Representation is very important in the entertainment industry. Diversity on television has been an issue for many years. There is not much Latinx representation on TV. There are zero shows with a Latinx cast on mainstream television. If there is, it does not get picked up for another season. Growing up there was really no one that looked like me on television, no one that I could relate to and no one who had the same culture and traditions as me. The representation of Latinx is also important for the world to see because we have so much to offer. We are a rich culture with amazing traditions and even more amazing stories to tell. Representation on TV is often marginalized to specific roles that often perpetuate stereotypes outside of the Media. It’s important for people to see the proper portrayal of the Latinx community.
As a part of our series about pop culture’s rising stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Liz Muentes. Liz is a 3x Emmy Award Multimedia Producer and Journalist with 10 years of experience within the television industry. As a Digital Reporter/Producer for News 12 she works on lifestyle and human-interest stories and has her pulse on the latest music, arts, restaurants and local spots in the New York Tri-state area.
Liz began her career at WNET- the nation’s largest PBS member station, where she oversaw pre-production through post-production development of various programs, such as news and politics, business affairs, the arts and science and technology.
She has worked with many high profiled celebrities and politicians such as, Chris Christie, Bob Menendez, Judith Light, Norm Lewis, Bill Nye the Science Guy, Betsey Johnson, Carolina Herrera to name a few.
She believes that her constant desire to learn from her surroundings and from her peers has placed her in her current career path. She is excited and inspired for what’s to come. She hopes that her career will help impact her community in a positive way.
Liz is a graduate from St. John’s University with a Bachelor of Science in Public Relations and a Master’s in International Communication.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
I am a born and raised New Yorker! Growing up on Long Island, I knew that New York was the place where many come to make their dreams a reality and I was lucky to have NY at my fingertip.
I am a St. John’s graduate, receiving a Bachelor of Science in Public Relations and a Master’s in International Communications. I had really great professors and resources around me that made me know that I wanted my career to be in the Media. I was involved in the Campus TV Station, where I held a position as a Production Secretary and host of WRED-TV. I was also President of the Public Relations Club.
Ten years later and 3 Emmy’s I am proud to be able to share the stories of amazing people and places with the public.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
While at St. John’s, I was fortunate to have amazing professors who were able to help me combine my interest in the Entertainment Industry with my major, and it made learning so much more exciting because I was applying my interest with a career that I knew I would love.
But it was at WRED-TV, the campus TV station, where I got my first experience in television. WRED-TV became my home and I shared the love and passion for it with like-minded people who I am fortunate to still call friends to this day. At WRED-TV, I covered everything from sports to plays to concerts. I learned the fundamentals for creating a segment and putting together a TV show.
You could say I couldn’t get enough of St. Johns as I pursued a Master’s in International Communications right after graduation. During that time, I had the opportunity to freelance at WNET on a documentary about Fashion Week at Lincoln Center. This was my first eye opening experience to where I wanted my career to go. I assisted on shoots at different Fashion shows, helped set up interviews with top fashion designers and was able to see how a documentary is put together.
After graduation I joined the WNET team full-time and worked there for the next 8 years. I was a producer on various shows about Science, Tech, Business, the Arts and worked on various documentaries. I was able to learn how to properly tell a story to the viewer that was both educational and entertaining. I had the opportunity to work within these different genres learning from politicians, celebrities, filmmakers, scientist and so many more!
I love storytelling and sharing stories with the public, that passion bought me to my current job as a Features Reporter/Producer for News 12. I report on music, arts, restaurants and local spots in the tri-state area. I’m able to shoot, write, and edit and really bring a story to life. Showcasing stories that sometimes are overlooked. The experience is rewarding as I get to meet new people and learn about their craft.
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
Definitely winning my first and second Emmy on the same night! I was extremely proud of the first win. I co-produced a show called Latino Americans of NY and I was able to tell the stories of people like me in a fun and educational way. I had worked hard on the documentary with limited funding and resources and I was so proud of the show and the feedback I had gotten from my peers and the public.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
I have some great and fun stories in the pipeline, which I hope to share soon, so stay tuned!
We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?
Representation is very important in the entertainment industry. Diversity on television has been an issue for many years. There is not much Latinx representation on TV. There are zero shows with a Latinx cast on mainstream television. If there is, it does not get picked up for another season. Growing up there was really no one that looked like me on television, no one that I could relate to and no one who had the same culture and traditions as me.
The representation of Latinx is also important for the world to see because we have so much to offer. We are a rich culture with amazing traditions and even more amazing stories to tell. Representation on TV is often marginalized to specific roles that often perpetuate stereotypes outside of the Media. It’s important for people to see the proper portrayal of the Latinx community.
It’s also important to have diversity in the workplace, especially in the Media. It helps with expanding the industry. Often times there are decisions that are made by people that are not part of a culture that is being portrayed and misinformation or improper portrayals could be avoided with the input of a diverse group.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
Never give up on your dreams: The entertainment industry is a tough industry. There will be people in it who will tell you that you aren’t good enough, that you aren’t ready and won’t give you an opportunity. Know that you can do it and keep pushing through.
Invest in yourself: Make a portfolio of all your work by making a website, if you are a video creator buy your own equipment, in the long run it will pay off.
Network: Networking is super important. Getting to know individuals in your field or other fields can really make you understand what is out there.
Don’t be afraid to change: Don’t be afraid to change career goals and paths. Immerse yourself in different sectors of the industry and learn as much as you can!
Take risks: Don’t be afraid of taking risk. It could be a career change to making a phone call to a celebrity you never thought would give you an interview. Do it, you never know the impact or better opportunities it will have on you.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Remember to have you time and take a break. Catch up with friends and family, go see a show, go to dinner. The TV/Entertainment industry can be very strenuous, but it can be super rewarding. Just enjoy your journey and take the experience in.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
I would love to host monthly events with young Latinas, as young as elementary school to be mentored by Latina women in different fields. I want to show them that there are many women who look like them and the endless possibilities that are available to them. I want to be that person young people look up to.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
My Parents. My parents are the reason of where I am today. My parents always taught me to work hard and strive for my dreams and success. They made many sacrifices for my sisters and I to have the life that we have today. I am truly living the American Dream.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I- I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference”.
In life there are many paths that one can take, paths that you want, paths that others wants for you. You are in charge of your life and dreams. You will hear a lot of no’s in life, but as long as you believe in your power you will never let your dreams die.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. :-)
Oprah! She is the “Queen of All Media” She’s such a strong and successful woman who even though the industry told her no, she kept fighting and is the TV icon we see today.
How can our readers follow you online?
Instagram @LizMuentes, Facebook @LizMuentesTV and my website is www.LizMuentes.com
This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!