A renewal of on-location filming for the television series “Vida” is not being welcomed by some Boyle Heights residents and activists.

A “hood alert” posted by Defend Boyle Heights early Thursday called for neighborhood residents to show up at a location shooting for the show, which will air its second season on Starz this fall.

The alert included photos of a notice informing residents near a location on East First Street where some scenes were to be shot Thursday. One notice said filming would take place Thursday from 5 pm to 3 am. A description of some of those scenes said they would film simulated “tagging” on walls and a protest or march, among others.

Update on 08/31: Around 11 pm Thursday, about two blocks of First Street East of Soto were closed to traffic to allow for production equipment to move in. A security guard stood in front of a location where activists said they would show up and several police vehicle patrolled the area, but there were no reports overnight of any protest.

Vida, which premiered in May, tells the story of two sisters who return to Boyle Heights after their mother dies, to take over a bar run by the late woman’s wife. Several well known Boyle Heights locations appear on the show’s six-episode first season.

The show has been praised for its diverse characters –including several that are brown women and/or queer– and for its employment of a diverse cast and crew.  But the local group, a coalition of community-based organizations that fights against gentrification in Boyle Heights, accuses the show of appropriating the neighborhood’s character while ignoring many of the serious issues the community face.

‘The show… tastelessly exploits the anti-gentrification struggles of Boyle Heights,” the group wrote in a blog post Thursday. “It pokes fun at the serious movement organizing around tenants rights, deportation defense,  and police brutality.”

A spokesperson for Starz confirmed that “Vida” was filming in Boyle Heights Thursday but told the Boyle Heights Beat that the studio would not comment on the Defend Boyle Heights protest.

In May, the show’s creator and executive producer Tanya Saracho said in an interview on KCRW’s The Business that she was surprised when protesters showed up during on-location filming for the show’s pilot episode last year.

Saracho said she was “grateful for the discussion because the discussion is this show… it’s about gentefcation, and I’m embodying that.” The showrunner, who said she identifies as Latinx and queer, said the show’s writers “engaged with the community, had a community liaison, visited non profits, talked to street vendors,” to get the neighborhood right.

Listen to the interview here:

4 Responses

  1. Marilee WEISS

    In Pomona, filming is welcomed with open arms and wallets. The cast and crew eat and shop Pomona. Local businesses receive a welcome influx of ready cash, while people are paid handsomely for allowing their houses, streets ,and storefronts to be filmed.

    • Al Martino

      That’s awesome!!! Here we get protesters that are 30 days away from being evicted from their places of stay that come out and protest. Which makes it hard for production groups who bring money to the neighborhoods

  2. Joaquin

    These production groups come to exploit the neighborhoods of the Boyle Heights community. They portray ficticious lifestyles in the community through their filming and make a good community look bad at their expense, which in turn, people around the world assume that is what only goes on here. Which is totally false as a member of the community we look down on bars at every other street corner and we look down on homosexuality. We are not ok with that and never will be so stop portraying that our community is full or has a lot of homosexuality and bars in it. We have a lot of children who become good people and save and build lives not some fictional side of ignorance.

    • David Gonz. alez

      I give u props for being honest. Also good luck in keeping the invaders out.


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