The Teresa Jusino Experience

Create Like An Activist

Tag: media representation

Create Like An Activist: TJXP’s New Mission Statement

Soundtrack: “Chief Don’t Run” by Jidenna

I got a new agenda that I gotta carry through
When your father’s enemies try to bury you…

The results of our recent Presidential election was a gut punch, and I spent all of last week recovering. You can read the last thing I had to say about the election HERE. However, the stuff that’s of particular note reads as follows:

But while I do plan on holding Trump, Pence, and the rest of their administration accountable for any decisions of theirs that hurt my communities and continuing to fight for the needs of my communities, I’m also not going to make them the focus of activism and work.


1) I will up my political activism game. Now is the time for me to keep tabs on my local politicians to make sure they’re doing what we need them to be doing, regularly reaching out to their offices not only when there’s something I wanna yell at them about, but also to write in praise of awesome things they’ve supported that are important to me.

I will keep up with these people, as well as midterm candidates, throughout the year so that, when elections roll around, I’ll be informed about what’s going on and who’s actually standing up for me in office.

2) Since certain issues may receive less attention from a Trump/Pence administration, I will put my time, energy, and resources into organizations that advocate for, provide awareness of, and provide services to the populations and issues that are important to me. In this case, my focus will likely be on (in no particular order):

    • Gender Equality
    • LGBTQIA Equality
    • the fight against racism and bigotry
    • Campaign Finance/Election Reform
    • L.A’s homeless population
    • the protection of Civil Liberties.

3) I will create like an activist. Now, more than ever, I am confident in the importance of stories. Not just any stories, but the stories I need and want to tell. Because a big contributor to people being so willing to throw people like me under the bus is the fact that they have no personal connection to people like me. I get that.

But I also understand that media plays that important role in people’s lives. I have a friend from the Upper Penninsula in Michigan who told me once that the first Latinx she ever “met” were Maria and Luis on Sesame Street. And she thought they were so cool. And having grown up in a majority-white, sparsely populated area of Michigan, she’s gone on to have traveled all over the world, move to New York, and be one of the most kind and welcoming people you could ever meet. Because the shows she watched, the books she read, and the films she saw gave her a glimpse of a wider world she’d never encountered in real life, and made her want more. That might never have happened had Sesame Street only been about a bunch of white people hanging out with some Muppets. 🙂

May the diverse characters I create, the diverse communities I depict, and the stories I tell be that glimpse of a wider world for someone else and inspire that person to action.

And may my work as a producer of those stories allow me to employ from marginalized communities and contribute directly to those communities from production through the release of the project, and beyond.


And so here I am, back to my blog after months of being away, because one of the few silver linings of this election for me is that it has lit a fire under my ass, and I’ve decided to use whatever platforms I have at my disposal to try and protect the progress already made with regard to the populations and causes I care about, as well as continue to fight for further progress.

To that end, the new tagline around here, and my new mantra is “Create Like An Activist.”

The weapons with which I am the most skilled are: my writing (fiction and non), the ability to translate ideas in a way that allows people to understand opposing views (or think about things in a new way), and my history of being a connector between people.

Media and pop culture are where I live, and where I hope to make my living for the rest of my life. It’s my area of the world, and fluffy and superficial as it may seem to some, it’s an area in which I can affect the way people think, feel, and take action. It’s an area in which I can inspire people and help them maintain the strength to keep going, and it’s a place where, eventually, I will have the power to provide opportunities for the most marginalized among us.

But I don’t believe I have to wait until I get to that place of power to start making changes with what I do. I can do it right now, through the characters I create, or the artists/projects I choose to cover in my pop culture writing. I can do it by speaking up when I see injustice being done in my industry (or elsewhere in my life). I can do it by being brave enough to turn down opportunities, or refuse to work for certain people – lucrative though an opportunity might be – if they don’t align with my ethics. I can do it by using my art as a way to help others (ie: screenings as fundraisers, donating leftover craft services to homeless organizations, organizing casts and crews for volunteer opportunities, etc).

And so I plan on using this blog as a hub for all of that work. There’ll continue to be fun stuff around here, too (and what’s more fun than helping others!), and I will continue to write about my journey through this bonkers life and career of mine, but there will definitely be a shift in focus and intention.

I will write about both the creative and the more activist work I’m doing, and I will also provide resources and ideas for work you can be doing. Especially if you’re interested in the same areas I mention above. None of us can do everything, but if we all do what we can in the areas we care about the most, we can change the world. And if you’re interested in causes like solving climate change, ending factory farming, or any other issues I haven’t mentioned, I hope that you can take any ideas that I bring up here, and apply them to whatever’s most important to you.

