Today we’d like to introduce you to Magdiela Hermida Duhamel.
Magdiela, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I was born in Campeche, Mexico but moved at a young age to Highland Park, California after my father got a job as a youth pastor. My parents have always been supportive of my interest in working in the entertainment industry. It would’ve been hard to stop me since I’ve been producing content since I was ten years old! I started out helping my dad organize church plays, musicals, and youth events. At the time, I wanted to be an “organizer” when I grew up, but I soon learned that what I wanted to be was called a producer!
I feel like I’ve been preparing my whole life to create, empower and unite a group of people with entertainment. Throughout my school years, I was very involved in theatre. I loved it, but quickly realized that I enjoyed being behind the curtain more, so I switched my focus into organizing school events. I have always been a person who is passionate about involvement, and in high school, I was a soccer player, and member of the Associated Student Body, senior class historian, and president of the Spanish Club! It’s no surprise that I was voted my senior class’ Most School-Spirited—go Panthers!
I attended Pasadena City College where I studied Television Production. This is also where I met my wonderful husband, Davin during my first semester. Davin and I produced many college productions together and continue to work together. We will be celebrating our 10-year anniversary soon! After college, my legal status in the US was in limbo. I had to apply as an international student to keep my enrollment, but I couldn’t afford to continue my college education without financial aid.
I made the difficult decision to leave school and start an event planning company with my husband, so we could support ourselves. The event planning company was a big success, as our remaining Yelp reviews prove! But I was eager to return to the entertainment industry, and once I obtained a work permit, I started my first real industry job in post-production. I worked in live action for a few years before I got my first big break in animation in 2016, when I was hired as a post-production coordinator at DreamWorks Animation.
My first show there was Trollhunters, produced by Guillermo del Toro! I was very excited that my first job in animation was produced by a fellow Mexican, and while we never worked together one-on-one, it was so cool to see him in meetings and listen and learn from his creative notes. But even with a Latinx creator, I was disappointed at the lack of diversity in the room and throughout the entertainment industry. That’s how I came up with the concept of Latinx in Animation.
I wanted to meet more people like me that were as passionate about creating cartoons as I was! I took it upon myself to start the process of creating a community within my animation studio during lunch breaks. The word got out, and soon after, with the help of my friend and co-founder, Bryan Dimas, we grew and started expanding to other studios. I’m thrilled to say that our first official meeting of LXiA had over 60 guests. We knew right away that the need for a group like ours was huge, so Bryan and I got to work, and now here we are!
During our short time as an organization since our founding in October of 2018, we have expanded to over 300 active members across DreamWorks Animation, Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, Disney, Sony Pictures Animation and more. We held successful networking mixers, and Q&A events that have included Francisco Ruiz Velasco (Co-Art Director & Director, 3Below), Jorge R. Gutierrez (EP/Creator, Maya and the Three), Pilar Flynn (Producer, Elena of Avalor) and we have many more creators already committed for 2019!
Has it been a smooth road?
Oh yes! To start with, I couldn’t legally work in the US. I was one of what we now know as DREAMERS. I had no legal status in the US, but I had grown up here in California. I went to elementary, middle and high school here and this is where all my loved ones are. I actually didn’t even know my Mexican family until recently, so going back to Mexico, where I hadn’t been since I was a small child, was unthinkable to me.
Because I had to quit school and start working to remain in the US, I had to watch my friends continue their college educations and work on their senior films while I was setting taco bars and photo booths as part of our event planning company. With each year that went by, I felt like I was just getting older and my dream was fading.
Even after I married my husband, who was born in the US, I still had to go through the interview and legal process to obtain my work permit and green card. This was a very long and expensive process, and I went through a big depression. I felt hopeless and couldn’t afford medical help without having health insurance. I think of this as my “dark time,” but I was lucky in that I’ve always had big support around me. My husband and parents have always been my biggest fans!
Once I obtained my work visa, the first thing I did was get mental help. That was my biggest hurdle. I was very depressed and anxious, and it was really hard for me to get back to what felt like my “old self,” or the way I remembered being before I was depressed. I gained a lot of weight, distanced myself from my friends, and isolated myself for a while. It was hard to put on a “happy” expression and attitude when I felt hopeless and miserable on the inside.
The hardest part of this was that people aren’t that open to talking about or understanding mental health. Sometimes the biggest judgments or misconceptions came from my loved ones. They would say things like “cheer up” or “don’t let it get to you.” It was so hard to explain that even though I knew that logically that was good advice, I couldn’t make my brain behave differently! It just wasn’t that simple.
Once I got help, I felt like I found myself again, and I gained the confidence I needed to achieve everything I’d always dreamed of achieving. I was reminded of what I truly loved and couldn’t wait to get back to work! I even became a US citizen in January of 2018! It was a great feeling.
Some days are easier than others, but all days are still hard. Living with mental illness is exhausting. Medication helps and so does surrounding yourself with people who don’t judge or question your illness, but even then, there can be days where everything seems hopeless. I just remind myself to be patient and kind to myself and others and keep moving forward.
This is why creating LXiA is very special to me because it proves what I am capable of even with these obstacles. Through this journey I’ve learned that many of my fellow Latinx and minority peers have gone or are going through very similar situations and this community is helping end the stigma of mental health and immigration.
Cartoons are very powerful because they influence the next generation of children. Our mission is to simply empower, champion and give a voice to talented creators who feel their voice isn’t being heard.
So, as you know, we’re impressed with Latinx In Animation – tell our readers more, for example, what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
LatinX in Animation represents a diverse group within the Animation, VFX, and Gaming industries dedicated to uniting a talented pool of innovators with a heart to create exceptional stories across multiple platforms.
We do so by organizing activities, and events focused on networking, camaraderie, community service, education, communication, and professional development. LatinX in Animation provides the resources necessary to promote and further develop creatives and decision-makers in the Animation, VFX, and Gaming industries.
Through these efforts, our goal is to empower and promote the growth of Latinx diversity and minorities in all facets of the Animation, VFX, and Gaming industries by celebrating authentic stories that are About Us, Told By Us and Made By us.
Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and the least?
Simple. I love the weather, and I dislike traffic.
LA is my home, and I can’t imagine living anywhere else, for now. Even in traffic, I am thankful that I live among so much diversity in people, culture, and food.
- Website: https://latinxinanimation.com
- Phone: (323)20432-0074
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/latinxinanimation/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/latinxinanimation/
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/latinxinanim
- Other: https://www.gofundme.com/latinx-in-animation