Exploring the Root Cause of Social Inequity (With Nielsen's Stacie de Armas)

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This is a podcast episode titled, Exploring the Root Cause of Social Inequity (With Nielsen's Stacie de Armas). The summary for this episode is: <p>Stacie de Armas knows what it feels like to be the other. </p><p><br></p><p>Growing up a Cubana in California, Stacie embraced her Latinx community wherever she could find it, and she quickly noticed the inequalities between them and her white counterparts. Now working in media research at Nielsen, Stacie feels responsible to represent her community and raise awareness of social inequity, which is what she and Elias talk about in this episode.</p><p><br></p><p>Be sure to hit the subscribe button to get new episodes when they drop every other Tuesday.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>In the meantime, be sure to leave a ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ review and share the pod with your friends. You can connect with Elias and Stacie on Twitter at&nbsp; @eliast, @StaciedeArmas, and @DriftPodcasts.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>For more learnings from Elias, check out his quarterly newsletter, The American Dream. You can subscribe at https://www.drift.com/insider/learn/newsletters/american-dream/</p>
Stacie's childhood
05:02 MIN
Being the "other" in the workplace
02:11 MIN
Stacie and Nielsen's research of underrepresented groups in media
04:58 MIN

Elias: Bienevidos. Today I have with me, Stacie de Armas, the senior vice president of diverse consumer intelligence and initiatives at Nielsen. Stacie grew up in California with her Cuban family. She's a Cubana. She's never imagined she'd be in the role that she's at today. So we're going to talk about what her journey looked like and why she does what she does. Right. I think I've just been impressed just talking to her about the role that she could be playing for us and how powerful the representation that we have from her in this industry. It is for us Latinos and underrepresented people. So I'm very delighted to have you here, Stacie. Welcome. Buenos dias.

Stacie de Armas: Hola. Gracias. It's so good to be here. Thank you so much for the invitation.

Elias: So early, right?

Stacie de Armas: I'm in Los Angeles so it's early, but it's my pleasure to be here. I'm excited.

Elias: Perfect. Awesome. So, there's so much amazing stuff that we already started talking about. And I think we want to go on that, but let us learn a little bit more about yourself. I always love to hear the journey of everyone's American dream, right? And tell me bit about your background in your childhood getting to a little bit to this point.

Stacie de Armas: Sure. Well, I grew up in Los Angeles. My dad grew up in Havana as did almost all of my family. And like many, my dad came to the United States as a teen in the'60s and made his way. And I think it's really interesting. Of course, they started out in Miami and back then there wasn't really a English second language program. So my dad struggled a little bit with school and then they moved to Los Angeles where... It's actually a bit of an interesting story. My grandfather heard that there was work in Hollywood at the studios. And so he thought, well, let's go there. That sounds exciting. An exciting American dream. So he picked up his family from Miami where Spanish was perfectly imperfect. And they drove out here much like he would see in a movie, in a station wagon with boxes hanging out the side. The things that they had acquired, because of course, when they came to the United States, they had nothing. They lived in, for a little bit my grandmother tells me, in a church like basement area and they use the washroom in the church until they were placed with a family who helped them get on their feet and get jobs and things in Miami. And then of course came out to Los Angeles, my grandfather did quickly get a job at the studios. And so my dad was thrust into the American school system, not knowing English very well. Really just from having picked up from television and the movies, again, coming in into the picture. And so he struggled in school, not because he's not a wise man. He's the smartest man I've ever met, but because of the language barrier. I think, and the challenge for him. And so growing up in Southern California, he met mom and I came along shortly after and grew up with this really beautiful, big Cuban family. And it's interesting because as I think about it now, it wasn't until I was probably in maybe second or third grade that I realized that my experience was different from the other Latinos I was around. In Los Angeles it's a very dominated Mexican culture. It's beautiful culture. But I did feel very much alone. My experience, my lived experience, was different than the community that I was living within, which brings us, I think, to the beautiful intersectionality of our community. Fast forward, I always had a passion in my heart, Elias, for Latino communities and Hispanics in general. I mean, even just from elementary school on the places I've really leaned in and in the early jobs that I had in college and even in high school, I was always drawn to represent our community in some way. And I know that sounds maybe over the top or how could that be true. But I think back to when I was a bank teller in Pomona, California, which is a largely Latino area too. I was a bank teller in college. Really quickly I ended up managing our Spanish language loan desk. And this is, I'm telling you, I was like 20. I was 20 years old. But I spoke the language well, I could work with our clients. And I ended up also handling just all new accounts and issues. And I quickly saw it's really simple things. It's going to sound silly to say it now. Right now, it's basic. But this was back in the'90s. Things like," You don't need a checking account for eight dollars and 95 cents a month. Here's what we're going to do. You're going to get a savings account. All you need to do is just don't cash more than six checks a month. You can do all of these things and it's not going to cost you anything as long as you do this. Okay, you don't have direct deposit. Here's what we can do. You don't need a driver's license to do this. Whoever told you that, that's not true." I realize now, as I look back, I was trying to help the community understand the American financial system in a way that wouldn't be detrimental. And I have to tell you exactly, like you can imagine in a movie, I had families of families of families coming in, looking for me at 20, to open a checking account, understand the statement, just because they're like,"[foreign language 00: 05:56]. You can trust her." It was such an honor. And I would have people coming in waiting for me. And wanting to know when I worked so they could send in their brother or their sister. And I was so proud being able to resource these people in this, I shouldn't say, resource my community in a way that was beneficial for them, help them understand the American financial system. Language wasn't a barrier like," Let's do this. Let's not do that." And I just loved it. It was wonderful. And I've carried that little passion with me throughout my career.

