We are highlighting a previous episode of the ¿Quién Tú Eres? podcast, where we explore the conflict we often face between "professionalism" & being our authentic selves.
Denise Soler Cox, co-founder of Project Eñye, a multimedia production company whose purpose is to transform how we think about culture, identity, and what it means to belong.
Denise went from being a stay-at-home mom to an award-winning activist filmmaker, Top 100 podcaster, and Fortune 500 speaker. And she has been recognized by NBC as “A Voice For 1st-Gen Latinos”.
In this conversation, Denise shares how fears and insecurities held her back from telling her story and showing her authentic self and how she uses her experiences now to transform lives through storytelling.
These are some of the episode highlights:
“I had a different Denise to survive and win.” -Denise Soler Cox
Growing up, Denise went through different situations that would make her question her sense of belonging. And to survive, she had these different versions of her that she would let other people see according to the situation. She had a Denise at church, Denise at home, Denise with her family, Denise with her husband, Denise in the neighborhood, and so on.
It wasn't until Denise decided to start the film once and for all that she became more of her authentic self. All the interactions and conversations she was having invited her to open up and share more. And in this setting, she realized that she felt like her most authentic self when she spoke about topics related to Latinidad and overcoming obstacles with identity and culture of belonging.
“Knock off the shaming in our community.” -Denise Soler Cox
Our community is where we hope to feel the most supported and included. But even within our community, we struggle with feeling comfortable being 100% our authentic selves because, according to others, we are “not Latino enough". So instead of feeling encouraged to open up, we feel shame because we don't speak Spanish fluently, for example.
One experience Denise shares with us when she felt shamed by her community was when she first put out a thought-provoking video called Putting Your Family First Is The Worst Thing You Can Do. And while she received many comments from people who understood the message and resonated with it, there were also very mean people who were cruel with their comments. One of them even said that the film was the biggest insult to the Latino community. And even though this hurt her, she used that experience as an opportunity for healing.
“There are some norms in our community that need an upgrade.” -Denise Soler Cox
It is terrifying to speak up and share, but Denise does it anyway because she feels responsible for herself and her community.
That experience in which Denise received a negative comment that hurt her could have made her stop in her tracks and take the video down. But she didn't do it.
Through that experience and the following ones, Denise learned that it is best to stay focused on her mission and message. And she uses her content and its engagement to start conversations that challenge the norms that need an upgrade in our community.
Denise is here to challenge outdated cultural norms and inspire us to live as our authentic selves!
Have a story to share? Let us know here for an opportunity to be featured in the podcast!