Digame is a monthly series featuring prominent Latinx leaders, activists, entrepreneurs, and public figures uplifting the community and making a difference.
Nydia Simone is a Panamanian-American filmmaker and entrepreneur with a passion for Afro-Latinx and Caribbean stories. She’s worked in both TV and film with ABC, Disney Animations Studios, and NBC among others. She secured distribution for her digital series In This Life via an online streaming service as well as her show Conexíon on BronxNeT TV which has a viewership of 1 million. She founded Blactina Media to amplify Afro-Latinx and Caribbean stories, specifically women’s stories, producing content for film, digital and television as well as hosting events including Black healing retreats in the Dominican Republic. She is currently expanding to telling Afro-Latinx stories through visual art via Blactina Galeria which connects local Caribbean artists to buyers in the United States and United Kingdom.
Which Latina(s) have had the greatest impact on your life and why?
Mamá Tingó, Victoria Santa Cruz and Sonia Pierre. They’re all dead but they live within me. Mamá Tingó was a Dominican woman who was assassinated after fighting for the rights of farm families in the Dominican Republic and she saved the farms of 300 families. Victoria Santa Cruz was the Peruvian Nina Simone in my opinion and she taught me to continue to be as Black as I am in ALL spaces and I don’t have to conform to any Euro-Latino identity to be accepted. Sonia Pierre is another Dominican woman who taught me that I need to make sure I am working hard for my happiness and peace just as hard as I do for my business. She died very young and I believe she would still be here if she took breaks.
If you had a superpower, what would it be?
I would want to bring the dead back to life.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Slow down, life is long and at this point I know you will wear yourself out quickly if you go too fast.
What would you title the autobiography of your life?
What was the first thing you bought with your own money?
I actually don’t remember but I’m sure it was food. hehe.
What do you wish more people understood about what you do?
To be honest, i think most people understand what I do and why it’s so valuable and important which is why I have such a large and loyal following.
What motivates you?
My imagination, my family and the fun of creating from scratch. I enjoy my work a lot and I find the research it takes to create really fun.
How did you end up on the professional path you’re on now?
I had a hard time making it in Hollywood when I lived in LA and I decided to be a big fish in a small pond and focus on telling Afro-Latinx stories since I didn’t see anyone doing it. Then I wrote the Blactina show, but I had a hard time getting it financed so I made a community instead and now I have more opportunities since my community follows me even if I do something outside of Hollywood. Currently I’m selling original Haitian art from the Dominican Republic and the same audience is buying paintings even though selling art through Blactina wasn’t the original plan.
The core of my business is amplifying Afro-Latinx stories and history and even selling art fits in that core because people get to learn about history through the art, and it’s physical so they can touch it and even pass it down to their children.
What is your greatest professional achievement so far? Personal achievement?
I will have more this year since I’m working on some cool projects but to date it’s working with Telemundo (of course) and getting the name Blactina trademarked by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. I did it myself with no lawyer so I’m really proud. Personally it’s living in a house on my own with a guest room and being independent. I didn’t grow up with a lot of space and extra still so it feels good to live in a beautiful home alone. Yes I am a Taurus. #bullgang
What is a goal you have that you haven’t accomplished yet and what are you doing to get closer to accomplishing it?
I want to produce my films/tv shows. Filmmaking is a long game so right now I’m breaking it up into smaller pieces like writing a short film to promote my feature film about four Afro-Latina best friends who go to a Caribbean island for spring break. Since the film will cost at least $330k, I’m writing a 10 minute short film I can produce cheaply that will get interest from potential investors.
Shoutout an Instagram account that could use more love: @hashtagiamenough
This is a great account similar to Blactina but has a different angle and is focused more on empowering Afro-Latinas through their personal stories. [Founder] Jenay is also a Panameña and she’s a journalist.
Shoutout your favorite Latina owned business: and why: @rizoscurls
So many!!! But I honestly aspire to be like Rizos Curls. I love how Julissa Prado has navigated her industry and stayed true to her Mexican roots. I also love how she uses social media storytelling as a marketing strategy.
Name your favorites:
Snack: Kinder Bueno chocolate
Song: Right now, “Pick up your feelings” by Jazmine Sullivan
Artist: She’s my favorite artist right now too.