Elias: You almost have me in tears here. You have no idea.

Stacie de Armas: Now you're going to have me in tears.

Elias: No, this is what just people don't understand about us. Right? You know what I mean? And the thing is, oh my god, just so many things you just said. It just hit me up. But the last part you crushed me. Because I worked at Bank of America as a teller.

Stacie de Armas: Me too.

Elias: It was Bank of America?

Stacie de Armas: Yeah. It was Bank of America, Pomona. I loved it. And they let me go whatever I wanted to do. I wanted to build an educational series. And I mean, now that's fancy words for, let's on a Saturday, we'll have coffee and donuts and we'll bring in people from the community that are under resourced and under banked. And I'm just going to tell them like, I'm going to say this in air quotes," how to get around the bank charges." crosstalk.

Elias: Absolutely. Absolutely.

Stacie de Armas: And at that point credit was difficult, but you could still get a secured account and you didn't have to put in 500. You could actually do it for just 150. And I will be here to make sure your money comes back to you. I am not leaving. We did it. And I did on my own.

Elias: I'm similar, but not. You're badass. You're completely La Jefa, the grassroots activist. I did it on a much smaller scale, they would always grab me. And like," Elias, come here, come here. We need you." I was in Tampa, Florida. Like," Come here, talk to this person." And I've done that, but there's this thing that we have that is so precious. That is really this desire that is just built in into us. Especially the closer you are to the immigrants, right? This is our people. White people that grew up here, that they are established that they're securing their identity in their communities. Their family supports them. They don't have anything to worry. Don't have the same feeling that we know. We all have nothing. And so we all start and we have this built in into like, we got to go help that lady. We got to go help that man. We got to help this family. I remember my mother sending me first time on a plane to United States. And she asked this lady," Can you please take care of my son? He's flying by himself." And in the end, the lady needed so much more help that I'm here, 11 years old, helping her. And-

Stacie de Armas: Oh God. Meanwhile, if someone asked me that, I'd be like," Oh my god. Yes. Your child, it's going to be the best flight of their life. They're going to learn something. We're going to have snacks."

Elias: But we have this thing, right? What you said brings out, you think it's a silly story, but today it's still as prevalent as it was. I feel like people don't have bank accounts. Why don't we don't progress? Because we are spending so much money in cash. We're getting too many fees. We don't have the right understandings. The banks are designed to not allow those people to progress and buying places where a check is taken. Instead, you only go to places where cash is taken. I mean, there's so many issues with financial education that our communities don't have because of fear of getting deported, fear or pressure of discrimination, lack of information. So that thing that you were doing for people is the way that we think about it. That scrappiness of like, how do we avoid, how do we help overcome those things that to others is not a big deal.

