Puerto Rican, empanada enthusiast (above all, cheese, and preferably her mother’s), iPhone freak, and deep-rooted writer, Alexis Tirado is many things. She’s also an emerging leader of the digital space for Latinos in the United States as Editorial Director for The Flama, Univision’s take on Buzzfeed.
“My mom is from El Salvador and my dad is from Puerto Rico. I identify more with my Puerto Rican side because I grew up with my dad’s side of the family,” Alexis told Digital Trends Español. “My father’s family was one of the first Latino families in Washington Heights.”
“Media is tough … and you have to be a heroine.”
Alexis embraces her Latin heritage from all angles. She’s also one of the most prominent voices speaking for Hispanic millennials — with a lot to say. She has all the attributes of that generation, most importantly, a knack for multitasking. As we talked on the phone, she was on her way home from the gym, but not before ordering a turkey burger. And she eloquently carries on a conversation, even while searching her phone’s browser for a quote from one of her favorite writers, Nora Ephron: “Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim.”
Ephron is an inspiration for Alexis, and to her, the quote speaks to the challenges of working in the media world. “Media is tough … and you have to be a heroine. If you have a story you have to keep going. As Latinas, we have a mission in life, you know. We have to be the storytellers and pave the way so other Latinas do the same thing.”
Mastering her craft
Alexis has worked as a blogger for Martha Stewart and Alicia Keys, and has also worked for MTV Act. Most recently, Alexis joined The Flama, Univision’s digital content platform in English — sometimes with hints of Spanish — intended for Millennials (second- and third-generation Hispanics). As Editorial Director for the platform, Alexis is responsible for crafting the editorial content with topics ranging from comedy to popular culture on Spanish-Latin idiosyncrasies.
Alexis has a track record of success. She started writing at a young age — she loved stories, comic books, and kept her own journal. In high school, before text-messaging and smartphones were even things, Alexis wrote notes to people, and during her last year of college, her teacher told her she had the potential to become a writer.
“No one ever said that to me before. I was really shocked. That changed everything for me. That gave me the confidence to pursue a career in writing, and then I started in magazines, websites, and the Internet. I like social media … it’s so fun and so quick.”
While talking to Alexis, it’s easy to notice her commitment and passion for pop culture and everything social. It’s insightful and bold, with a touch of irreverence, and an attitude of Latino empowerment that goes beyond mere words. As the editor of MTV Act, she highlighted the positive contributions of millennials, celebrities, and organizations seeking to improve their lives and the lives of others.
Out of 8,500 candidates, Tirado was chosen to become the head blogger for Alicia Keys’ 2010 campaign, I Am Super Woman. She also served as an online editor for Martha Stewart Living’s Omnimedia project, Dreamers into Doers, which encourages and helps women become entrepreneurs.
“I had the opportunity to work with these two wonderful women … both are successful because they had a good foundation and people who believed in what they were doing … Both wanted to create communities and content that will inspire other women, younger, either through songs or through other skills,” Alexis pointed out when asked about her experience with these two high profile personalities.
Her fighting spirit, inherited from her parents and grandmother (Puerto Rican and Salvadorean), has stood throughout her career. “My grandmother was married twice. The first time she was a widow, she decided to move from Puerto Rico to New York City on her own. She never accepted any welfare or food stamps. She worked as a seamstress. She is such a strong, strong, strong woman. I have never met a stronger woman in my life.” At The Flama, Alexis carries on this legacy of empowerment for women, especially Latinas.
En route to South by South West 2016
Alexis will have the opportunity to participate as a panelist in one of the most important events in music, film and digital media of the United States – South by Southwest 2016, being held in Austin, Texas. Considering the limited Latino presence at such events in the past, having the opportunity to discuss issues relevant to the Hispanic market is an achievement for Alexis, and very significant for the community. Her panel is called Marketing Latino Cool (March 14), and along with a group of prominent representatives of the Latino media, they will analyze the transition from traditional marketing aimed at Hispanics to a more dynamic, sophisticated and complex format composed by second- and third-generation Latinos.
“It is important that good marketers, its brands, its agencies, people in general understand that there are so many different textures and layers to the Latino experience and that we are not all one thing. We are not all JLo fans … We are not all George Lopez fans … We are such a rainbow of millions of colors … and preferences. They need to know the audience and define a little deeper on who we are,” says Alexis.
The Flama is an example of successful marketing to the Hispanic audience, mainly because it is a digital space created by Latinos for Latinos. It all starts with having a diverse team, followed by content that adapts to certain tastes permeating its Millenial audience.
Some publishers still feel distrust for the Hispanic market, and this is directly proportional to their lack of knowledge of the community. For Alexis, breaking down that barrier is part of her job at The Flama. “We do a good job through comedy … we do a good job informing our audience of things that are happening … We do a good job celebrating our heritage, our culture and our pride,” she explains. “We really care about what we’re doing. We all know that is important and we all want to elevate the Latino voice.”
La Flama seeks to create multiple spaces that capture a Hispanic audience, a demographic that will only grow and have greater representation in the media, both digital and traditional, in years ahead. “We’re always fighting for a seat at the table, the main table in main stream media,” Alexis tells us. “Sometimes you have just to make your own table and sit at it, creating content and trying to becoming your own story tellers, until it becomes mainstream.”
Alexis feels that the time has come for Latinas in the United States. “I feel like currently being Latina is something trendy,” she says, but stresses that it needs to be more than temporary. “This is a big year for us. Now more than ever is our time to shine, and if someone is reading this article and interview, and are Latina and they want to become writers, they want to create videos or whatever they want to do, they shouldn’t wait anymore, this is the time do to it. People are starting to pay attention to us … People are finally noticing that we have a big reach the country.”