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'Afuera' Exposes The Real World Of An Undocumented Latinx Transgender Woman

"When you think about trans narratives, we don’t really think about an intersection of immigration."

Afuera, a short film directed by Steven Liang and written by Steven Canals, shows the harsh realities undocumented transgender women face everyday. The film tells the story of Jennifer, (played by transgender Mexican actress Jennifer London) who by any means necessary has to survive working the streets. Amid her illegal immigration status, she’s succumbed to a drug addiction and is simultaneously forced to deal with the sharp parallels of being in love.

For Liang, it was pivotal to create a project that showcased these struggles because often times these stories go untold.   “I really wanted to focus on the Latina transgender community because the undocumented process has never been talked about before,” he says seated on a small velvet couch inside the pressroom for the LA Film Festival, on the third floor of The Culver Hotel. “When you think about trans narratives, we don’t really think about an intersection of immigration. We see Caitlyn Jenner and Transparent, but we don’t see the other side with the struggles that undocumented and immigrant women go through on a daily basis.”

Within these struggles comes the big issue surrounding the incarceration of illegal trans people. Most are housed in ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) detention centers. According to a report released by the Human Rights Watch this March, of the estimated 30,000 immigrants detained in a day, at least 65 are transgender women. Most face sexual abuse and a slew of discriminations. Liang notes this is a subject he wishes to tackle further if the film or something similar expands into something larger.

“There are a lot of transgender sisters in the immigration detention centers. They have really really sad stories,” Jennifer points out, “but stories that can be good to show. So [people] can understand before they judge a person that is undocumented or from another country because sometimes they come running away from violence.”

Besides showing the main subject navigate an unstable life in the world of sex work, Liang also made sure to chronicle a love story all the while, as Jennifer is in a committed relationship with Pedro (played by Colombian actor Santiago Malkuth).

Within their love, you’ll see the plight of Jennifer struggling to oblige to Pedro’s demands of not resorting to sex work, something that inevitably doesn’t end up happening. Yet, Liang does what few have done, and that is to showcase a love narrative involving a transgender person, which in turn, depicts how difficult it is for a trans person to find love in a patriarchal society overflowing with anti-LGBT views.

Seated across from Liang sporting a black fedora hat, Malkuth echoes these sentiments. “I want people to pay attention to the love story because it’s really hard for a trans person to fall in love and have a long term relationship,” he says. “And the struggles that all the people who decide to love a trans person go through. That’s an issue that a lot of people are not aware of.”

In addition to this rarely told account, keeping the script in Spanish with English subtitles makes the movie feel a lot more authentic to the message it's trying to convey. (This holds true with how diverse the cast is—the majority of color and subscribing to the LGBTQ community.)

Visually, the film excels in showcasing the many issues that keep Jennifer at the margins of  society. Through dark and gritty imagery of Los Angeles streets, you’ll see her on a hunt for her vices  with the desperation of still keeping Pedro's love and surviving. One scene in particular hits home when she is seen at a taco joint in a seemingly rough part of town. There she confronts two other Latina trans women for her drugs. After the scuffle, one suggests she get out of selling her body in exchange for survival, while the other reminds her of the impossibility as she is undocumented.

Harsh? Yes. But that’s exactly the point London wants the masses to take with them after watching Afuera: how hard it really is being trans and undocumented. What's more, she hopes people see Jennifer as human. “It’s more than just a transgender sex worker movie,” she says. “Transgender women are more than that. We are girls filled with dreams. And we want to fall in love with somebody, and live a life with somebody and grow old with them. I would like people to see the passion that Jennifer has for life, and the warrior that she is everyday."

“We decided specifically not to translate it into English because ‘Afuera’ in Spanish means outside and it has the connotation of freedom and feeling liberated,” Liang says when asked of the meaning behind the film’s title. “It takes so much courage for an undocumented trans women just to be outside and live their lives like a regular person out in the open. That dichotomy was really intriguing because you have to live and in order to live you have to be in public.”

Afuera premiered on June 3 at the 2016 Los Angeles Film Festival. For more information on the film you can click on, here.

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Cardi B's Latest Freestyle Fuels Anticipation For Sophomore Album

Cardi B is sparking more anticipation for her next album thanks to her latest freestyle. On Monday (Nov. 19), the rapper dropped some bars on Instagram to hold fans over until the release of her sophomore project.

"Just a little something something... hair on healthy," she captioned the freestyle over Cam'ron's classic track, "357." Keeping it natural and raw, the Bronx native posts up in front of Cap'n Crunch and a Costco box full of Vienna sausages to drop her freestyle about the wins and losses she's taken this year.