Stacie de Armas: And to be honest, I didn't know I was being an activist or trying to do well. I just I loved the way it made me feel. I like that I was popular. They would come in, they wanted see me. I loved my people and it just felt good. That's why I did it. But the point that I think you're making too, that I really is not lost on me, is that it's not that our communities need help. We just need the resources. The information was there. It just wasn't presented in a way that the community could receive it. It was there, it was all in papers, but it was in fine prints. It was in English. It was difficult to deconstruct, especially when you compare it to the financial systems in Mexico or in Latin America. They're different financial systems. And they just needed to be not a translation of words, but of works. And I just could do that. And I wasn't some special banker. Again, I was 20, 21, 22. I just was able to read it, ask the questions and then make it work. And so that's kind of where my passion for representing our community started. And I've cascaded that in my career in media and entertainment and in advertising. And that's where I sit today. I sit in a world where I advocate for inclusion in media and entertainment and identity research around our community, the Latino community, the intersection of our community. foreign language, which I'm sure we'll talk about. And also other communities. I advocate and build programs and intelligence for native American, Asian, Black communities, disability communities.

Elias: No, this is wonderful. I think that these are for me to store, I think we're hitting on two important things that sometimes I think we talk about it and I feel like all we do is complain about social injustice or social inequity. But I think we get into the root of two important aspects of it. One, the real cause of inequity is the lack of information. Right? It's all about information. It's not about our color. It's not about our brains, our intelligence, our abilities, none of that stuff. It's our morals, whatever it is, our politics, none of that. It's about the access to information. And that is really what divides and separates people and creates inequalities. And I think the role that you're playing is such an important one because of the ability that it has to scale. We have to focus on things that have the major leverage. And the other point I think that we need to talk more about is that special sauce that we have, which is how is it possible that I'm from Nicaragua. And I come and I live all my life in Nicaragua. And by the way, I have a story where I immigrated to LA. I lived in South Gate, California for two years when I was 11. I went to South Gate Junior High and South Gate High in a predominant Mexican community. But I grew up in Nicaragua. All I ever known is Nicaragua and Nicaraguan people. It is so very homogeneous in a way. And how is it that I go to LA, how is it that I come to Tampa? And all of a sudden, now I become a member of the Latino community. And I desire to love and to care for our people. I still to this day. Unfortunately, I don't know if this is about or not, but the staff or wherever I go, we immediately connect. They know me. I'm part of a private social club. Is the most elitist thing that is in Boston. I was invited from a diversity perspective, but the staff is my friend. I enjoy more hanging with the staff-

Stacie de Armas: The first stop. First stop. Same for me. I didn't even tell you about my waitressing jobs. But same. I mean, the community, the back of the house community, those are my people.

Elias: But we are the ones, like I say to people, when I'm talking, I used to clean the offices in Tampa, Florida of the dentist office, American Life Insurance. I would go with my mother, empty the trash cans, vacuum the rugs, clean the toilets. So I'm the American dream. And that's what we're sharing here of. I was there. When I see a father or mother with a child cleaning an office, my job is to go inspire them and say," look what's possible. You can be an entrepreneur. You can be financially wealthy. You could be financially free for the rest of your life. Not just getting a better job, not just getting an education." But I want to show them everything that is possible. And by bringing people like you here and show that we have so many options. And so that's what this is about. It's possible. This country is unbelievable. Right? I firmly believe in the American dream and that is alive today. So please tell me more about you and your journey. So, tell me more at Nielsen.

