(L-R) Sergio Alfaro, President, and Flavio Morales, Executive Vice President of BIG VIDA Entertainment.
As we embark on the road to the 2014 NCLR ALMA Awards, we would like to for you to meet two very important members of the team, Sergio Alfaro and Flavio Morales from BIG VIDA Entertainment, a Latino-led production company. Both Sergio and Flavio who served as executive producers on last year’s show and return in these roles this year, exemplify the hopes that we have for the younger generations of Latinos. Sergio and Flavio prove that Latinos can, and will be, successful in the entertainment industry when they are given the chance to tell their stories both in front of, as well as behind the camera.
We recently asked Sergio and Flavio a series of questions that we would like to share with you:
Sergio, we know you started your career helping produce live concerts with artists like U2, Celine Dion and the Black Eyed Peas. Can you tell us how you decided this was what you wanted to do and how you got started in the industry?
Music has always been in my family. My grandfather had a band and as a kid I always would sneak instruments from the music room and try to play them. As for how I got started, I was lucky enough to begin my career with Ken Ehrlich via an introduction by David Wader. As we all know Ken Ehrlich is one of the greatest live event producers ever. Ken’s right had man Ron Basile took me under his wing and between the two of them we traveled the world working on projects together for over ten years.
What is your most memorable experience or show from early in your career?
I’d have to say the opening of the Superdome in New Orleans after Katrina. The silence in the arena was absolute, then Green Day and U2 started playing “the Saints are coming” and the roar of the crowd was incredible! People were crying, singing and there was a sense of unity amongst the thousands of people unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. I still get emotional just thinking about that moment.
Flavio, you started your career in media at places like LATV and mun2. How did you first get involved with the industry?
I started at 17 as a senior in high school producing a public access show with my brothers and my friend Richard Estrada called ILLEGAL interns. We played music from The Smiths, Depeche Mode, techno and then evolved to rock en Español. We also covered the Chicano art scene in East LA. It was this independent DIY style that helped me learn to produce regardless of the budget limitations. It was also the start of what is now bilingual TV.
What advice would you give young people hoping to break into the production side of entertainment?
GO TO SCHOOL! I had to learn the hard way and now appreciate the fact that higher education establishes relationships that are key in entering the job market. There also needs to be an understanding that entertainment is not like any other profession, nothing is guaranteed and you can never take no for an answer.
What’s the best piece of advice that was given to you that you still carry with you today? SERGIO: You’re only as good as your last show!
FLAVIO: Last man standing WINS.
As a brand new production company, how did you end up working on the NCLR ALMA Awards?
I worked on the ALMA Awards 14 years ago and again 12 years ago, so I was not a stranger to the NCLR family. Flavio had the idea of going after it so we did and after convincing NCLR and NBC of our abilities, we got the job. We feel we brought something new to the ALMA’s being a Latino-led company and felt a sense of honor and pride. We got the chance to prove ourselves not only to the community but to our families. We walked away from last year’s show proud.
What was your favorite part about producing the 2013 NCLR ALMA Awards?
SERGIO: Tough question, I had two.Aloe Blacc was great on so many levels.His song had not saturated the market yet nor had it been put on every other award show, we were the first.The “I am American” piece was beautiful.So often Latinos are seen as foreigners when in fact we are second and third generation Americans.The photos during that piece while the national anthem was sung showed how we Latinos are your doctors, teachers, nurses, lawyers and not just your gardeners and second hand cooks.
FLAVIO: Seeing people’s reactions in the theatre once the show was over. People could not believe how fast it went and how they wanted to see more. At the after party, meeting so many NCLR members that night and them thanking us for elevating the production and hearing them say over and over “you guys got the mission, you get it”.
As a Latino-led production company, what insight or perspective do you contribute to the show?
SERGIO: Real sensibility.You have to be a part of a community in order to understand it.
FLAVIO: The ALMAs are the only nationally televised awards show focused on US Latinos, our job is to highlight and create a one-of-a-kind platform. That POV (point of view) can never be lost.
Do you think it’s important to have more mission-focused award shows?
Of course, we just need to continue to find creative ways of expressing the mission while entertaining.
BIG VIDA Entertainment is dedicated to creating content in English and Spanish that serves the fast-growing U.S. Latino and international markets. Launched in 2013 by John Ehrhard, CEO of Pink Sneakers Productions, BIG VIDA is led by experienced TV producers Sergio Alfaro, President, and Peabody Award winner Flavio Morales, Executive Vice President.