Kayden Phoenix is a multifaceted talent; a writer, director, producer, and creator of the A LA BRAVA Latina superhero universe. You can just look at her website to see the awards her work has been nominated for and won. She has worked to increase visibility and representation for Latina artists in the entertainment industry, and decided to do the same by creating a dynamic Latina superhero universe with A LA BRAVA.
A LA BRAVA is a universe filled with Latina’s of different upbringings, locations, and skills who fight against injustices and together they form the team A LA BRAVA.
Kayden Phoenix says a childhood that encouraged imagination, films that ranged from Disney animation to blockbuster action films, and cartoons with comic origins all helped to shape the foundation of her comic book universe.
“My Latina superheroes are a mix of those films. The superheroes are pretty and they will always save the day no matter what the feat. I didn’t read comics growing up so my base were superhero shows like Batman, Animated series and X-Men cartoons.
Her mother also provided an excellent reference of an actual superhero. Phoenix feels that not reading comics growing up was actually helpful, because her imagination of what a female superhero was only limited by her imagination. So she created a comic world where Latinas from different heritages and locations all rise up to save the day.
“I’m lucky because, like I said- I didn’t read comics. Thus, I didn’t get to experience and be miseducated by patriarchal oppressive views of females. I had my mom! My great aunt! Like, actual superheroes that I was raised with. For me, I just write what I know.
Showcasing the Latinas of different heritages (Chicana, Dominican, Mexican, etc…) was just because it’s important. Locations, ages, powers were chosen based on what makes them distinct enough from each other, where they’d be based on their heritage, and still relatable to each other to bounce off each other when they’re a team.”
Each comic has a dynamic female character at the heart of the story and action.
JALISCO – a young girl from Guadalajara who goes to the park with her mother to watch folklorico when her mother disappears. She becomes a blade wielding folklorico dancer who is aon a quest to find her mother.
SANTA – a young woman lives in a small town in Texas when politics, racism, and the disappearances of citizens mean it’s time for her to step up and make things right.
LOQUITA – she’s a high schooler in Miami who discovers she has the power to see the supernatural. Can she balance being a supernatural teen detective, while also getting good grades and not making her family suspicious?
RUCA – which wll be out in winter 2021 is about a vigilante taking justice.
BANDIT- will be out in winter 2022 is about a gunslinger in modern day New York.
Kayden’s mother was a folklorico dancer, and besides inspiring a character, the movement and sense of theatrics helped to further inform the way she created her superheroines.
“I like movement. There’s always been a comparison between dance and fighting- they’re fluid movements and always with a partner. Same thing with being on stage- you perform a show- just like superheroes eventually have to do- they live up to their superhero name. To me, they’re one in the same- they parallel.”
Phoenix makes it a point to invite other women to work with her teams and this experience has proven to be a winning combination for Phoenix both in comics and in film. All of the comics come to life thanks to a team of talented Latina artists behind the scenes.
“I’m a firm believer of equality, on all levels. I’ve hired all Latina teams, all female crew, and even all veteran cast and crew (on a veteran PTSD short film). I’m fortunate that I haven’t had trouble with hiring boys- I have nothing against them- but they don’t need hashtags of #EqualPay, #VisibleWomen, etc. There’s no months to shine attention to their oppression from patriarchal society- diverse have to have that. The best part about working with girls is that we all understand the cause very easily, thus it’s always harmonic. There’s no egos, there’s just an understanding of the bigger picture- so we always get great results.”
Kayden is also a founder of the non-profit called The Chicana Director’s Initiative to expand the opportunities and representation and fair pay within the entertainment industry.
“CDI is a non-profit I founded for Latina directors and cinematographers in Los Angeles and New York. The purpose is to have equal pay and fair representation. Extremely simple asks but that’s 2 on the diversity card: female and Latina. CDI helps build a strong foundation so that we can gain studio level work.”
While theatre is not something that Kayden has much experience with, she says that the goals for representation that she is working for in film and comics also apply to theatre as well.Groups like Artists for Economic Transparency, co-founded by Karen Olivo are important to expand representation in the theatre industry. But even representation in theatrical films like IN THE HEIGHTS are important.
“I do commend the groups for taking a stand and fighting for change.
IN THE HEIGHTS was a great musical feature. If a specific location (like Washington Heights) is 75% Dominican, then 75% of your cast, dancers, background should be Dominican, no? It seems obvious. Was it a great film, yes. Should they have honored the community, absolutely.”
Check out the fierce superheroines from Kayden Phoenix in her A LA BRAVA comic series. You can get more information to purchase the comics, the creators, and learn of new release dates at https://latinasuperheroes.com
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