Stacie de Armas: crosstalk the chills. Oh, I'll tell you about Nielsen, but I want to just address that. You just gave me the chills to hear you talk about that. I just had a conversation the other day. A business conversation and people were talking about different experiences, having done things. And if I had done that experience growing up. I hesitated for a minute, and then I thought I'm going to say it. And I said, on this call with very, very important people. I said," I didn't do that growing up, but what I can do is re- tile your bathroom in a weekend, and I'm very good at it. And if you have any sprinkler issues, I'm your girl. I can take care of all of that." And I started thinking about in experiences I had growing up and how much they shaped the tenacity and the dedication that I have to work through difficult things today. And I say," My brother and I always say it's from my dad. Nothing's really too hard. You just don't know how to do it yet, but there's nothing. I mean, nothing. You want to mud a wall this weekend? Let's go." But there's nothing that's too hard. And I really think that that's from growing up in an immigrant family, that's sort of scrappy, you get through those things.

Elias: You just hit upon this, like recently, I've been developing this life mantra and help me make it better. But what I'm realizing that life is about, is about becoming stronger. It's like, I just think that what experience gives us, as we grow in life, we become stronger. And it doesn't have to be stronger, strength in like a super powerful way, but it's for us to be able to handle life. Whatever life is for us as individuals. And I think the intent should be for us to be stronger. To be able to handle the next one that's going to come. Because life is hard. And I see a lot of people that are earlier in their careers, they struggle with anxiety and they struggle with stress about all kinds of issues, what they're going to become, or how hard this job, like startups are hard. And that is the key of diversity and immigrants, right? My life was so hard at that time. That to most people is really hard. I didn't think it was hard because I came from even a worse situation. So to me, being able to clean offices and make some money to buy a car, that would've been an impossibility. Think about Cuba, right? Who can buy a car in Cuba?

Stacie de Armas: Oh my goodness.

Elias: Every car is 50 years old. Or-

Stacie de Armas: And$30, 000. We were just there visiting my uncle and just to really unpack the circumstances there. And I'm glad that at it's getting some attention now in the United States. I don't like that it's being sort of politicized, but you're exactly right. It's incredibly difficult in many of our home countries and to think about why all of these things that influence immigrants to make their way here and to take this shot. I have to be perfectly honest. My life, I don't know that I would call it hard growing up. It certainly wasn't. But my dad, just what he had lived through, what he carried into us, the values he instilled in us were all as a result of coming here and figuring it out and working at a hospital when he was, I don't know, 15 or 16. And cleaning up at night while he was in high school. A night shift, bed pan route. So, I mean, all of that influenced me and the work that I bring forward into Nielsen. And Nielsen has been... Today's actually my anniversary at Nielsen. I've spent a very long part of my life at Nielsen and I am grateful for every minute. Nielsen has allowed me to research topics I think are important to our community, to share insights around our community, to elevate the value of our community to brands, to marketers, to entertain... And they have given me really the license to do what I think needs doing for our community and use our resources to do that. And it's been an absolute privilege.

Elias: No, it is wonderful. I do think it is such an underappreciated, undervalue, underutilized ability that we have. That we have been role model by our parents and by ourselves and by this first generation immigrants of like what's hard and what are we willing to do. For survival, for basic life necessities.

Stacie de Armas: I think about it with my son. He's getting ready to go to college and he also has a job of course, because that's what we do. He doesn't need to have a job necessarily now, but I'm like," You're 16. It's go time. I had a job. I had my first job when I was 14 years old." I'm like," That's what we do around here. We work." And so as I think about watching him getting ready for college and trying to balance his work schedule, his things have opened back up. So he has band and he has different things he wants to do at school. And I've told him," You got to work." Because that work ethic, that value is born. It's carried over from our parents to us and it's born in that responsibility. And so I want him to build that responsibility, but also to give back to our communities. And this boy, I'm so proud of him. He's written this beautiful essay about the privilege of coming from an immigrant family.

Elias: I know, I'm in the same boat. So my oldest is 18. She just started college, Northeastern.

Stacie de Armas: Wow.

Elias: And she's worked two summers. She worked at a deli and she doesn't need to work. And I'm trying to figure out how do I pass down... They're spoiled compared to me. Completely. But there's this DNA and there's something that I'm able to pass to her. That she's like, she walked into a deli in 4th of July last summer. Not this summer, but the summer before. And she says," Do you guys need any help?" And the owner says," Yes, come by tomorrow 9: 00 AM." And so guess where they put her? They put her to to do the dishes. She drives in a Tesla to work.

