Imagine that you are a Latino influencer in the United States and, suddenly, a large company summons you to go live in a beautiful house in Hollywood and only dedicate yourself to making content for the internet with all the available comforts. Sounds like a dream, doesn’t it? Well, that’s exactly what happened to five Latinos.
We are talking about the group of tiktokers Familia Fuego, a project that began in September 2021 by DirecTV and the global company of creators and influencers Whalar. This aims to “foster opportunities for social media’s most talented and diverse creators” while nurturing “emerging Latino talent.”
The Latino community comprises an important part of American culture, driving most of the population growth, but remains underrepresented in the mainstream media, says the release of the project.
That’s why DirecTV and Whalar set up a $2.2 million Hollywood home for five TikTok-popular Latinos to live in and use as a creative hub. That way, they can continue to produce material for their respective audiences while collaborating with each other to create exclusive content for the Familia Fuego channel. His TikTok account already has 128,500 followers.
Latinos who are part of the Fuego Family are Leo Gonzalez, Alexia of the Valley, Monica Villa, isabella ferregur and Jesus Zapienwho have gone from holding service jobs to taking photos with Neil Patrick Harris, watching the Los Angeles Chargers play alongside Roddy Ricch and living down the street from Quentin Tarantino.
The fact that Familia Fuego is based in a city that is largely Latino in population, but in an extravagantly wealthy neighborhood, presents a major challenge for these five tiktokers, who are tasked with representing their heritage—eating pozolea traditional Mexican dish, for example—as they make their way into historically white career fields.
Alexia Del Valle, who is of Puerto Rican descent and has 1.5 million followers on her personal TikTok account, told Los Angeles Times that being a high-profile Latina influencer “is definitely a challenge.” However, she adds that this experience is giving them “an opportunity to represent where we come from. It seems more rewarding, in a way… We are exposing ourselves, and our people too.”
On the other hand, the tiktoker claims that people often assume that influencers are rich or have unlimited resources, but says that without the help of Familia Fuego’s sponsors — who recruited her through an email that everyone assumed was a scam—he would not have been able to fulfill his dream of living in Hollywood. “People don’t see that we really come from humble beginnings,” she says.
Although they live in Hollywood, and they don’t reject all the comforts that this brings, including passing through popular events or crossing paths with big celebrities, Jesús Zapien says they are more interested in “mocking the daily struggles” of working in the sector. services from their own experience with their content.
It don’t help if the manager lowkey mean 🥲 #manager #coworkers
Before joining the Familia Fuego project, Zapien, 24, of Mexican descent, worked at Walmart, Disneyland and later at a bank. “I was super shy, and then I said to myself, ‘I’m too broke to be shy anymore.'”
Now Zapien and his roommates dedicate themselves to TikTok full time, while their sponsors support them with free accommodation, basic food, travel stipends, a studio, a production team and a check. “It’s nice that you get paid to do what you like,” says the tiktoker.
The rest of the group has gone their own way into the world of influencers. Villa, 24 years old and of Mexican descent, worked in a catering company, and Ferregur, 21 years old and from a mixed Mexican-Cuban family, was engaged in boat rental.
On the other hand, there is González, 27 and also a Mexican-American, who planned to become a television reporter. He went through some stations in California and Nevada, until a video of him parodying an announcer went viral and he decided that social networks could be a “less traumatic” career.
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In Los Angeles, TikTok content houses are common, with the most recognized of them being the so-called Hype House, which later became a Netflix show. Yet for González, many of them feel strangely superficial, careerist, or inauthentic.
“They make their video and then they’re just on their phone. Here we have talked about our fears and dreams. We have been vulnerable. We have cried together and prayed together,” says González. According to Villa and Zapien, the difference is that the Fuego Family is built on a shared Latino identity that all members can relate to.
The house’s location also gives them access to Hollywood’s Latino elite. For example, the Fuego Family has been able to collaborate with Eva Longoria, have dinner with Mexican comedian Eugenio Derbez, and attend the premieres of Latino-focused projects such as West Side Story and Gentefied.
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As full-time influencers, the members of the Fuego Family are developing a dream job for many Americans. It is not something that many people can do, despite all the profits generated by social networks in recent years.
“Wanted to [las redes sociales] They were my job, but they really weren’t. It was very unstable. I took things day by day; I wasn’t sure where I was going to end up. But after coming into the house and being led by Whalar, it’s now a steady job,” Ferregur said.
It is worth mentioning that content houses are not given out of charity. Both the Familia Fuego and The Crib Around the Corner, an African-American collective, focus on DirecTV customer segments that are “notoriously difficult to reach through traditional channels” but are growing fast, according to chief marketing officer Vince Torres. . These are “developed to give DirecTV the ability to reach them in an authentic way.”
Either way, the project is giving a boost to the careers of each of the members, who have plans to cross over into the film and television, fashion, and music industries. “They’re not just making a nice Hispanic Heritage Month announcement. They are literally financing the livelihood of five creators,” González concluded.