Cultura is a new video series by film director Edgar Daniel in collaboration with Latina. Each episode is followed by a Q&A with the subject.

Edgar Daniel Olazaba is a Mexican-American film director and photographer based in Los Angeles. The son of immigrant parents, Edgar focuses his work on the complexities of Latino culture, particularly for members of the U.S. Latino diaspora.

In this new short series, “Cultura,” Edgar seeks to create a space for fellow Latinos to share their unique perspectives on what cultura means to them. By highlighting such journeys, Edgar aims to demonstrate how Latino culture has influenced each subject to become the person that they are today. “As I deepen my connection with my heritage, so has my need to get to know my culture through others’ stories,” shared Edgar.

In this first episode of “Cultura,” Edgar highlights the story of José Hernandez, a proudly gay and Mexican-American model based in Los Angeles, and the road to acceptance.

Episode 001: José Hernandez

From your own perspective what does cultura mean to you?

To me, cultura means a person’s DNA: their hardships, stories, ancestries. Cultura is what gives each person their uniqueness, and at the same time allows for connection with those who share similar upbringings and stories.

How has your cultura influenced you?

My cultura has definitely influenced me and as I’ve gotten older I’ve learned to be much more appreciative of it. It’s influenced in the way I dress (pulling inspiration from family photo albums), the way I communicate with others (giving off Tia vibes to whoever I meet!), and even the dishes I like to cook. There’s something about cooking meals that takes you back to your childhood and then nostalgia comes over you.

How do you stay connected to your cultura?

I’m a big family guy so I make sure to stay connected to my culture by staying close to my family. [For example], speaking Spanish with my elderly parents and feeling confident in asking questions about our family’s history. I learn the most about my family and culture when I hear it directly from my family members.

Social media has also made it more accessible to immerse yourself in your culture by following accounts linked to your interests. I follow accounts related to Mexico, Guanajuato, and Mexican American/Latinx creatives and artists.

What was your favorite cultural tradition growing up?

My favorite cultural tradition growing up [would] probably be the posadas my family would host around holiday time. From praying the rosary as a group to rocking the Baby Jesus to sleep, eating tamales, champurrado, and singing Spanish carols. Looking back, this has to be my favorite tradition. Everyone just seemed to come together and not only enjoy each others’ company but practice our catholic religion.

Tell us about one of the most valuable lessons your parents passed on to you.

My parents have always been hard-working, humble, traditional, and honest. Also, they are much older than the parents of those around my age — my dad is 77 and my mom is 75.  It’s hard to select just one lesson [that they’ve taught] because there are more than a few that they’ve shared and instilled in me!

If I had to choose just one, I’d say the importance of perseverance. I look at them and see how hard they’ve worked and yet they continue to work daily even if they’re retired. They strive to put their best foot forward daily without complaints.

They always say “échale ganas” simple words of encouragement that go a long way. Any small step is a step towards success (regardless of what success means to you). Ultimately the lesson [they’ve taught me] is to keep your head up and keep going no matter how hard life gets. I think it’s important to encourage oneself especially during these difficult and heavy times we are living in.

Credits:
Model – @eseveco
Director – @EdgarDaniel199x
photographer – @EdgarDaniel199x
Creative direction – @kidsdontknow_
DOP – @prince.dpx
Styling – @stefdenims
Production design – @_vslcarlos_
Art assistant – @charlotterosewool
Edited by – @kidsdontknow_
Color by – @kisdontknow_
Sound design by – @ayodouson