Stacie de Armas: Oh gosh.

Elias: She drives in a Tesla and they put her to do the dishes and she comes home-

Stacie de Armas: And you said," You're going to learn so much back there. That's where you start."

Elias: But they don't notice. And they ask her," Okay, you're going to get paid$ 10 an hour. 11, if you show me your passport." And she's like," Dad, what does that mean? It's like, if you're illegal, you get paid less." I go," If you're legal, you get paid the real wage." Or something like that. And so she was like," Wow." So she got to learn so much. They saw her skin color, they saw what she looked like. And they assumed that she's an illegal alien. You go to the back, you do the dishes. And she would've came back with her hands completely shredded and all wrinkly. And she would be so tired. She would come straight to sleep. And she's such a strong woman. And she did that. She worked her way up. She did the sandwiches. She would get yelled at for not doing them right. They would add any Spanish music on the radio. They'd be like," Oh, we now have somebody." She felt all the discrimination.

Stacie de Armas: Oh my goodness.

Elias: She's tough though. I'd go," Feel it. Feel it." So you know your people and what's happening. And then this past summer, she worked at a coffee shop and she saved all her money. And she's worked until the last day. And they had to work in five, six days a week. 7: 00 AM when they wake up. And I just like so delighted. To me work-

Stacie de Armas: It's the values.

Elias: It's a privilege.

Stacie de Armas: It's the values.

Elias: I couldn't work. There are no jobs in Nicaragua. And so adults are scrambling for jobs. If I was a kid, what was my jobs? I had no jobs. I would have to literally like sell fruit at a stop light. There's no jobs for us. And so coming here and having the ability to work and get paid hourly wages, I was blown away of that.

Stacie de Armas: And that's a narrative change I love. And I'm going to use that. It's like, you don't have to work. You get to work. You have the privilege of working.

Elias: Yeah. We have a place that they're looking for us to work, that they're going to pay us for it. You know what I mean? All that stuff to me, that's the difference in how we approach a job at IBM, at a startup, at an investment firm. People are like," Oh, I hate my job." People complain at all levels. All they do is complain about jobs. I don't complain about jobs. I love every job I've ever had. Every job has been better. Everybody's been different. I cleaned offices. I worked at a bank. I worked at IBM. I worked in startups. Every job I had, I can do the range. And so having range is something that is very fundamental that we can share from our communities and to our children.

Stacie de Armas: Absolutely.

Elias: And so tell me more about information, misinformation. What are the topics that you are seeing lately? I want to hear about that. And I also want to hear also, I think that the role you're making in media, is that you play is so important. Because I'm a big believer in role models, right? The reason why I'm doing this podcast, it's my duty, it's my responsibility. Just like you helped that lady get the bank account. And you say to them," Do this and you save on fees." I'm here telling these stories to people and say like," Look, you can become a multi- millionaire in this country. You can invest in startups, start investing in stocks." We need to give access to people. I want to share all the tricks and tips that I've learned. So people can be wealthy. They could be mentally satisfied. They have the jobs that they need. They have the freedoms that they can take care of their families for generations to come. Because not enough people like us are saying this. So tell me what you are seeing in media that we need focus. We need more role models.

Stacie de Armas: We do. And so every year at Nielsen, as I was saying earlier, Nielsen has really given me a license to report on what I think needs reporting on to write on what I think is important to our community. So we just released our 2021 annual report. That's called inclusion information and intersection. And it really is an overview of the truth about how to connect with US Latinos today. One of the main topics that we address in here is representation on screen and in media and Hollywood. And the reason we decided to dive into this is... Well, so let me back up one step. I think when people think of Nielsen, they often think of TV ratings, right? They think of Super Bowl ratings and TV ratings. And maybe what they don't know is that we do social and economic research and increasingly research around identities. So how people are presented in content, whether or not we show up in content and the frequency with which people do. So it's not just about audiences, which is a core pillar. We look at audiences, who's watching what. But we also want to understand things about what people are watching. So metrics about content, representation, thematic attributes, stuff like that. Because we think it's in the intersection of what is on screen and who is watching it that we can better understand content development. We can better understand some sociology elements, like identity formation and otherwise. So in our new work, we go down a couple of rabbit holes. All of them are really fun ones. But when it comes to representation and content, we know that overall Latinos are underrepresented on screen. Period. Our representation, we are 19% of the population. We're only visible about 10% of the time across broadcast television and streaming-

Elias: 10%? That's a lot, no?

