The very first episode Bravo’s latest reality series Mexican Dynasties doesn’t waste any time when it comes to breaking stereotypes of the Mexican culture. Produced by Jaime Davila’s Campanario Entertainment, the show follows three affluent Mexican families in Mexico City (the Allendes, the Bessudos and the Madrazos) and right off the bat, the families make it known that the Mexicans are more than housekeepers, gardeners, busboys and other stereotypes Hollywood tends to cling on to. Doris Bessudo laughs, “Americans don’t know shit about Mexico!” — and she’s probably right.
On the exterior, Mexican Dynasties may seem like an ordinary, run-of-the-mill reality series where ladies-who-lunch drink rosé and complain about how they haven’t had sex with their husband in months, but it is definitely more than that — especially in a time when the sitting POTUS has had insulted the people of Mexico on more than one occasion. The new Bravo series is part of an arsenal of Davila’s Companario Entertainment that creates better content for Latinos, produced by Latinos that gives an authentic representation of the diverse storytelling within the Latinx community.
Mexican Dynasties is definitely on-brand for Bravo, but Davila adds nuance to the ordinary wealthy-people-doing-things reality show format. “Part of what we were trying to do with the show is really highlight three crazy families,” Davila tells Deadline. “And hopefully, when you meet these families, you see a different side of what you think Mexican culture is.”
A former development executive at Bravo, Davila developed various Latinx-focused series while at the network, but none of them moved forward so when Bravo came calling in 2017 to start on Mexican Dynasties, he was ecstatic for Companario to work with them. “A big part of Campanario and what we try to do, is show the diversity of the Latino experience — there’s Afro Latino, Asian Latino and others. We really try to develop across all spectrums, so it’s economic. And so, I think for us, this is just one avenue of that.”
For decades, Hollywood has tried to give an all-encompassing view of the Latinx culture, but as the landscape changes and audiences crave inclusive representation, the idea of a Pan-Latino television show or film is antiquated and ignorant. “At Campanario, we know the statistics about representation and how they’re lacking,” said Davila. He points out that Latinos account for only 5% of roles and even then, they are often roles of a gang banger, prostitute, housekeeper or another dated stereotype. Davila says that Mexican Dynasties is not supposed to represent all of Mexico — and it shouldn’t. Showing a different side of Mexico is his goal for everything he does.
Davila is adding to other voices shaping Hollywood’s view of the Latinx community. One Day at a Time‘s Gloria Calderon Kellett and Vida‘s Tanya Saracho have been diversifying Latinx storytelling with their respective shows and projects. Davila is doing the same, but he’s not siloed to the reality genre.
Colossus is a very different narrative than what we see in Mexican Dynasties. Directed by Jonathan Schienberg and produced by Davila, the documentary feature tells the heart-wrenching tale of a family’s struggle with immigration, deportation and family separation — a very timely topic. Davila admits that juggling something like Mexican Dynasties and Colossus is a task considering their external differences on, but it’s exactly what Davila both projects are in line with Campanario’s mission.
“Campanario has a huge opportunity — and I would dare I say, obligation — to really showcase and tell all these different types of stories,” said Davila. “So for all the fun that Mexicans would have and Mexican Dynasties showing a crazy rich Mexican lifestyle, there’s also another reality for other Latinos, that isn’t that way. I think it’s just as important for producers to constantly be seeking out material that shows the breadth and the variety of an experience.”
He adds, “No matter if it’s a serious or a comedy, you still come away learning something different about a culture that maybe you didn’t think you would know about.”
Last year, it was announced that Campanario would be working on two projects about the iconic pop star Selena. The first was a musical soap opera based on the explosion of Latin music inspired by the legacy of Selena Quintanilla while the other was a direct scripted series based on the musician’s life. ABC passed on the soap opera in December so that series is currently looking for a home while the other series landed at Netflix with a series order. Davila said that they are actively developing the series right now and are working with Selena’s sister, Suzette Quintanilla. He grew up in South Texas during the height of Selena’s fame and is really excited about telling the story — but he is remaining tight-lipped on what to expect.
“I don’t take this lightly…it’s a big deal and I’m excited to really do it justice,” he said. “It’s really taking the time to explore what it was like to be a Mexican American family in the ’80s and ’90s, trying to make it. It’s gonna be great family musical drama.”
Campanario has also added the one-hour dramedy Como Sobrevivir Soltero (How to Survive Being Single) to its slate of shows. The new Mexican Prime Original series from Campanario, Addiction House and Sony Pictures is a fictionalized take on the life of Mexican actor Sebastian Zurita and a group of his millennial friends who are all unlucky in love. After his fiance cheats on him, he hits rock bottom and is thrust back into the app-driven dating market along with his single friends. The series is set to start production in 2019 and will premiere on Amazon Prime Video.
With the high of Roma winning the Academy Award and making waves in the Latinx community, Davila’s Campanario along with creators like the aforementioned Kellett and Saracho is relevant now more than ever. Davila applauds that Netflix greenlit a movie centered on a domestic worker and is “buoyed” by the fact that people will see a wider range of Latinx characters. He sees progress with Latinx representation and with the success of Roma and appreciates how it has added to the conversation but on the flipside, he says that Hollywood often conflates Mexican achievement with U.S. Hispanic achievement.
“I do want to say that I am incredibly excited and happy about Roma, a Mexican film, but I still think that there’s a lot to do for the Academy on the film side to do and push U.S. Hispanic content from US Hispanic creators, that tells a richer story about Americans,” he said. “I think for me, I’m always super excited about Roma…I’m excited about Guillermo Del Toro. I’m excited about Alejandro González Iñárritu. Five out of the past six best picture winners have been Mexican. Only one white guy in the past six years, Damien [Chazelle), my old roommate.”
He continues, “I’m excited about where we are, but I also recognize like it doesn’t change the fact that we have to make a little bit more progress in terms of the wide range of the Latino experience. Yes, Roma exists, and we could celebrate it, but that doesn’t mean that we’ve solved representation or anything issued in terms of being Hispanic or adding to that cornucopia of what the Latino experience is. I hope Roma galvanizes and influences Hollywood to see that people do want to see Latino stories, not just in the U.S., but around the world.”