Sports, Storytelling and the Human Experience with Walter Thompson-Hernández and Jay Mendoza

Gabe Zaldivar

We may have concluded Hispanic Heritage Month, but it’s vitally important to champion those Latinos who continue to inspire not just with their actions but with their presence.

This week we are fortunate to welcome two people onto the En Fuego podcast that are showing the world exactly how it’s done.

Jay Mendoza probably doesn’t need much of an introduction. He does have over 440,000 followers on Instagram after all.

But for those who don’t know him, allow us to introduce a comedian whose characters are bigger than life and someone whose work ethic is unparalleled.

“You got five seconds to make some somebody get attached to the video,” Mendoza tells En Fuego about his content creation. “And you're only as good as your last video. And so you've got to be like a machine.”

Read More: Jay Mendoza is Lifting Latino Comedy to New Heights

Mendoza talks about his life and how he got into comedy, creating short-form content for platforms such as Vine and Instagram.

As he explains, it hasn’t been easy. He’s had to struggle in an industry that doesn’t look to Latinos first for entertainment.

“When I first started, the Hispanic market was the lowest paid,” Mendoza said. “We got paid last. Their budgets were literally the dead bottom…And I just kept going. And all you could truly do, if you truly believe in what you really love, is all you could do is keep going.”

First up on the show is Walter Thompson-Hernández, a journalist who has written for such publications as the New York Times, The Guardian and NPR. He is in the middle of switching from the world of journalism to the realm of streaming storytelling.

We discuss a great many things, such as the importance of representation, showing the younger generation that they too can go on to write for some of the most renowned publications.

He also explains how he himself came to love books, writing and covering stories that center on the human experience.

Read More: Answering Life’s Great Question with Walter Thompson-Hernández

“Writing really begins with my mom,” Thompson-Hernández said. “My mom was in a Ph.D. program in literature at UCLA and like single mom raising me in a Ph.D. program at 25, 26 [years old], I was with her every single day. I was there for office hours. I was there in classes. I was in the library with her… And so for me, it's like my mom didn't have a lot to share with me in terms of resources, in terms of money, but she had her books.”

Those early lessons in determination were invaluable for a young kid who would grow up, travel the world and uncover some of the most captivating human-interest stories.

These two storytellers share with us their unique perspective on reaching their fellow human beings in the most profound ways. If you enjoy this episode, be sure to subscribe to the En Fuego Podcast wherever you stream your favorite shows.  

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