Stacie de Armas: Well, our population is 20% almost. We're at 19. So if we're only there 10%, that seems high, but wait for it, it actually isn't that rosy. Because when you remove Spanish language television, in English language TV alone, so that's across broadcast cable and streaming, the representation is only about 6%.

Elias: Exactly. That's what I thought.

Stacie de Armas: So if you think about that, when your daughter and my daughter are watching television, Latinos are only present if they're watching in English 6% of the time. And of that 6%, was sort of themed. Where are we present? Do we have equal representation in news and in comedy or are we mostly present in reality and crime? I mean, so it's not just about the representation.

Elias: But where,

Stacie de Armas: It's the quality, where are we shown? Are we in TV's most watch genres? Are we in TV's most popular shows? What are the roles we're playing? So if you'll allow me, I'll give you a really quick example. We took a look in our report, specifically when Latinas have high representation on screen. So we said, let's see all the shows where Latinas are well represented. Not just at 6%, but a big chunk of the cast. And then let's also take a look at where Latinas are a big part of the audience watching those shows. So essentially Latinas watching Latinas, that's what we want to see. So then we said, what are the genres and what are the thematic attributes of those shows? And it was startling. I mean, I was almost at a loss for words. When women, when Latinas are watching Latinas on screen with good representation, they see themes like dysfunction, family drama, police stations. Just these themes that are concerning at best, because you're thinking these are how women, young Latinas, are seeing themselves in content. And we think, well, maybe it was the storyline of the show. Maybe that was what was required for that. But what is more important is how our kids, how our community is forming its identity here in the US. And as we've seen increasingly over the past few years, how others outside of our community see us. By the way, when White women in the audience watched White women on screen, you can imagine what they saw. It was family homes, sons and daughters, picnics. I mean, it was an unbelievable difference between Latinas seeing Latinas on screen and White women seeing White women on screen. And that's when we knew at Nielsen that we could do more. We're doing a lot of things, one thing we're doing now is producing metrics and benchmarks about representation. Because we know we can't hold the industry accountable unless the industry can see what those numbers are and advance change.

Elias: That's unbelievable. Unbelievable. It something that I just started to realize recently. It's amazing. I didn't really pay attention to me. Think about it. Growing up, the few movies that came to Nicaragua were in Betamax. And they were smuggled and there was only a few households in the whole neighborhood that would have it. And I would watch, I remember Rambo and Commando. Those are two movies I remember.

Stacie de Armas: Oh my gosh. Me too. We must be exactly the same age because those were like my fave, fave, fave. I loved both of those movies. You probably also saw. Did you also see Remo Williams too?

Elias: No.

Stacie de Armas: It was like a weird obscure one that was right around the same time as Rambo and all that. Anyway.

Elias: I had limited access. Because you were in LA. I was in Nicaragua.

Stacie de Armas: Well, I was in LA, but we didn't have crosstalk

Elias: But you crosstalk. Think about-

Stacie de Armas: My dad works at the studio actually at the time. So he would sometimes bring home movies. But my dad was a blue collar worker. My grandfather got him this job. And he was a blue collar worker at the studio doing projection engineer. So he's-

Elias: It's amazing though what he did in the influence. My dad in LA, he would get stolen goods. He had a little business in a strip mall right there in Huntington Park. And people would come and sell him a stolen stereo, a stolen computer. My dad bought that computer and put it in the garage. He says," I don't know what that is, but you go play with it." And that was the beginning of my journey with computers. It started me-

Stacie de Armas: That's incredible.

Elias: Just like you had those movies and you found that. And so it's like, who am I to judge? And I don't really care. I became a successful computer tech entrepreneur. And it started from that stolen computer in the garage in South Gate, California.

