Earlier this week, results of an Annenberg Foundation study commissioned by streaming giant Netflix revealed that while they have made significant strides connecting to audiences looking for Black and Asian content, they are falling behind with content that provides representation to Latinx people. In response, La Borinqueña creator Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez tweeted out a suggestion that the streamer should consider making a TV version of his acclaimed graphic novel character, and producing the series in Puerto Rico with a cast of Latinx performers. It's the kind of tweet that content creators toss out there into the wind all the time, but in this case, it caught the attention of some people who might actually be able to make it happen.
La Borinqueña is a Puerto Rican superhero, created by Miranda-Rodriguez and self-published by him with a number of artists attached. Well-reviewed and a big seller for an indie book, La Borinqueña became a much more visible character when she headlined Ricanstruction, a charity graphic novel from DC and Miranda-Rodriguez, in which La Borinqueña teamed up with numerous DC superheroes, with the proceeds from the book going to charities to help Puerto Rico recover from Hurricane Maria.
His tweet caught the attention of actor and filmmaker Rosario Dawson, who tweeted that she would like to direct the pilot, should such a thing ever come to pass. Dawson herself has been spotted on more than one occasion sporting a La Borinqueña costume, and lent her voice to some recent public service messages featuring the character.
All of this led fans of actress Madison Reyes, who appears on Netflix's Julie and the Phantoms, to create a #MadiAsLaBorinqueña hashtag campaign on Twitter and Instagram. Reyes herself has said she would be down to do it if the opportunity came up.
Some of this might feel like pipe dreams, of course; a few thousand tweets and some celebrity attention doesn't, at face value, feel like the kind of thing that would change the course of Netflix's business plan. But indie comics are also something the streamer has been interested in of late, from The Umbrella Academy and The Old Guard to a raft of Mark Millar-created properties in development. And, of course, anybody dismissing fan movements out of hand should look no further than what HBO Max has going on this month with Zack Snyder's Justice League.
"Numbers say it all," Miranda-Rodriguez told ComicBook in a statement. "By 2023 Latinx buying power will be $1.9 trillion. U.S. born Latinx have been consuming content for generations that doesn't reflect our experience nor stories. Until Latinx are in these board rooms, we will not be able to greenlight our own projects. The issue continues to be that Hollywood studios, both old and new, are run by predominantly white men. They are responsible to see the value in everything they decide to produce, whether it resonates with them or not. Unfortunately, our stories don't resonate with them. Until we are seen as valued storytellers, we will continue to be left out. However, social media also adds an important variable here. Consumers now have a platform to articulate their wants and desires. Combine that with celebrities like Rosario Dawson who is using her platform to say that she wants to direct the pilot or Madison Reyes who says she wants to star in this. They then can mobilize their followers to demand that studios listen and that they give us the resources to produce our own stories."
And there's also a big difference between the likes of Dawson tweeting "heck yeah" at a hashtag and coming out and saying that she actively wants to do it. That's what she had to say in a statement of her own, in which she praised the character and suggested that she is actively seeking to develop something in live action.
"La Borinqueña is a brilliant character that has already generated so much goodwill in the world," Dawson said. "I've been a huge fan and grateful collaborator for years and am seeking to continue supporting her by producing and hopefully directing the pilot of a La Borinqueña series. To bring this character to life in live action, hopefully embodied by the incredibly talented Madison Reyes, would be a dream come true. We all need to experience representation on this level."
"We are U.S. born and raised Latinx," Miranda-Rodriguez added. "We work here, we're educated here, we live here, and have families here. We have stories that speak to our experience here in the U.S. There are booming studios in Latin America that do very well, however they're telling a different story than ours here in the U.S. We need U.S. Latinx from here directing, telling, producing, and starring in our own stories."