Today we’d like to introduce you to Yovanka Sanchez.
Yovanka, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I was born in Mexico City, but I am a true citizen of the world. As a child, I had the opportunity to travel and live abroad thanks to my father’s diplomatic career. Learning about the world, cultures and people as I have never imagined is what has greatly contributed to the storyteller I am. Thanks to this great worldly opportunity, I am fluent in four languages; Spanish, English, French and Italian. I’ve always loved to tell stories. When I was a young girl, there wasn’t a day that I wouldn’t have imagined an incredible Universe with amazing characters and journeys. I got my start in television with Televisa, the largest media conglomerate in Mexico as a TV host.
From there, I move to work with Univision and then Telemundo, the two largest Latin networks in the US. I not only worked as talent in front of the cameras but behind the scenes as a producer, production assistant, director, scriptwriter. I also carried the big tapes (at the time cameras used them) when it was needed for a production. Television was my best school and greatest experience because it gave me the opportunity to learn about production from all angles and sides, in front and behind the cameras. But even when I was working in television, I was creating and telling stories. This fantastic ride lasted for over 17 years. As the digital media world began to evolve and offer storytellers the opportunity to put their stories in front of an audience, I realize this was the perfect chance for me to finally get behind the camera and bring stories to life, my true passion and dream. Under my recently launched storytelling studio La Mariposa Films, www.lamariposafilms.com, I’ve been involved with branded content, short films, documentaries, films and digital media. And if I think when I began to “tell stories”, it was as soon as I learned how to talk, to my family and friends, so I have always been a “storyteller”. But the true mission is to put women in front of and behind the camera with films, TV series and short content and with empowering characters who reflect our true role as women in the world today. Gena Davis once said, “if she can see it, she can be it.”, when we see other women doing great things, we can see the possibilities for ourselves. Shifting perceptions of what young girls and women can do to contribute to the world and our humanity I think is key for the future. I want to see more heroines in all the screens, we already have a lot of heroes! Through my storytelling studio La Mariposa Films, I’ve also had the opportunity to work with many important partners and bring amazing stories to life like NBC, AJ Plus, CNN, Latinarrific, FedEx, Babson College, Hearts Digital Media and many more. I am thankful when this brands and platforms trust me and my team with their projects or productions. This is truly my passion, creating amazing stories, but especially “women stories”.
Has it been a smooth road?
The media industry has been mostly male-dominated until now. It has not been a smooth road and with many different kinds of challenges. Especially, because as a woman, I was thought of as someone who could not perform some of the roles offered to man. I also had a few “me too” moments throughout my career. The good thing about me is that this has only served me to continues pushing myself harder. At the same time, I remain unaffected by people’s harsh words and no’s. I don’t internalize other people’s criticism. I use it as my fuel to push for more. I’ve had also a lot of no’s in my career and life. I use other women’s stories as my “road map” to success.
When I read or learn about how other women accomplish their “dreams”, the struggles they faced and how they overcame them it is just a great and inspirational tool and the best manual for me. I never let opportunities pass me by because sometimes, I know it only happens once, so I take them all. There’s never going to be a right moment to speak, share an idea or a project I just take the chance and dive into it. I just take the moment and I don’t let thoughts like ‘I don’t feel like I’m ready’ get in my way, never! And if I make a mistake, I own up, apologizes, make it right and move on, I don’t ruminate. For all the young women starting on this amazing journey, I would say “just go for it”. They are living in a better time for “women”. The #metoo movement and #timesup have really created a shift in many industries towards women and hopefully, this will only continue. I believe if women are not giving the opportunities they want, they have to go out and create them for themselves. The more experience they get, the more doors that they will open in productions that are bigger both in budget and scale. I also think reaching out to other women in media and finding ways to collaborate together is very important. And never be afraid to ask for help or for that “opportunity” you want.
