Catalans Abroad

Maria Brasero.

Gaduated in Communication and Publicity in Barcelona and in Film Production from UCLA

“The sky is the limit”

I’ve been blessed by working in many different areas of the entertainment industry you should live life with purpose, not just getting by
Why did you leave Catalonia?
I left Catalonia in 2009, right at the beginning of the crisis, because it was very hard to find a job in the field I studied, which was Media and Communications. So I took a leap of faith and applied to UCLA to do a Master’s in Entertainment studies and got in. My hope was always to come back, because I love Barcelona and I’m very attached to my family and friends. I never thought I’d be away for more than a year but life takes you to unexpected places sometimes and I’m still here. I’ve always wanted to be in the entertainment industry, and Hollywood is the place to be.
Are you happy with the job opportunities you found in Los Angeles?
Absolutely. I’ve been here for 13 years and it was very hard at first because I had no connections at all before moving to LA and I had to build them from zero. On top of that, my English wasn’t that great at that time and getting a work permit was extremely hard. But once I got my foot in the door I’ve been blessed by working non-stop and in many different areas of the entertainment industry. I was an assistant at a top Talent Agency [WME, that reps Keanu Reeves, Jared Leto, Bardem, Tarantino] for one year, I worked at a film distribution company for almost two and finally I landed at LATV.
Tell us more about your job there.
It’s the first bicultural national TV network in the US to target millennial Latinos across the country through bilingual content. I started there as the Talent Booker and within a year I became a reporter and then after three years a writer and executive producer of our all-female talk show Get it Girl. That would’ve taken me years to achieve in Catalonia. Here people are more likely to give you the chance if you’ve proven that you can and want to do it.
You also wrote and produced the award-winning short, After Life Vacation, which is being adapted into a feature film, and your first pilot, L.A.tinas is in pre-development in HBO.
After Life Vacation was a short I wrote a year after my dad passed away, which was the hardest time of my life. My therapist suggested I should use writing as catharsis and transform the pain into something else. So the short started with the premise of what if dying is just the beginning of a new adventure, and it soon became a sci fi, rom-com about who you would like to spend eternity with if you could choose. I shot it with my husband, who is a director, and it did very well on the festival circuit. There are four amazing Catalan actors in it: Jano Sanvicente, Anna Vinyas, Sergi Cervera and Valeria Gonzalez. As for L.A.tinas, it’s a pilot I wrote based on my group of LA girlfriends who are all Latinas. I was very upset that Latinas always get the same type of stories: the maids, the narcas, the cholas... but that was not at all my experience, so I wrote a dramedy inspired by my amazing group of friends who have been my rock all these years. It’s a love letter to our friendship because without them I would probably have come back to Barcelona many years ago. LA is a very tough city and if you don’t have a support group it’s very hard to succeed. We submitted it to Warner Media, who were selecting just four projects for a new partnership with HBO and we got in! Now we’re in pre-development and so we’ll see what happens, but I’m very excited. I always say I lost my father but I gained an angel because he’s always looking out for me.
What do you think is the best thing about living there?
The weather is pretty amazing if you like sunny days 360 days a year. And everything is possible. If you work hard and are determined you can achieve whatever you set your mind to; the sky’s the limit, really, and I never felt that anywhere else.
What would you most like to change?
There are things about the system that clearly don’t work; for instance, health care is extremely expensive and flawed. Also, there are a lot of homeless people camping around the city, something you would never see in Catalonia. I wish the government had better programmes and shelters for them.
What do you miss most from home?
My loved ones, the food, and something just as simple as a good baguette. In the 13 years I’ve been here I haven’t found a bakery with good bread and in Barcelona there’s one on almost every corner! I took them for granted but now I miss them!
What do you take with you as a present from your new home when you go back to Barcelona?
Motivation. Giving 100% in everything I do and always lifting others along the way. In Catalonia, the general attitude in life is just to get by whereas here it’s “do your best”.

CATALANS ABROAD Los Angeles (United States)


Where are the best places for visitors to stay?
It depends on what you want. If you enjoy the beach, then Malibu, Santa Monica or Venice. If you want to have the Hollywood experience, then Beverly Hills and some parts of Hollywood (others are pretty ugly).
What do you consider the highlights for any brief visit for the first time?
If you’re coming for a few days, you probably need to visit Universal Studios, Hollywood Blvd (although it’s a tourist trap, everyone wants to see it), The Griffith Observatory, Beverly Hills and Santa Monica or Venice.
And if visitors have more time or make a return visit?
The Getty Villa in Malibu and the Walt Disney concert in DTLA.
Can you recommend a place to have lunch with friends?
Urth Cafe. It has the best coffees and quiches in town. Everything is sustainably grown and organic, and it has a beautiful patio.
Where would you have a special dinner for two?
Frida, in Beverly Hills, offers you a quiet, romantic spot with some of the best Mexican Food you’ll ever taste!
Whens the best time of year to plan a visit?
Anytime, honestly. The weather is always nice and there are always things to do all year round. However, if you are a basketball fan, you should come mid-January to mid-February, during the NBA playoffs so you can catch the Lakers.
What’s the best kept secret about the area?
The first Friday of the month, all the best food trucks in LA get together in Venice. You can have a five star dish for the price of fast food. And Self Realization Lake Shrine Fellowship, a beautiful hidden spot in Pacific Palisades where you can go and meditate in the middle of nature. Some of Gandhi’s ashes are scattered there.
What characterises your neighbourhood?
I live in Marina del Rey, which as the name hints, is by the ocean. It’s a family oriented neighbourhood and one of the few where you can walk around. That’s why we chose to live here.
Are there any places to avoid?
Skid Row. That’s an area downtown where all the homeless camp... it’s very easy to be walking around downtown and find yourself there. So watch out for that!
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