In August of 2012, The Huffington Post launched HuffPost Live, a new live-streaming video network that serves up 12 hours of live video from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m (EST), every weekday in a daytime talk-show format.
Every conversation on HuffPost Live is guided by the show's team of hosts -- accomplished individuals who have a diverse set of backgrounds and media experiences and come from all walks of life. When the ten inaugural hosts of HuffPost Live were announced back in August, we were thrilled to see a Latina in the mix -- her name is Alicia Menendez and she's a Host & Producer on the show!
Menendez is the perfect example of what it means to be an "Inspiring Latina." The 29-year-old Cuban American journalist is not only a graduate of Harvard College (where she was named one of the 15 most interesting members of the class of 2005 and selected to give the Commencement address at her college graduation ceremony), but she's also a respected political pundit and TV commentator and a talented host and producer (as we see daily on HuffPost Live!).
The daughter of United States Senator Robert Menendez, Alicia has been telling stories that matter to the Latino community (and to all Americans) on HuffPost Live for five months now, and she's one of 10 reasons the show was recently named the Most Innovative Media Product to Emerge in 2012 by Mashable readers! (The show has also been credited with reinventing cable news for the web).
Alicia took time from her busy schedule at HuffPost Live to chat with Latina.com about her work on the award-winning show, her advice for other Latinas looking to follow in her footsteps, and the Latina who has had the greatest influence in her life (her abuelita, Evangelina!).
Tell us about your job with HuffPost Live!
I work an eleven hour day and I love every minute of it. Nowhere else would I be allowed to talk about politics and weddings in the same day. Our team is dynamic --- young, smart and scrappy. Every day I host, and together with rotating production teams, produce three different thirty-minute segments. What makes the network so unique is that our community members can speak out on the issues that matter most to them, on equal footing with other guests, including celebrities, pundits and experts. My favorite segments are the ones where community members share their personal experiences on everything from dating to homelessness, and my only job is to get out of the way.
How important is to you to be a part of the conversation that involves issues relating to Latinos in the US?
I'm grateful to be part of a platform that allows me to produce and host segments on issues that affect all Americans, with a Latina perspective, often with other Latinos.
Is it important to you to be a voice for the voiceless Latinos in this country?
Absolutely. But more importantly, I want to empower people to find their own voice, to become their own best advocates for themselves, their families and their communities.
What advice do you have for other Latinas that would like to become part of the conversation, and create meaningful change in the lives of everyday Latinos?
Try everything! I've had seven jobs since I graduated from college. I took the LSATs before realizing I didn't want to go to law school. Figure out what it is you're good at, what you bring to the table, what you love --- that's half the battle. Once you do, commit yourself to it and hustle. You'll be unstoppable.
What little things can the average person do to affect change in this country?
Register to vote. Stay informed. When you care about something, contact your state and federal representatives and let them know! Vote. Think about running for office. Be a good neighbor. And join us on HuffPost Live. Visit the site and click the red button to become an on-air guest!
Which Latinas have inspired you along the way?
My abuela, Evangelina left Cuba with two kids and her husband and started her life all over again. She ran the show. She made things work. When I think about the tenacity it takes to make something out of nothing, and the spirit necessary to thrive in situations where others could not survive, any struggle I face pales in comparison. Any time I speak at a public event, there is always a young Latina who finds me after --- to ask about a job in media, to talk about the DREAM Act, or to take a picture and share email addresses. Each of those young women remind of how far we've come, and how far we've yet to go.
Also, watch the video below to see her in action!