Sadly, I’m not confident that the government that’s currently been elected into office will operate in the best interests of all its citizens. So, in addition to resisting anything they do or pass that will negatively affect already marginalized and oppressed communities, I will be setting more of an intention both with and outside of the creative work I do to take on some of that work myself, helping others do the same.

It’s our country. It’s up to all of us to take care of it, and each other. I love you all. Yes, even you. 😉

Women in Film: RAZE

Film: Raze

Director: Josh Waller; Writer: Robert Beaucage

Chosen because: Female protagonist and a predominantly female cast in a stereotypically “male” genre; Produced by Zoe Bell, and two other female Executive Producers  – Rachel Nichols, and Allene Quincy

I really need more people to go and see the film Raze, which is now in several cities across the country, because I need to be able to talk to more people about what they think about the ending!

Raze opens with a young woman named Jamie (Rachel Nichols) talking with a guy in a bar. Next thing she knows, she’s unconscious and wakes up in a dark, underground room. As she tries to escape, she meets another young woman, Sabrina (played by awesome stuntwoman and actress, Zoe Bell), and they walk together under the pretense that they’re looking for a way out.  But Sabrina leads Jamie into an enclosed, circular, stone-walled room with a steel door that shuts behind them and starts kicking the crap out of her for no reason. When Jamie asks her why, Sabrina says “Because we have to.”

Sabrina isn’t the only woman there. There are about fifty or so chosen (rather, kidnapped) by this crazy and ancient cult that does this every year because something-something-Greek mythology-something-something-women are powerful-something-something.  The women have to fight each other, tournament-style, to the death. The “winner” gets to leave and is crowned Princess of I Fucked All These Bitches Up, or somesuch. In order to force them into fighting rather than just escaping, killing themselves or letting themselves be killed, each woman has a loved one that the cult is targeting and has surveillance on. So, if the woman refuses to fight, she risks someone killing her child, or her husband, or her parent…

I enjoyed this movie muchly, because:

1) It was an amazing metaphor for what women face on a day-to-day basis. Not that we’re pitted against each other in brutal fights to the death – but we are pitted against each other in other ways. Especially if we’re powerful. Because God forbid there be more than one powerful woman at the top, amirite? It was also a great metaphor for how women are taught to do things, or sacrifice themselves, or put themselves through hell for other people. These women were encouraged to fight “for your daughter,” or “for your mother,” or “for your fiance.” But Tracie Thoms’ character has an amazing line where she basically says, “Any of those people you care about can be taken away from you anyway. You have to fight for yourself.” You have to deem yourself worth saving, because at the end of the day any other reason for staying alive doesn’t matter – you should be doing it because you want to survive and thrive.

2) There was a diverse cast of women. I don’t just mean racially, though they were that (shout-out to Tracie Thoms and Rosario Dawson, who is also in this film). I mean as far as personality types. There were women who were scared, there were women who were brave, and there were women who were driven insane by the experience. And there was one woman who loved violence and couldn’t wait to get her hands on anyone and everyone. It wasn’t just a parade of “kick-ass women.” They were real, average women under crazy, heightened circumstances. Some, like Zoe Bell’s character, had military training. Others had kickboxing experience, or gymnastics experience. They were all chosen because they were a certain level of physically fit/trained so that the fights would be interesting…but they weren’t Superwomen, and that’s what made this film so frightening, and what many of these women had to do all the more amazing. To top it all off, one of the leaders of the crazy cult is a woman, played by Sherilyn Fenn, and she sees what she’s doing as beneficial to women – well, to the one woman who survives. Sabrina asks her at one point, “How can you do this to other women?”

Her answer is not fucking cool.

3) There was also some crazy-amazing fight scenes, and if you’re a fan of stylized, violent fare, like I am, you will LOVE this. At first, the fights were too brutal to watch. But by the middle of the movie, I was actively, viscerally rooting for certain characters to kick other characters’ asses. So, not only is this a movie about women and their place in the world, but it’s about violence and how we, the viewers, respond to it. Even if violence isn’t your thing, you have to admire the phenomenal fight choreography. It takes a lot of work to make a fake fight look so intensely brutal.

Anyway, all this doesn’t mean the movie was perfect. Some of the shots, particularly when related to Sabrina and her daughter, were really heavy-handed and schmaltzy. And then there was that ending; that ending that I personally didn’t like, but that I know could be great conversation fodder – I’m still not sure if “being conversation fodder” is good enough for an ending, which is part of the reason why I want to hear what others think about it!

In any case, go see Raze if it’s playing in a city near you. And then find me so we can talk about it. 🙂

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