Moving NYC Forward

September: Hispanic/Latin American Arts and Culture

This September, in honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month, ABNY is highlighting YPs who have contributed to Latin American and Hispanic arts and culture in New York.

Congratulations to our September Spotlights, Mino Lora, People’s Theatre Project, and Nedelka Sotelo, The Wasi Arts!

Mino Lora

Founding Executive Director
People’s Theatre Project
How did you get to where you are today?

Fully embracing my identity as an immigrant and Latina/Dominican woman pushed me to create a space where others like me, who are too often marginalized, can be centered. Being an educator, artist, and activist led me to co-found People’s Theatre Project 13 years ago, an arts and social justice nonprofit rooted in upper Manhattan that works with the immigrant community to strengthen the movement for social justice.

What are you most proud of?

People’s Theatre Project! Bringing to life this dream and seeing it become the largest arts and culture organization north of Harlem, bringing together a diverse and passionate staff and board who is committed to anti-racism and the work for justice and equity through the arts is a joy and something I am grateful for every day. Thanks to our amazing team we are able to work with 1000 young people a year doing free programming specifically for our immigrant, Black, and Latino youth of color.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to work in your field?

Be flexible. Be open to change and adapt. When doing work with a mission, stay grounded on your mission and let that dictate programming, not the other way around.

When did you realize that you are a New Yorker?

I emigrated to NY from Dominican Republic when I was 19, and ten years ago when I was doing my annual trip back to DR to visit family, I realized that although I loved being in the home I grew up, I sorely missed my egg and cheese in the morning, walking and talking public transport, brunch with friends and, mostly, the pace and energy of the city I love where I am raising my kids. I’ve lived in NYC longer than I was in DR and I am without a doubt, a New Yorker through and through.

Nedelka Sotelo

Independent Artist, Performer, Teaching Artist, Program Coordinator, Co-Founder
The Wasi Arts
How did you get to where you are today?

Being an independent artist in NYC can be the most uplifting job because of its extensive opportunities and the wide range of freedom that we have to expand our experience and knowledge, but it can also be very challenging as it gets super competitive with all the amazing talent that is out there. Definitely developing connections, being open to explore, daring to go far and beyond my limits, and never giving up on my dreams is what has me up and running in this city.

What are you most proud of?

My personality. I think (and have also been told) that the way I am gets me to places I could never imagine. I consider myself as an entrepreneur Latin woman that always takes the opportunities as they come. I love learning as it becomes an exchange when I teach. Being able to empathize with my audience, meaning spectators in a performance, listeners in a music concert, partners in community events, and students when I teach, especially children, is the most valuable skill I can bring to them. I am aware of creating an impact to them and I always want to show and give them the best of me.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to work in your field?

Be persistent, constant, and disciplined. Everything you want will come at the right time but it’s also working hard to get it and finding ways to keep yourself close to your dreams. Always put a smile on your face, be thankful, and take as many opportunities as given.

When did you realize that you are a New Yorker?

A year after graduating from The American Musical and Dramatic Academy of New York, I decided to move back to my hometown of Mexico City. I suffered a lot because I didn’t want to leave NYC, but I always repeated to myself: “New York will always be here, and if it is for me, this beauty will bring me back.” In 2017, it happened. I had the opportunity to come back and start from where I left off but stronger, more mature, and with much more experience to really focus and pursue my dreams. I was right, New York brought me back and took me in as a real New Yorker.

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