The Afrolatin@ Theatre Series:Actress, Writer, and Theatre Mogul Florinda Bryant

Addressing the call to action in the article “Why We Need Afrolatin@ Theatre,” this series highlights many outstanding Afrolatin@ theatre artists around the United States who diligently offer the world their art. This first installment profiles actress, writer, and Salvage Vanguard Theater’s Managing Director Florinda Bryant.

  Florinda Bryant. Photo courtesy of Florinda Bryant.

I met the vibrant Florinda Bryant in May of 2015 when she was performing in a staged reading of my play The Stories of Us. I knew that I wanted to continue working with her the moment she took a line that I had no intention of being humorous and made the audience laugh. There is something about certain people who have a spark and Bryant has it. After the performance, I got the chance to speak with her and was deeply inspired by her passion for theatre and telling Black and Brown stories. Continue reading


Meeting Afrolatina Writer Icess Fernandez Rojas


Photo Credit: Icess Fernandez Rojas

A few weeks ago, I got the chance to sit down with one of my favorite writers and pick her brain.  I’ve been following Icess Fernandez Rojas for a few years via her blog, retweeting her twitter jewels for quite someone time. Icess is a fierce Afrolatina whose journalistic work has been featured in the Guardian and The Huffington Post Latino Voices and All  Digitocracy. When I found that she was in my city, I had to set up a meeting.  To my surprise, she agreed to spend a portion of her Saturday with me chatting about her career. Continue reading

Seen Elsewhere: Six Unconventional Ways to Practice Your Spanish

Photo via Tumblr 

Photo via Tumblr

You’re probably already spending hours on Rosetta Stone.  You’re practically glued to your Duolingo app.  You have all the latest Spanish music, but you are on the look out for ways to perfect your second language that aren’t so… traditional.  Here are six unconventional ways to practice your Spanish. Continue reading

The Austin Latino New Play Festival May 14 – 16, 2015

The announcement on the Teatro Vivo website.

Teatro Vivo

Teatro Vivo Presents Fifth Annual Austin Latino New Play Festival

at the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center May 14-16, 2015

Playwrights Andrew Valdez, Adriana Garcia, and Jelisa Jay Robinson

Create Fresh Takes on the Latino Experience.

Teatro Vivo presents the fifth annual Austin Latino New Play Festival (ALNPF) in collaboration with ScriptWorks May 14-16, 8 p.m. at the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center. The festival includes three evenings of staged readings of new Latino plays with nightly general admission that is “pay what you wish.” A $40 festival pass is available for those attending all three evenings, and reserved seats may be purchased for $15 each evening. Visit for information.


ALNPF is a theater event that brings playwrights and audience members together in conversation surrounding three new workshop productions that bring insight into the Latino experience. After each reading, the playwright and director participate…

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A Night in the Caribbean and Afro-Latino Music Connection

This semester I (along with the organization I am a part of Latin America Network, Ana Hernandez, the African and African Diaspora Department and the Latin American Studies Department) spearheaded two events A Night in the Caribbean and the Afro-Latino Music Connection! February 18th, 2014—Latin America Network, a UT Austin campus organization, organized “A Night in the Caribbean” during Black History Month to honor the African roots of the Caribbean.  It was an amazing night full of Afro-Caribbean music, great food and dancing taught by Texas Latin Dance.  Students were able to dance, enjoy food and even engage in dialogue about the African roots of Latin music.  The best part was the dancing!  Check out the photos taken by Ana Hernandez.



Our music panel featured some of UT Austin’s music experts like Dr. Robin Moore, Juan Agudelo, and Cory Lafevers discussing the roots of African music in contemporary pop music of CUBA, BRAZIL, AND COLOMBIA. Events like these are happening all over campus and add to the diversity of UT’s campus.  I am extremely proud to be a part of that work here.

Latin American Network and Umoja host Negra! A Night of Afro-Latina Performance


February 11, 2014—Two campus organizations came together during Black history month to celebrate Afro-Latinas and their stories on campus by hosting Negra! A Night of Afro-Latina Performance.  Umoja and Latin American Network are two great organizations that uplift communities of color on campus and coming together for this event represented an ever growing bond between the African American and Latino community at UT Austin.    Negra was a night like no other. There were interactive performances, visual artists, performers, singers and Texas Latin Dance workshop.  Each and every performer or speaker shared a piece of their experience as an Afro-Latina or an ally.

The biggest surprise of the night was the impromptu dance party at the end.  After a wonderful workshop led by Texas Latin Dance representatives, the audience took over the floor and danced for thirty minutes after the show ended. Negra! was  not only fun but it shed light on the diversity within the Black community.  People were coming together to celebrate, learn and support Afro-Latina stories.  I hope that Latin America Network and Umoja continue this program next semester and for many years to come.  I feel like it can be a tool to ignite unity between Black and Brown communities.


Maria Andrea Dos Santos performs an interactive Theatre piece.


Ishia Adams performs poetry.


Omaris Zamora performs poetry.


Tempeste Wallance talks about her artwork.


Irma Garcia shares her story!


Rebecca Avila performs a song.


Texas Latin dance merengue workshop!


Texas Latin Dance Leader Kassandra Cardenas teaches the crowd how to dance.


Our host Ashley Rivera (right) and Umoja member.

The Line Up!

Irma Garcia-Experience Sharing

Temptese Wallace-Visual Art Presentation

 Omaris Zamora-Poetry

 Jasmine Gramhn-Experience Sharing

 Rebecca Avila -Performance

Rachel Lee – Experience Sharing

 Andrea Dos Santos-Theatre Performance

Ishia Adams – Poetry Performance

Texas Latin Dance workshop



The organizers of the event: Jasmine G., Asia H. and Me.

I was extremely excited that this event finally happened because it was something I have been thinking about since 2010.  With the help, assistance and guidance of wonderful leaders like Rocio Villalobos, Omaris Zamora, Asia Howard of Umoja and Ana Hernandez of Latin American Network, we were able come up with an event that would appeal to UT Austin’s students in a great way!  I am really thankful to Ana for being so willing to take this project on and for Asia who connected Latin American Network  to the Black community and to students who identified as both Black and Latino.  There is truly strength in working together.

Wonderful Tree Theatre Group Promotes Black Pride in Santo Domingo

“The theater group Wonderful Tree has visited schools all over Santo Domingo and some in the countryside to spread the word among black children that their features and heritage should be a source of pride.” says an article the Washington Post.  The actresses in the story counter the age old notions of Black not being beautiful by playing a story where Black women are princesses.  In the Dominican Republic, lighter skin is prized and many are not proud of their African heritage so these images are not what these students would normally see.

The play tackles big issues in the country like GOOD HAIR and BAD HAIR…that sounds familiar.  Similar to Blacks in the United States, Dominicans with curly hair get straighteners to make it straight.  The women in the Wonderful Tree play wear their hair natural to show that natural hair is beautiful.

Their decision to do this play in a school is a great one.  You never know what one event can change the ways young Black/Mulatoo/of African descent children see themselves.  I’m glad that this theatre group is showing how art can inspire pride.

Keep up the great work!

© Jelisa Robinson and Black Girl, Latin World, 2013 Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jelisa Robinson and Black Girl, Latin World with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.