Premium cable’s first latina showrunner is killing the norm with ‘vida’ electricity prices per kwh 2013

In the script for the first episode of her upcoming Starz drama "Vida," the first-time showrunner made sure to make note of the maneuver in a scene when one character, back in town to bury her mother, makes a therapeutic visit to her favorite local taqueria. A line in the script reads: "She eats a taco the right way."

Saracho and her family moved to the Rio Grande Valley from Mexico when she was about to start middle school. If the entire southern border of the state was the shape your foot makes when its in a high heeled shoe, the Valley, as it’s called in short, would be the ball of the foot.

These days, the relationship between the countries whose cultures meet in the perpetually warm slither of Texas where we once called home is complicated to say the least. But what remains true about the region, Saracho says, is that it breeds a certain confidence of culture — something that served her then and certainly serves her now. When the area you grow up in is predominantly Hispanic — more than 85 percent, according to Census data — there is an absence of the "otherism" that can prove so toxic to a young person, says Saracho.

That’s not to say her transition to an American school was always easy. There were fashion missteps ("I was dressing like a weird immigrant…a lot of blue jean.") and language learning curves that would make reading aloud in class an lesson in the cruel quirks of the English language (why is Plymouth not pronounced ply-mouTH?).

The speech and debate part of the equation had actually been an accident. She signed up thinking she’d be receiving speech therapy — to help her shed her accent — but proved to excel because she had a natural talent for voices and natural inclination for animated delivery. (Years later, she’d pay the bills while rising the ranks as a Chicago playwright by becoming the Spanish-speaking voice of Special K cereal for ten years.)

It wasn’t until fate and some stubborn determination landed her in at Boston University and later Chicago, where she’d establish a theater company, that she realized the rest of the country doesn’t quite operate like the Valley. One story stands out in particular.

The night she moved into her Roscoe Village two-flat in Chicago, two white, female neighbors gave Saracho and her roommate some lemonade and launched into an explanation about the neighborhood while sitting on the stoop of their new building. Watch out for the "sketchy areas," they said.

"Vida," which premieres Sunday, centers on two sisters (Melissa Barrera and Mishel Prada) who upon returning home to the east Los Angeles neighborhood where they grew up after the death of their mother discover they have quite a bit of unpacking to do themselves — as daughters who discover their dead mom was secretly married to a woman and as people who have a complicated relationship with their culture and neighborhood.

At Starz, Saracho, who’s worked on shows like "How to Get Away with Murder" and "Devious Maids," recently inked a three year overall deal, which means she’ll develop new projects for the network. Or, as Saracho explains it to her mother, a loving and faith-driven woman who has never been Los Angeles and doesn’t quite understand what her daughter does for a living: "They gave me a job for three more years."

By early 2016, Saracho was in Fernandez’s office, going into detail about how her love for the network’s show "Outlander" sent her to Scotland and, by chance, into the path of a handsome Scot she sees whenever one of them can make the long journey. ("I was supposed to stay two weeks and I stayed six.")

"It was real; it was authentic. You can tell this wasn’t somebody on the outside looking in and making assumptions about what it means to be Latina, what it means to be queer, what it means to be the other," Fernandez said. "This is somebody who with a lot of heart and humor really had an insider’s perspective."

That’s not exactly how the people of Boyle Heights felt about Saracho when "Vida" was announced. To them, she was no different than the the gentrifying villain her show features — a vendida (sell-out), a gente-fier, a "white-tina". (Saracho had never heard the term before, but after having it yelled at her while filming, she worked it into the script.)

After getting a six-episode order from Starz based on their pilot presentation — the 15 minute teaser for Starz executives used to lobby for a greenlight — she vowed to disrupt the Boyle Heights ecosystem as little as possible. They found other parts of East L.A. to stand in for corners they’d be shooting in often. On the rare day they had to film in Boyle Heights, they made sure their big trucks and base camp were out of the way, often at a large cemetery or field house that was not in use.

"I was listening to them, to respect and to be there the least amount that we could," she says. "Because they’re right. When you go…you kind of gentrify the neighborhood a little bit. And if you’re in production three months, you’re a gentrifying force. I get it."

"It’s like pick-up basketball but it’s art and it’s feminist art and it’s female gaze-creating," "Transparent" creator Jill Soloway, a friend of Saracho’s who worked with her on HBO’s "Looking," tells me later. "So when I watch ‘Vida,’ it’s like, this is a conversation between all of us."

She hopes to see "the Dominican ‘Vida’" one day or "the Puerto Rican ‘Vida.’" She hopes "Vida" makes room for more complicated narratives about what it means to be American. She hopes Hollywood takes chances on Latinx showrunners that don’t have a lot of experience ("because until you get the shot, you don’t know if you can do it"). She hopes more of the voiceless get heard.