|Posted by Kathy Sandru on May 27, 2010 at 11:09 AM|
”Who could turn the world on with her smile…..” Women in the Seventies tuned in to watch The Mary Tyler Moore Show who symbolized for them the new modern woman – career-oriented,ambitious, single, attractive, trying to carve out a niche in the male orientedworld of broadcast journalism. Fast forward to today, and you have Ylse, her Latina counterpart. Ruth Livier, an accomplished award-winning actor, producer and writer, founded her production company, Livier Productions, Inc. with the goal of creating Hispanic driven projects to fill an existent market gap. With this aim in mind, Ms. Livier created YLSE, a quirky award-winning bicultural dramedy web series now in its second season. In an exclusive interview, Ms. Livier talks about Ylse’s connection to Mary Tyler Moore, the soap genre in both the Latin & Non-Latin communities, and why this is the time to use the Internet in creating diverse web series.
Kathy Sandru: First of all, I would like to thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to chat with us on your web series Ylse. I couldn’t help but think of Ylse as the Latina Mary Tyler Moore!
Kathy Sandru: How did you come up with the concept for the series?
Ruth Livier: Mary Tyler Moore was my firs tinspiration, that’s great that you got that!! As far as the concept goes, I’ve been in entertainment my whole life so I knew that as a new writer I had to focus on a world I am very comfortable with. Plus, an interview show lends itself to a lot of interesting guest and commentary on the ‘behind the scenes’ of showbiz. And I love Oprah so taking that further and having Ylse idolize her was anatural conclusion to come to.
KS: According to your biography on Ylse.net, you are very successful as a working actor in both the Latin & non-Latin entertainment industries. Do you see
differences/similarities in the audiences you are entertaining?
RL: I think people just want to be engaged by fresh & entertaining stories that they can relate to.
KS: You know, I grew up in a multicultural neighborhood that was predominantly Hispanic. I remember my friends’ moms watching the novelas on Telemundo and Univision. Can you please describe to me what the soap audience is like? And, are the shows more like mini-series as opposed to long-running series such as The Bold &The Beautiful and The Young and the Restless?
RL: Yes, ‘novelas’ are more like mini-series but, just like the soap audience, novela viewers are very loyal & highly engaged!
KS: In my opinion, Hispanic actors and actresses are also overlooked in terms of positive storylines, not only on soaps but also in Hollywood in general. What do you think needs to be done in order to portray more positive Latin/Latina role models in Hollywood?
RL: We need to take the reigns and create the roles we want to see. Via the web, we have a great opportunity tocreate & distribute content, to prove our audience and hopefully that in turn will trickle up and decision-makers will see the value in green lighting more Hispanic driven projects that are not stereotypical in nature.
KS: What I like most about Ylse is how your series uses current events, as well as references to pop cultural icons, such as Ylse’s obsession with Oprah Winfrey. And the scenes where Ylse’s producer Blanca hires this “cultural coach” to have Ylse act more “Hispanic” was too funny! I was wondering if you drew that scene from personal experience or not. I don’t know if you had ever seen the film Hollywood Shuffle with Actor/Director Robert Townsend, but there is a part in the film where his character imagines a “Black Acting School” were White instructors were teaching Black actors on “acting Black”! That scene reminded me of the film!
RL: LOL, yes, early on in my Hollywood life I quickly realized that I better learn how to speak with an East LA accent if I was going to be considered for 90% of the roles I was going out on….so I hired a coach.
KS: The characters on Ylse use “Spanglish” in their conversations throughout the series. As the writer and creator,this is a bold move. Do you think that the non-Latin viewers have embraced this or not? And as I have said in my review, my opinion is that some phrases don’t translate very well in English. But as the writer, you have shown ways to engage the audience in the episodes. What are your thoughts?
RL: It’s funny but, I don’t see it as a bold move as much as an honest glimpse into how millions of us US Hispanics interact. Spanglish is simply a reflection of my everyday life. And because onthe web one has absolute creative freedom and I didn’t have layers of bureaucracy to appease….I just went for it. For season two however I did decide to have three versions of the show: the original Spanglish, a version with all English subtitles and a version with all Spanish subtitles. This is due to our audience which is even larger than I realized and I don’t want anyone missing out on Ylse!
KS: According to recent numbers in viewership, the daytime genre (in the U.S.) seems to be in trouble, while web soaps such as Ylse seem to be gaining more momentum with viewers. There is also talk the Daytime Emmys may expand the soap opera category to include more web soaps. In your opinion, what do you feel needs to be done in order to save soaps? And what can we, as viewers, do to support the emergence of web soaps?
RL: What you are doing with this blog is a great way to save soaps & to draw attention to the emergence of soaps on the web. To the audience I would say, ‘watch & interact’ with sites like Time After Time/Soap World.
KS: I have one final question for you: As an aspiring writer myself, I am always looking for inspiration and suggestions in developing and perfecting my craft. As an experienced actor/writer/producer, what piece of advice can you give other aspiring artists and film makers out there , especially for women and women of color?
RL: The low-barriers to entry on the web make it a fantastic platform for us to showcase our talents & tell our stories from our POV….so go for it: Write, shoot & distribute!
KS: Thank you so much, Ms. Livier for taking timeout of your busy schedule to chat with me about Ylse, and congratulations onsuch an excellent series!
RL: My pleasure...thank you
So for all you budding soap writers and film makers, take pens and cameras in hand and let’s get our stories told! Thank you, Ms. Livier, for your inspiration & on taking the time to speak to us!
To view series click image below
You can also watch Ylse on Ylse.net