Stacie de Armas: You know what it makes me think about? I think about the first time I felt represented on screen. The first time I felt like I saw myself in content. I have to be completely honest with you. Every time I say this, people are like," Well, that's not really seeing you." But I'm like," That's as close as I could get." It was watching CHiPs way back. Because Ponch looked like my dad, looked like my family. He was the brownest on TV at that time. And I remember watching that thinking... And my brother and I would watch CHiPs and we would fight over who could be Ponch. And I don't know why. I mean, maybe he was a little cooler than John. I don't know. But it's like, I remember seeing him and thinking," This guy looks like me and us." And it's crazy to identify with Eric Estrada, a male actor. But that was as close as it was. I'm proud to say representation is better on screen now. But like I said, if you can't measure it, you can't hold the industry accountable. The good news is the industry want, now that the data's there, the industry is moving toward equity and representation. And we're seeing that. This year some of the biggest theatrical releases of the year, and even in streaming, were Latino themed content. The only bad news is there's not enough. When you have one big theatrical release, the whole community, every corner puts pressure for representation. So even though in this release, I felt incredibly seen, there's a beautiful Cuban storyline, and I don't want to get into to all of around it, but there's a beautiful Cuban storyline. So me, my family, I was with my dad at the theater and we watched it. And the camera goes by a bubbling bowl of foreign language. And he hit me with his elbow. And he's like, " Did you see that?" We were in the theater here near Pasadena and I said, " I saw it." And he put his hands over his eyes. And he felt so seen. And I did too. But at the same time, there were so many within our community that did not feel seen. I'm sure you know what movie I'm talking about. And I think the difficult part of that is the pressure. When we do have visibility, because there's so few pieces of content, Elias, that are green lit, that have Latino stories, there's so much pressure for every piece of content to represent all 30 of our communities. It's because there isn't enough content being green lit. The stories and the ideas are there. We have Latino writer rooms that we support, Nielsen supports. There's amazing talent within our community. The question is, where is it not being green lit and made? And that's at the studio level. And so that's where we're focusing our efforts to give the data and the resources to prove. Not only that representation isn't where it should be, but that when it is where it should be, shows do better. Audiences like more representation. Even if you're not Latino. White audiences like representation. Black audiences like better representation. People want to see their lived experience. And your lived experience is not just your community. You live with many others. So it's changing.

Elias: What movie are we were talking about? Talking In the Heights?

Stacie de Armas: Yes. We were talking about In the Heights. Just a fantastic, fantastic movie. Even though I know a large portion of our community felt unseen. I also know a large portion of our community did feel seen. So it was tough. It's hard.

Elias: This is what I meant that it's special. At least how I approached this, it's like, I am nowhere... I'm trying to remember. I don't know if Anthony Bourdain went to Nicaragua. I'm trying to remember if there was an episode, but-

Stacie de Armas: He might have. He went everywhere.

Elias: He went everywhere. I think I saw an episode and I was just blown away. But other than that, Nicaragua, the only thing that anybody knows about Nicaragua is Iran- Contras, Oliver North, and Reagan. That's the only thing people know. inaudible.

Stacie de Armas: The same for Columbia. I think suffers the same media. I'm going to Columbia in a week and a half. And I could not believe how much calming of nerves I had to do for people, because they have this one image that's been presented of this incredible country-

Elias: You're going to get kidnapped.

Stacie de Armas: And actually there's for Cuba.

Elias: And yeah. Cuba too. So to me, any Hispanic, Latina representation anywhere, I just feel the same way. When I see a dish, when I see stuff, when it's being used positively, I think it's interesting. I just learned something that Apple has a contract that Apple products cannot be on TV. Is that right? Unless they're being used in a positive manner. Did you know that?

