ALISON SOTOMAYOR, Producer/Research Director/Writer
I have long believed there is a desperate need for more credible, thoughtful reporting and storytelling in television, especially at a time when the viewing public is barraged by a tsunami of reality TV. Serious journalism has been increasingly an afterthought as money ultimately determines the face of what we see on the small screen. I believe this is a threat to American democracy and the public’s interest. Yet, it is a reminder that our independence and diversity of perspectives are needed now more than ever.
With this in mind, I have remained committed to the idea that public news matters, particularly to the underserved and diverse communities I aim to reach. I have an obligation, as a minority producer and writer, to bring forth tough, complex stories to inform citizens and voters, and to do so responsibly and courageously.
Born and raised in East Los Angeles, I moved to Norwalk at the age of nine. My career in Communications began in high school when I became Editor-in-Chief of the school’s newspaper. Two internships immediately followed at KCAL-TV and KCBS-TV respectively. Later, the California Chicano News Association, KCOP-TV and KCET-TV recruited me simultaneously as an administrative assistant, production/desk assistant, and administrative secretary. Excelling in all three positions, an on-air job followed as Public Affairs Co-Host and Co-Producer for three years on the public television series, TRENDSETTERS.
My sincere love for this great city, its diversity and uniqueness, has translated into much of the work that I have achieved thereafter. I was approached to work at KCET-TV in Los Angeles - California’s flagship PBS television station. There, I became full-time Producer of the critically acclaimed, statewide news and public affairs series, LIFE & TIMES.
During my ten-year tenure at LIFE & TIMES, I produced segments on local history, arts and culture, education, politics, religion, health, the environment, community profiles, and investigative reports. For my work, I was honored with two Emmy awards for Best Informational/Public Affairs Series and four Golden Mikes for Best Hard News Serious Reporting, Best Light News Reporting, Best News Reporting and Best Sports Feature Reporting.
At LIFE & TIMES, I also had the wonderful experience of producing short documentaries and in-depth interviews of many local and national intellectual thinkers and respected celebrities including: Andrew Young, Walter Cronkite, Anita L. DeFrantz, John Wooden, Charlton Heston, John Glenn, Kevin Starr, Martin Landau, George Lopez, and Ed Asner.
On a local level, I have interviewed countless public elected and city officials, authors, historians, community activists, artists, and young people making a difference in our city’s cultural, political and social landscapes. Some of the critically-acclaimed LIFE & TIMES stories I am especially proud of include: Five Years After L.A.’s 1992 Riots: A Town Hall Meeting; Revolving Door: California’s Mentally Ill; The Story of the L.A. City Fire Department Desegregation; Heroes in the Hood: Father Gregory Boyle; Coach John Wooden: The Legend, The Legacy, The Wisdom; A Portrait of Environmental Justice in Los Angeles; Dying for a Home: Crisis in L.A.’s Animal Shelters; A New Vision for the IOC: Anita L. DeFrantz; The Museum of Tolerance: Confessions of a Skinhead; A Profile of Neo-Mannerist Artist Ernie Barnes; LA County Goodwill Ambassador for Peace: The Human Face Behind Hostile Borders, Sir Edward Artis; Frank Talk: African American and Latino Relations; Different Strokes: Guerilla Artist Robbie Conal; and Women Air Force Service Pilots WW II.
On a national level, I have assisted in producing the critically acclaimed PBS documentary, THE NEW LOS ANGELES, and am currently co-producing the first ever documentary and multi-media project on one of the nation’s most seminal African American leaders of the 20th century, former Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley.
I work to develop and produce social-issue shorts and documentaries aimed at altering the political agenda and the popular understanding of issues and of people of color. Some of my most recent works focus on the Hispanic American experience, which include: Sal Castro & the 1968 East Los Angeles Walkouts; Spanish Language DJ’s and Immigrant Justice; Out of the Picture: Minorities in Network Television; A Lifetime Tribute to Edward James Olmos; Culture Clash: A 24 Year Theatrical Retrospective and its Impact on America; A History of Progressive Community Leadership: Senator Gil Cedillo; The Girl: Teenage Boxer Seniesa Estrada; An Hispanic Institution Struggles to Stay Alive: Libreria Martinez; Latino Film in American Popular Culture; and Vikki Carr: A Biography.
Beyond television, I continue to work in the fields of advocacy and civil rights. Since 2001, I have worked as the Film Producer for the National Hispanic Media Coalition. In this role, I have produced films aimed at inclusion of all minorities in the media, have advocated and pushed to improve the image of Hispanic Americans portrayed in TV and film, and have fought to increase the number of minorities employed behind and in front of camera in primetime network television.
In 2007, I represented the state of California to participate in the inaugural News Academy in Washington DC at WETA Public Television. I wrote an extensive article for LATINO PUBLIC BROADCASTING detailing my experiences at the Academy and its lasting impact on its participants.
I graduated from UCLA with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology. I am a member of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, the National Association of Latino Independent Producers, Latino Public Broadcasting, the International Documentary Association, the California Chicano News Media Association, and the National Association of Latino Arts and Culture.