Also, find a woman who can become your mentor or mentor other women, this is part of an important and needed change in our industry. I am particularly focused on supporting and placing as many women as possible in different roles within my productions and mentoring the new generation of younger women in media and future storytellers. Also, through my storytelling studio La Mariposa Films, I hope to bring to the screen as many women’s stories as possible. In regards to women in media, companies are starting to place more women in key decision positions which in turn will benefit greenlighting a lot of more women’s projects. And finally, Hollywood is seeing that women’s stories are not just a “good thing to do” but an “important enhancing, moneymaking commodity.” Let’s just look at the worldwide success of Wonder Woman or The Hunger Games. These big productions have proven also that women have “the pants” to lead large-scale projects. Things are changing for women and not only in media, within all industries, but again women have to continue speaking out, so their voices can be heard. And they need to be loud, this cannot be just a “momentum thing” but a real change for women around the globe.
So let’s switch gears a bit and go into La Mariposa Films story. Tell us more about the business.
My work is to help brands, non-profits, platforms communicate a message through stories whether short or long. It really doesn’t matter as long is a story. Storytelling is what connects us to our humanity. It is what links us to our past, and provides a glimpse into our future. Since humans first walked the earth, they have told stories, before even the written word or oral language. Through cave drawings and over fires, humans have told stories as a way to shape our existence. Things happen to us — the elements of a story — but as humans, we have unique perspectives, which shape how a story is relayed. We, storytellers, learned early on that people like to hear stories with a beginning, a middle, and an end. We seem to be drawn to stories that have characters that look like us — or at least share characteristics we can relate to. We also desire to be drawn into the storytelling and enjoy when a story builds up to a thrilling climax, followed by a satisfying conclusion. We want to use our imaginations, and sometimes don’t, and prefer to passively have a story told to us. Many of us enjoy being moved by a story, either emotionally, or viscerally. So I love to help create amazing stories!! And today more than ever they are important because before people are costumes, they are an audience, an audiences like to be entertained and moved. I consider myself a storyteller and I am proud to be able to bring stories to life. I like to help clients with crafting their creative idea for their message all the way to execution, meaning from script to screen. This is why my studio is called La Mariposa Films because there is a symbolism of how a caterpillar becomes a butterfly, there is metamorphosis, just like it happens with a short story in media, the idea transforms into a script and then to an amazing story. Transformation!! And I always try for the stories that I collaborate with to have some kind of inspirational message, to elevate our audiences, just like a butterfly that flies beautifully high. I think what sets me apart from others is that I am a passionate “storyteller” and that I truly and genuinely love my clients. I am proud that I bring my 120 percent to every take or production and that I will not be satisfied until I see a big smile on my client’s faces, for me this is really important, their true happiness with the end result or story. I am also very proud to have as part of my mission bringing as many “women stories” to the light as possible and creating opportunities for women behind the camera. At the same time being part of the #change for women in all industries. Again, if we can see women doing amazing things then the perceptions about us will #change and our world will be better. How do I want people to know me or remember me? As Yovanka ” The Storyteller” 🙂
Who do you look up to? How have they inspired you?
Oh my God, so many women inspiring me each day of my life. All women I think are amazing, for wearing so many hats every day of their lives like being nurses chauffeurs, cooks, stylists, loving and consoling mommy’ s and the list goes on… and in top having their professional jobs and struggles to make a difference and succeed in a man’s world. From my sister to my friends, to my mom, to my sister in law, from the woman in the shop of the corner to the indigene women in my native Mexico to the ones in Africa or India… they all inspire me and make me want to tell their unique an untold stories. Believe me, if you seat with them you will find out about their inspirational journeys and learn something from each of them that will stay with you forever. I always take one lesson, one message, one moment, one look from their eyes that makes them unique and “incredible women”. But from the ones that I’ve had their stories come to the light, there are so many incredible women throughout the history of the world. You see there was: Mary Magdalene, Cleopatra, Simone de Beauvoir, Jane Austen, Coco Chanel, Eleanor Roosevelt, Rosa Parks, Indira Gandhi, Eva Peron, Margaret Thatcher, Wangari Maathai, Mother Teresa, Anne Frank, Frida Kahlo, J.K. Rowling, Malala Yousafzai and the list goes on. They all have more or less the same story in different countries, cultures, religions, languages but a common denominator “inspiration”. They all in some way made a difference, created change or stood up for something they very much believed on and it did not matter how much they were judge, hurt, misunderstood or suppressed, they just went and did it! So, all women inspire me in every corner of the world! And I feel blessed to be a woman today more than ever!