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“I Only See the Typical Stereotypes,” Meet Alex Sorto

Alex Sorto immigrated from Honduras when he was 16 years old and is now a dynamic entrepreneur, an incredible filmmaker, rapper, graphic artist, and his signature on his email says, “Future CEO.” With English as his second language, he found his way to BAYCAT through one of our programs at San Francisco International High School and has since inspired our own CEO Villy Wang to do a TED Talk. After directing award-winning music video ‘Hard Times,’ Alex began college at California State University, East Bay where he’s studying Multimedia, Marketing and Advertising full time. Yet despite his success, Alex says that when other people look at him, they won’t necessarily see him as a filmmaker or a music maker.

We’re always portrayed as the gang members, the drug dealers, the maids, the Spanish speakers who don’t know English,” says Alex. “On TV, we’re never the main actors. We aren’t portrayed as being successful.” So in the eyes of other people, Alex doesn’t feel seen for who he truly is or, the values he represents or the future he imagines for himself. “They never show a Latino who is a CEO, never.” Instead Alex sees the media industry profiting by villianizing his culture.

Like Angela, Alex carries the burden of misrepresentation by the media every day. He recalls how he went to a job interview and the first thing they asked was, “How good is your English?” Though he is bilingual, Alex wants the world to know that not all Latinos only speak Spanish.

Before BAYCAT, Alex wanted to be a musician. He remembers thinking, it doesn’t matter what I’ve been through, nobody cares about Alex. But then I came to BAYCAT and they said, it does matter, and people need to hear it, people need to know who you are. Without BAYCAT I wouldn’t be who I am today.” At BAYCAT he learned English, filmmaking, music production and most of all, that his own story matters.

Latino Success

“The media always make us feel like we aren’t worth being represented in a positive way. It’s sad, that we are always seen as the bad guys.”

Alex might attribute his success as a creative to BAYCAT, but BAYCAT owes our success just as much to young people like Alex. CEO Villy remembers, “We were talking and dreaming about doing a TED Talk, and he showed me his draft of what his would look like. Seeing his fearlessness to tell his story, he inspired me to pitch his story and then mine. I wouldn’t have been invited to do a TED Talk if it wasn’t for Alex.

Alex makes media to change the way people think. He is sick of the lack of diversity in media creation. He imagines a world where communities represent themselves in media. Only then, he says, will people see the reality of diverse communities from their own point of view, without stereotypes or bias. Alex’s simple solution: 1. Be the change you wish to see AND 2. Donate to BAYCAT

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“Stop Dumbing Yourself Down,” Meet Angela King

16 year old Angela King can light up an entire room with just one of her signature smiles. She is a singer, songwriter, music producer, activist and a high school junior. A seasoned BAYCAT student, Angela is an indispensable role model to our younger students. Yet from an early age she struggled to find role models in the media. She was disappointed to find time and time again that people who looked like her were often represented as “loud and ignorant”.

“Media representation is not authentic, what you see in media does not parallel what you see in real life.” Angela talks about the internalized oppression she’s experienced as a result of how African American youth are portrayed in the media, “you start hearing things about yourself and you start believing it, and you think you’re supposed to act the way you’ve been told to act. You start to take into account how people view that image of you. Though Angela defies the negative stereotypes that she sees represented in the media, she says, It almost gets to me.”

As the only African American female in her entire AP Geography course, Angela admits that she used to feel that she had to fit herself into the stereotypes she saw on the media: “I wanted to hide my intellect. I wanted to hide my knowledge. I didn’t want to seem intelligent. In order to fit in with my community, I had to dumb myself down and that’s something I felt I had to do because that’s how I have been represented. What does that say about misrepresentation?” Angela says, “I ask myself why there isn’t more people like me represented to look educated? Smart?”

Before coming to BAYCAT, Angela had big dreams about one day being a superstar. Think: Beyonce. Unfortunately, she had no idea how to make that dream a reality. At 11 years old, she walked through BAYCAT’s doors, admittedly introverted and unable to look anyone in the eyes. Immediately she realized that BAYCAT was going to be really special. I knew this was a place where I’m comfortable being me”, she says.

Angela recalls her first solo song that she made at BAYCAT, about moving outside San Francisco and not having a space of her own to write music. Angela’s family, like so many others, had been displaced by skyrocketing housing costs, but she says, writing that song helped me get that stress off my mind”.

Though women and people of color are grossly underrepresented in creative media roles, the lack of diversity in media is something Angela knows we can change,I’m 100% sure that not just white men can make media. I make media, and I’m not a man or white.”

“BAYCAT is giving opportunities to people like me, to represent me, in the right way. BAYCAT has brought tons of joy and inspiration into my life. I used to see myself as somebody who wasn’t musically gifted enough. Even though I had big dreams, I lacked self confidence and now after seeing what I have already done at BAYCAT, it gives me a lot of pride.”

Remember Angela’s dream? That pop star dream? In just a few years it’s molded into something radically bigger, and much more authentic. Wise beyond her years, Angela explains, “It’s not about becoming the next Beyonce. It’s not about becoming Drake. It’s about becoming YOU. Honestly, be yourself. I’ve faced a lot of internalized oppression about myself, and I won’t be labeled as anybody else but me.”

Even after all she’s accomplished at just 16 years old, Angela reminds us, “you can’t put a due date on art.” What’s next for Angela? She wants to record more solo music that takes a stand against misrepresentation in the media. I hope more people get to see the wonder of BAYCAT. I hope people stop seeing people who look like me as people who don’t care about education.”

Sick of the same stories? Your new storytellers are here. Join us.

Donate to BAYCAT to support powerful young women like Angela King.