‘When I Win, I Uplift’: Kristal Sotomayor on Finding Support For Media Makers of Color

Growing up as a child of immigrants, ¡Presente! Media cofounder Kristal Sotomayor frequently found ways to make money however possible. Money could be scarce for their family, so even trips to play at the park presented an opportunity for the youngster to profit, selling bracelets to other kids.

“Immigrants are the biggest hustlers,” they told Technical.ly. “My mother has had so many jobs. Both my parents had to go to college here [in the U.S.] and learn a new trade. You have to hustle to make a life in a country where you have zero capital.”

Sotomayor’s parents emigrated to the U.S. from Peru in 1995, and Sotomayor was born later that year. Like many children of immigrants, Sotomayor’s parents pushed for them to find a stable career. Their parents thought they would make a great doctor, so after high school they enrolled in Bryn Mawr College and majored in pre-medicine. After a few classes, they quickly realized they might have a different professional path ahead of them.

“I took a step back and realized I really liked my Spanish class,” they said. “From there, I took more Spanish literature classes and film arose from that exploration because some of my teachers taught film. I did well in those classes and had a lot of fun.”

While in college, Sotomayor made a short thesis film, “To My Motherland.” The film was shown at several film festivals, and that experience, combined with Sotomayor’s volunteer work with the Philadelphia Latino Film Festival, showed them they could succeed in film.

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