"I be in the mansion, you be in my mentions / I came right out the trenches to the top of the charts / Lost friends on the way / This s***t is breaking my heart / 'Bout 30 seconds in I'm like where do I start / I don't act I'm a hustler just playing my part,"  she spits.

If anything, this can be a hint to fans that she's gravitating back towards her hip-hop roots, an element heavily heard on her debut album, Invasion of Privacy. In a recent interview with Billboard, Cardi talked about her new album and curiosities about its direction.

"There's certain music that I want to do, but I feel like, [are] people interested in that? I feel like things have changed. It's more like a twerk sound going on right now," she said. "It's just like, 'Should I just do my music around that?' But I cannot just go with what's hot. I still gotta go with what I want to do."

Cardi has no problem adapting to popular music. She's worked with the likes of Selena Gomez on DJ's Snake's "Taki Taki" with Ozuna in 2018 and took her guest spots to another level in 2019 by working with Ed Sheeran ("South of The Border"), Lil Nas X ("Rodeo") and French Montana ("Writings On The Wall"). She also dropped a show-stopping video for "Press" over the summer.

But at the end of the day, Cardi's new music is coming first. "My album is on my mind 24/7,"she said. "It's practically all I'm focusing on."

Enjoy her freestyle (and sleek blowout) below.


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Just alittle something something on healthy.

A post shared by Iamcardib (@iamcardib) on Nov 18, 2019 at 6:55pm PST

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Love To See It: DaniLeigh Choreographed DaBaby's Extraordinary "BOP" Video

Nearly reaching 10 million views in a matter of days, DaBaby's "BOP" music video teaser has A-1 editing, hilarious characters (recorder guy) and perfect choreography. As it turns out, we have DaniLeigh to thank for the rapper's smooth dance moves.

The singer-songwriter teamed up with choreographer Coach Cherry to share her eclectic dance style with the buzzing rapper. "BOP" dropped Friday (Nov. 15) as "BOP on Broadway" with a bevy of dancers taking part in the one-shot style video. Directed by Reel Goats, the teaser feels like the full music video for the single thanks to the three different dance flows including a surprising set by the iconic Jabbawockeez.

DaniLeigh's influence can be felt throughout the video thanks to her signature moves. With her own video reaching 100 million views on YouTube, the singer continued her winning streak with the remix for "Easy" featuring Chris Brown.

The video earned her a Soul Train Music Award nomination for "Best Dance Video" and inspiration for lovers of dance challenges. The Dominican-American might look familiar to many thanks to her contribution to the infamous #InMyFeelings challenge where she managed to hop and bop out of moving car. Ironically, the "Lil Bebe" singer started her career as a backup dancer for the likes of Nelly Furtado and Pharrell. She also choreographed and wrote the treatment for Prince's visuals for "Breakfast Can Wait."

"He wanted it really big in the dance industry so from there, I held auditions and did this video on my own," an 18-year-old Dani told VIBE in 2013. "It's crazy and hard to believe but it was great."

Dani recently released "Cravin" featuring G-Eazy and dropped her debut project The Plan late last year.

Check out the visuals to "BOP" below.

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Netflix Drops Preview Of 'Selena: The Series'

In a video that has amassed over 62,000 views since its Nov. 12 debut, Netflix posted a sneak peek into its upcoming Selena: The Series—Part 1. Within the 60-second clip, viewers witness actress Christian Serratos as the Tejano legend, preparing for a performance in one of Selena’s most iconic outfits.

Serratos has starred in hit series like The Walking Dead, Twilight, American Horror Story: Murder House, and more. In a statement published by Deadline, the show's production company Campanario Entertainment and its president/co-founder Jaime Dávila, praised Serratos for stepping into the "Dreaming Of You" singer's shoes.

“Selena is an inspirational figure who’s transcended generations. At Campanario, we’ve always known it was crucial for this series to find actors with the right mix of talent, charisma, and passion to honor Selena’s legacy and the story of her family,” said Davila. “Our casting director Carla Hool and her team have found an amazing cast to depict the Quintanilla family, and we’re sure fans everywhere will be captivated yet again by Selena’s incredible life.” On March 31, 1995, Selena was murdered, sparking a wave of tributes and films, such as 1997's movie starring Jennifer Lopez as the iconic vocalist.

The program, which chronicles Selena's life and career, is slated to premiere in 2020 with six hourlong episodes. Watch the preview above.

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