Since we last checked in on Patty Rodriguez she’s become on-air talent for KIIS.FM’s morning show with Ryan Seacrest, her publishing company Lil’ Libros has expanded, and she’s even ventured in the film industry — she recently pitched a movie script she wrote to Eugenio Derbez and is waiting to hear back.
You could say things are going pretty well, but the incredible thing about Rodriguez is her inability to play small. Sometimes it may take a little while for her to get there, but she always breaks through and uses fear to fuel her dreams not to deter them.
“I never saw myself on-the-air,” she tells HipLatina. After 13 years On Air With Ryan Seacrest, she finally became comfortable with telling stories of local heroes. “People on social media would always tell me ‘oh you don’t have the voice for it’ and I guess I just believed it,” she adds. She didn’t pursue it for a long time because imposter syndrome was holding her back.
But the opportunity came to her anyway. “[Two years ago] my bosses came to me and said that my community listens to me and they wanted to move me over to talent. Thinking back it was me and my fear stopping me. I didn’t think that someone who looks like me, who came from where I came from could do this,” she said. “Now I’m working with my fear instead of running away from it.”
Rodriguez’s says her sense of duty toward the Latinx community — especially in Los Angeles — has shifted. It made her work toward more than just sharing and creating stories, she wanted to make a direct impact and change. Recently, she teamed up with celebrity chef and restaurant owner Bricia Lopez to raise money for The Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES) — a nonprofit organization based in Texas that aims to provide legal services for immigrants. When we continued to read news and see images about children being stripped away from their families at the border, Rodriguez also started a fundraising campaign to provide shoes for children transitioning out of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention and into group homes.
“As a mom, I couldn’t keep scrolling through Instagram after seeing this picture of a child with a soiled dirty diaper with whatever they could find wrapped around his feet,” Rodriguez said.
She was ready to buy a handful of shoes and send them herself, but she decided to invite her followers on social media to join her as well. Through Instagram posts and stories, her crowdfunding quickly raised about $9,000 and with it, she was able to buy 450 pairs of shoes.
“Those are the little things we could do. [Organizations] are constantly looking for donations, shoes, soap, and shampoo. Those are the things we can do and those are the things I like sharing. People want to help, they just don’t know how,” she adds.
Empowering the Latinx Community
It is abundantly clear that a driving force in Rodriguez’s career is her the pride and love she feels for her Mexican culture and heritage. For Rodriguez, however, it’s about more than just representation — it’s about the intent towards the community she says she feels a responsibility to. Whether it’s her voice on the radio, her face on Instagram or her desire to put positive self-affirming images in front of the eyes of our children through her books — Rodriguez says she’s felt even more driven to teach kids to be proud of their culture when she read a quote that really moved her in the documentary Agave: The Spirit of a Nation.
“It’s not what kind of world we’re leaving for our children, it’s what kind of children we are raising to leave in the world,” Rodriguez repeated twice.
In order to inspire empathy and compassion in others, Rodriguez strongly believes we need to lead by example. “We have accepted value in money and things that can easily be replaced, but the important things we put zero value in. Things like family, community, and nature. The world was created perfectly, it’s us that need to be better. We’re constantly expecting things but we’ve never asked: ‘what is expected of me?’ We can’t help every single person but we can always be of service,” she added.
It’s that sense of service that has inspired her to expand her Lil’ Libros books and board games while continuing to diversify them in any way she can. “I never want kids to think their identity will prevent them from succeeding. I don’t know when it happened but at some point, I stopped believing it was possible. I had to unlearn that and get over my fear,” she said.
Lil’ Libros recently signed a new author Eric Ramos and his book “Super Torta” is coming out Spring of 2020. A picture book focusing on Ritchie Valens’ life is also coming soon.
Rodriguez is right, change needs to start with us in order to lead future generations to continue doing the work. It’s important to set that foundation with our children, and now more than ever we need to amplify more positive stories that highlight our communities.
Ultimately, Rodriguez has used her platform to ignite change, motivate those who follow her, and also bring more people along for the ride. “Not only did we build our own table,” Rodriguez said. “But we have a seat at the other table.”
May we all keep boosting each other up and pulling up seats.