parent-teacher conferences. Although this seemed to be an unconventional thing to do compared to our peers, it made us become resourceful individuals.
Although we came from a working-class, we were lucky that our parents supported our love for the dramatic flair and the arts. We would listen to all of the music our mom played while we had our weekly Saturday cleaning rituals, we would see every story Univision and Telemundo had to offer and we would experience every little bit of culture our mom would teach us about our family back home. It would come to no surprise that all of this would eventually imprint on each of us.
Life at home compared to school was always so distant though, trying to relate to any pop culture phenomenon or social norm always seemed to be out of our reach since it never aligned with what other kids were learning. It would be rare to find any similarities with kids our age or the ones on TV. I spent my childhood watching and reenacting dramatic novelas that for some reason spoke to me more than anything I would see on Boy Meets World.
As I grew up I often found myself sacrificing the heritage I inherited from my mom in order to learn the songs, shows and art everyone else was listening to in order to fit in. After wearing so many personalities and masks I was finally able to center myself back again into the individual who grew up in the household I did and shortly after my passion to act and need to create began again. I graduated with a Business Management Degree from college in 2015 and moved to Los Angeles to continue to hustle as I was trained my whole life.
I have had the opportunity to seek out the stories I want to see that represent the life my siblings and I shared back home but never shared to the rest of the world. The hustle never stops and through hard work, some heartbreak and growth I am lucky to be where I am right now.
My parents’ message was always clear: Be the example our community needed. These past few years have been only the beginning but I am happy that slowly but surely I will be finally able to share with the world my family’s story because I can attest that we have so much to give.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Can I lie and say yes? Just kidding. As someone who wants to pursue a career in the entertainment industry, I am sure that is enough to cover it. However, as someone who often fights to see a fair representation in media, you inherit a separate set of challenges.
I am a queer person of color. I’ve been called a SPIC and a FAGGOT multiple times in my life and annoyingly always in a customer-facing work environment. It is never fun or fair and annoyingly you are forced to deal with it. Although it is easier to be mad about the situation (trust me I have been there multiple times) I’ve learned to talk myself off the ledge and channel those feelings into something productive.
The general public will never see themselves in me and that is a fact. If they don’t look like me how will they? But if I can easily identify with Elle Woods I’m sure the world can also identify with a brown boy trying to live his best life in a modern world. People like to attack what they don’t know and it has always been real-life situations that force you to realize why representation in the media matters so much.
We’d love to hear more about your work.
I am so proud to finally share the web series Functional out into the world. This project has been in creation for the past two and a half years. The series follows two best friends Jazmyne and Guillermo as they try to figure out their life. As someone who is Latinx and queer I often found myself in between my family and the outside world as I tried to come to terms with my self-identity. This web series is my love letter to those relationships that held us when we felt rejected and helped us find the self-love we often overlook.
I got so lucky with the amazing talent that supported it and donated their own personal time. I am in awe of how it came out and so proud of how it is currently resonating with our audience. We are currently gearing up for our season finale later in February… with maybe talks of a season 2? Who knows!
You can catch new episodes every Thursday on YouTube (www.youtube.com/c/functionalseries)
Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
I am a pessimistic dreamer. I feel that has been the only way I have been able to guard myself in a world full of appearances but also keep my head in the clouds to do what I make me happy.
To anyone that wants to start the best piece of advice that I can give them is to come with realistic expectations and to be kind to yourself. Be realistic in a way that you can set small goals that build towards a larger one. And be kind to yourself if a way that you are not comparing yourself to someone next to you because it will drive you nuts! Everyone has their own pace, honor yours and the rest will follow.
- Website: www.youtube.com/c/functionalseries
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: www.instagram.com/luna.tico
- Twitter: www.twitter.com/danielun
Nit_Photography (Martin Lorenzo)
Gena Photography (Gena G)
Off Color Media (Doni Masongsong & Cheska Bacaltos)