Meet the faces behind Ladies Who Bronche, Julissa and SkittLeZ.
This time around we are blessed to highlight not one, but two #SPOKENJEFAS.
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself and your podcast?
Ladies Who Bronché is a podcast from the Bronx native creators of Shit Spanish Girls Say, Julissa Contreras & Skittlez Ortiz, bringing the New York Latinx voice into spaces where their perspective is often overshadowed. Bronché is a sacred time of spilling tea, clinking glasses, and indulging in all the decedent perspectives on news, entertainment, politics, and experiences life’s menu has to offer. Mimosas soften the blow; who says you can’t talk about everything at the table?
Julissa is a writer, poet, actor, and innovator. Julissa worked in the nonprofit industry for over 10 years both in theatrical and youth development capacities and continues to bridge the two worlds to create dialogue and art that reflects society's overlooked voices through advocacy. In all of her work, Julissa focuses on elevating necessary dialogue through creating connected experiences. Most recently, Julissa worked with Miguel Mckelvey at WeWork developing and managing Impact and DEI programming. Currently, Julissa is building her first tech company alongside Amy Ilyse Rosenthal and Catherine Connors. More on that soon!
SkittLeZ Ortiz is a Latinx singer, actor and content creator from the Bronx, New York. SkittLeZ has spent the last 5 years working as a full-time music educator while simultaneously creating video content for the internet. With over 22,000 subscribers and over 12 million views, SkittLeZ produces an array of content that ranges from daily video blogs and sketch comedy, to musical covers and parodies at SkittLeZMusicTV on Youtube. In 2013, SkittLeZ produced and starred in the Telemundo Premios Tu Mundo nominated hit "Sh*t Spanish Girls Say." In 2016, SkittLeZ won “Youtube Next Up” and in 2020 was a recipient of the Bronx Recognizes Its Own grant for their work. SkittLeZ has appeared in season 2 and 3 of HBO’s “High Maintenance.” Most recently, SkittLeZ can be heard as Debbie in WILD LIFE on SyFy.
2. What is the mission of LADIES WHO BRONCHE?
Our goal is to make difficult conversation palatable, first by accessing the heart with a meal and loosen the nerves with some cocktails, then by creating a safe space where people can agree to disagree but all walk away with a new understanding of a different perspective. Our guests are everyday people whose perspectives aren’t otherwise highlighted. They live in the same world as any potential audience member, perhaps on a different side of it, but the two should acknowledge each other. From their views on current events to diving into a part of their personal story that serves as a teachable moment for both me and my audience, our goal is simply to have honest dialogue over some good ass brunch.
3. What have you learned from working with each other?
Julissa: I’ve learned the importance of remaining honest with each other about where our minds, hearts, and intentions live throughout the process of the work. All the drama comes from silencing our truths for the sake of avoiding conflict but new ideas and workflows are often born from conflict.
SkittLeZ: Being that we’ve known eachother since we were 14, we’ve really learned how to grow with each other. We’ve learned how to communicate and how to have a working professional relationship that coexists with our friendship. We know each other's strengths which allows us to individually flourish in areas where we’re strong, but also support each other in areas where we may need it.
4. How did you come up with the idea?
One day Skittlez and I were in Hell's Kitchen walking to a dinner after some drinks at a random Mexican spot. We were laughing about something and I said, “You know we’re actually funny as fuck. And we should have a space to talk our shit as we do, fuck waiting to be hired by another platform.” It took a couple years to get the idea off the ground, but the idea was born from the lack of validation we often faced when engaged in dialogue about the world (or often not even considered to be engaged furthering the lack of validation). So I built a “table” for our people to navigate things on our terms.
5. What is the inspiration behind your podcast and doing what you love?
Julissa: I started @ladieswhobronche as a way to disrupt the traditional engagement of podcasts and invite my Afro-Latinx demographic to have a seat at the table. We then want others, all socioeconomic classes, all races, ethnicities, genders-- any living organism with an opinion to come sit with us for some real talk.
There’s a magic moment that happens when you see someone identify with the content they engage. They feel validated, they listen in more, and they feel like they finally have a seat at the table, even if they live vicariously through the hosts and guests that they’re tuning into. I didn’t have that growing up. I always say I could never fully claim Beyonce or Shakira because I existed in the middle of that spectrum. I don’t want Ladies Who Bronché to simply satisfy my need for Afro-Latinx representation or curiosity for other’s stories. I want to highlight the complexities of everyone’s perspective and create a bridge of understanding. But outside of all the prevalent hot political content, I want to make people laugh, I want to build more communities. I want people to feel proud about their sexual kinks and even more proud about their stance against gentrification. I want the dude who thinks the #metoo movement is a witch hunt to hear the perspective of the girl who never had access to a quality sexual health education and, in the same breath, discover they both share a passion for Cardi B. I want listeners to walk away always knowing that although they don’t always agree with the stories we tell or the people we admire, they at least understand the root of their differences in the most honest way possible.
6. How has your culture and heritage influenced your journey?
SkittLeZ: Culture and Heritage has had a major influence on every piece of content we put out. Our pride in our culture has been the fuel of the majority of our art and content because our main goal is to amplify our stories and the stories of people like us. Julissa and I have been making content that celebrates and comments on our culture and heritage since going viral with “Shit Spanish Girls Say” 8 years ago.
7. What's one lesson you each have learned as entrepreneurs/freelancers which you believe is essential to all of us?
Julissa: You cannot make it if you are not willing to check your ego at the door. And no, I don’t mean checking your confidence at the door, dreaming out loud and not giving a fuck what others think is essential to success. However, ego is the same place where fear, doubt, and imposter syndrome are sourced from. If you can’t heal and check that along the way, it can be detrimental to progress.
SkittLeZ: If you don’t take yourself seriously, no one else will. A lot of times we allow our insecurities to get in the way of our growth. We try to minimize ourselves because we feel intimidated by what we see other people doing. But the moment you confidently invest yourself into whatever project you’re working on, you’ll get out of it what you put into it. The effort will show and people will respect that.
8. How do you nurture your creative spirit and mind when you're facing creative blocks?
Julissa: I go into a state of self reflection because more often than not, the block isn't about the project, it’s about a part of my consciousness that has hardened after being ignored and became a block. Crying and venting usually helps me get clarity so that the inspiration can flow.
SkittLeZ: I think there are two parts to this for me. One is consuming art, and trying to inspire creativity through what already exists. Another is relying on my community, talking creatively with friends and bouncing ideas off of each other and assisting them with their projects. A lot of times simpler ideas can develop into full blown projects once presented to a fresh supportive mind.
9. What is one goal with LADIES WHO BRONCHE that you both hope to accomplish in the next year? Give us the tea…
It’s hard to choose one specific goal for this year because we’ve been hustling and are seeing the fruits of our labor - so continuing that is a definite goal. This year brand ambassadorships, audience building, and recording a season abroad (2021 permitting) are definitely some goals!
10. How can we best support you and your podcast?
Tune in! Engage with us on social media and spread the word! Tell all your friends about the Ladies Who Bronche and invite them to the party! You can tune in at https://anchor.fm/bronche and follow us @LadiesWhoBronche on IG and Youtube, and finally @LadiesBronche on Twitter.