‘Vida’ Showrunner Tanya Saracho Says Finding Her Voice Helped Shape Season 2 (Exclusive)

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Tanya Saracho is taking a moment to reflect on her immense success with Vida. 

The show chronicles the life of two Mexican-American sisters, played by Mishel Prada and Melissa Barrera, who return to Boyle Heights, their childhood neighborhood in East Los Angeles, to deal with their mother's sudden death. The six-episode bilingual series premiered in May on Starz.

“I made this as a love letter for us but I also want to make this for the dominant culture, for everyone,” Saracho told ET exclusively. The 42-year-old showrunner describes season one as a three-hour pilot and says the new season will dive into the complexity of various relationships. 

“Now that we’re here, the sisters are here, what happens?” Saracho said. “First of all, they do not know each other, they don’t, so they’re going to go into business with one another and they’re going to for what? They’re going to live under the same roof... That is rough. Imagine when you don’t even know your sister, you have to do double the work of getting to know her as an adult now, because you left each other as kids. So, there’s the labor of that in this new season.”

vida

Melissa Barrera, Mishel Prada, Tanya Saracho, Chelsea Rendon, and Ser Anzoategui.

Getty Images

Saracho wrote a portion of season two during the production process of season one. “We knew exactly where we needed to go and what was a misstep and what was the right step, by then these characters were in me, they were a part of my DNA.”

“It was something that unhinged and just flowed out, and it was a great feeling,” she added. “It’s like, trust that the characters are speaking to you... that you know where the story needs to go.”

Saracho, who began her career as a Chicago-based playwright, says she’s been working on finding her voice in Hollywood. 

“It’s just hard because when you start a project, you’re still learning the language,” she explained. “I carry a lot of insecurity, I hope some of that goes away. I don’t know if that will affect the voice [of the show], or maybe that is the voice? I don’t know, because I am flawed, maybe the characters are flawed. I hope my foot is more sure after this last season.”

“This [show] serves as a possibility to represent brown women and queers,” Saracho expressed. “I also carry that a lot like, ‘Oh my god, we have to do this right.’”

She admits that one of her biggest strengths now is the ability to quickly “make a decision.” “I’ve become really good at not even thinking, just going with my gut,” she said. 

Saracho, who founded an all-Latina theatre company called Teatro Luna in Chicago, says having the support of talented and caring women over the past 10 years is something she wants others to experience and she’s making it her mission to mentor a younger generation. Earlier this month she participated in the Diverse Women in Media Forum, hosted by the National Association of Latino Independent Producers (NALIP) at the London Hotel in West Hollywood, California.

The forum is an exclusive one-day event that aims to empower, inspire and advance women of diverse backgrounds in media to improve diverse representation on and behind the camera.

“I love all the NALIP events and this one specifically that focuses on women,” she said. “It’s so necessary, especially right now, to come together in sisterhood in a way and take the temperature of what’s happening and to be in solidarity, it’s invaluable.”

“We have to reach back in order to reach forward,” she added. “You have to hook hands and be like, ‘Okay, this is how I did it and this is how you can do it.’ It’s about that support. But, it’s not even just the career stuff... I’m also asking how do I stay healthy? How do I stay balanced?” 

For more on NALIP, visit their website. Season two of Vida will premiere spring 2019 on Starz. 

Get more Latinx news on ET MÁS, ETonline's new section featuring the latest celeb, film, TV, music and style news. 

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