Stacie de Armas: That I don't know. I don't know that I do know that-

Elias: You can never see a villain with an iPhone. It's only the hero. And-

Stacie de Armas: I did not know that. But I'm glad that the industry is taking note that they're looking at this data at a granular level. It's not just how many people are on screen. How are people presented? In what. And imagery, right? When you go to Netflix and you look at all the images for picking a movie, is there anything within the images that needs to be addressed? We take a look at that too at Nielsen, through our great snow partners. So there is a lot to tackle here, Elias, but the good news is, it's changing. Representation is changing across the board. The industry is advocating for its own, for itself. For itself to look at this data and change. Brands and agencies are, the entertainment community is. And so I think we are at the very beginning of what will be a wonderful journey in representation coming forward in content.

Elias: Thank you so much. Thank you for this. These are really, really great news. And I think that people like you, it plays such a key role in that. I feel more are comfortable. That it's not just Whites trying to decide what to do and how to do it right. But then you can hold them accountable and say like," Okay, it's not just the percentage, but it's the light." To be able to show inaudible, sponsorship, collaboration, equality on screen. Of how we them across and how people of other ethnicities and genders are being represented on screen. So this is fantastic. I think that this definitely supports, it's a great new insight. I'm in tech. So to be connected with someone in media and to understand the battles that you're fighting over there for your community, from early childhood to now, early in your profession, is not any different, right? You still are spreading great information and letting us know where we need to see ourselves and we need to ask for it and demand it as consumers. And it's going to make a big difference. I love the CHiPs story. And people don't realize how much of an impact. It's such an inspiration to see someone that looks like you. It's a nature thing. If we see someone that speaks our language looks like us, or grew up in the same neighborhood, we are looking for inspiration as human beings and whatever commonality we can draw to somebody that is further ahead in their lives and their success and their American dream. It inspires us to go try it. Because that's the kind of information sharing that happens when we meet someone like us. So thank you for what you're doing. Appreciate your time getting up really early. Anything you want to say-

Stacie de Armas: My pleasure. My pleasure.

Elias: Yeah. What's the biggest advice you can give me in tech or for us to look into media to help change this?

Stacie de Armas: I think the biggest advice I would give now is for us to really focus on the transfer of mis and disinformation, specifically in diaspora communities and Latino communities using encrypted technology. I think our community is being deliberately targeted in some cases. Of course, misinformation is just mischaracterized content, but disinformation is deliberate. And I do think because we are more prone to use encrypted technology, encrypted apps, that information spreads more widely in our communities. The impact is greater. And I would encourage the tech community along with communities that have the resources to research this, to really try and crack the code on how we can empower the community to fact check and to validate information before it spreads further. That's the greatest risk I think our community has right now.

Elias: Yes, absolutely. We didn't touch as much on it, but it's the fact that our communities tend to spend a lot of time on WhatsApp, on Telegram, maybe more on, I don't know if it's on Signal yet, but I know my whole family from Ecuador to my wife is on WhatsApp. And they're just messaging all day long. But we're talking about-

Stacie de Armas: We'll do a follow up podcast now.

Elias: We got to do a follow-

Stacie de Armas: We can talk-

Elias: All day on that. But it's really for us of like, how do we help our families and our communities to not spread disinformation. That really hurts our community and the progress of our communities. And so that's something to keep in mind. And maybe we talk more about it later. Thank you so much, Stacie.

Stacie de Armas: I would love to. Gracias.

Elias: foreign language Bye-bye.


Stacie de Armas knows what it feels like to be the other.

Growing up a Cubana in California, Stacie embraced her Latinx community wherever she could find it, and she quickly noticed the inequalities between them and her white counterparts. Now working in media research at Nielsen, Stacie feels responsible to represent her community and raise awareness of social inequity, which is what she and Elias talk about in this episode.

The highlights:

  • Stacie's childhood (1:16)
  • Stacie's early work at Bank of America (7:00)
  • Being the "other" in the workplace (14:11)
  • Elias' life mantra (16:23)
  • Microaggressions in the workplace today (21:16)
  • The privilege of work (23:38)
  • Stacie and Nielsen's research of underrepresented groups in media (26:08)
  • Stacie's advice to the tech industry (41:29)

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Today's Host

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Elias Torres

|Co-founder & CTO, Drift

Today's Guests

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Stacie de Armas

|SVP, Diverse Consumer Insights & Initiatives, Nielson