Latin Times Interview with Brenda Herrera and Jasmin Espada
Latin Times Magazine: Tell us about your Family Background and history
Brenda Herrera: I was born in San Jose, California and moved to west Los Angeles when my dad got accepted into UCLA’s graduate program. Growing up, my parents were very strict with my older sister and me, which I didn’t like at the time, but later grew to understand and appreciate. Their expectations of us were always very high and they provided us with all the tools, resources and opportunities to succeed in life so there was never any reason or excuse for failure. This taught me self-worth and the value of hard work and discipline and for that I’m grateful. My parents have been married for 46 years and I have 2 sisters and a brother. And while I don’t have any children of my own, I enjoy spending time with my 2 nieces and my nephew.
Jasmin Espada: I grew up in the small town of Salinas, Puerto Rico population 6,000. The kind of town where everyone knows you. My dad was a mechanic and Harley Davidson enthusiast. My mom was an English teacher who became a lawyer and then one of the first female judges to reach the Superior Court. As you can see from my Dad I learned that you could build anything you wanted. From my mom I learned failure was not an option. My younger sister is a pilot and so is my soon to be brother in law. I have two amazing daughters. One is known simply as JORJI, an up and coming model and Tatiana who dreams of becoming a fashion designer. Those two keep me focused and have a knack for stealing my thunder. They are experts at the “Mom, please stop” look when I do something I think is cool but they don’t. My favorite is when I show them a cool video on YouTube just to hear “Mom, that’s two years old.” Kids are always up to the task of letting you know you are not as cool as you may think.
Latin Times Magazine: What inspired you to be a major Publicist for Hollywood’s most famous Latinos?
Brenda Herrera: It wasn’t something I planned, it was just something I fell into after years of experience working in entertainment, the opportunity to do publicity came to me through a publicist friend who offered me a position at the agency she worked for and I didn’t think twice about taking it and I’m glad I did because I truly love what I do and I’m inspired everyday by securing new clients, working on new projects and the opportunities to expand our business.
Jasmin Espada: Working with actors such as Esai Morales and Ivonne Coll for as as long as I have, more than inspiration is constant growth, a constant learning experience. But we also laugh a lot. You have to be able to find humor in what we do.
Latin Times Magazine: How does it feel to be named two of the industry’s leading publicists and Hollywood’s most powerful Latinas?
Brenda Herrera: It’s an honor to be included in the LA Times Diverse 100 among so many talented individuals. As publicists, it’s our job to make our clients shine and we are just quietly in the background pulling the strings to make that happen. It’s a thankless job and one that many don’t recognize the value in what we do, so to be recognized for all our hard work is an incredible feeling!
Jasmin Espada: The Los Angeles Times recognition was very humbling. I see it as an opportunity as a Latina publicist working in Hollywood to hopefully inspire young people and lead by example. It is time we end the long running lip service from the studios about Latinos and really give our talent the roles they deserve. Our talent is ready.
Latin Times Magazine: Tell us one of the funniest moments you have experienced with an Actor?
Brenda Herrera: I was with Esai in an elevator, and a middle-eastern man walked in. Esai knew a little Farsi that he decided to use at that moment. He said something to the man in Farsi which I did not understand and the man gave him a crazy look and ran out of the elevator. I asked Esai what he said to the man and he said he told him the first thing that came to mind and that was, “what are you looking at”? He didn’t mean to be rude, but that was the only phrase in Farsi that he could think of at that moment. When he realized that the man probably got offended, he felt terrible and tried going after him to explain and apologize but the man was already gone. So for the next half an hour, Esai made me drive around looking for the man so he could apologize to him. It was one of those times you wish you had a video camera.
Jasmin Espada: I’ve had many funny moments in my career. However this one happened many years before I became a publicist. While a college student I did an internship at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston during the Robert Maplethorpe exhibit. We were told Paul Newman was going to be visiting that day with his wife Joanne Woodward. I was young and clueless and completely missed them getting in. So there I was minding my own business when all of a sudden Paul Newman comes to me and says “Honey, do you have a Kleenex?” It was a surreal experience. From all the people there he went directly to me. It is almost like he knew I was going to be a Hollywood publicist somehow when I didn’t even know it myself.
Latin Times Magazine: What is your favorite Latin food and do you love Cuban Sandwiches?
Brenda Herrera: I love all Latin food but if I had to choose a favorite, I would have to say my mom’s chicken mole. I do love Cuban sandwiches especially the Cuban sandwich from Portos Cuban Bakery.
Jasmin Espada: At the risk of getting my interview cut short I am a vegetarian trying very hard to become vegan, however when I did eat meat, Cuban sandwiches were a favorite.
Latin Times Magazine: What Advice can you give young Latino Publicists and actors:
Brenda Herrera: I would say, just follow your heart. Don’t do anything for any other reason but for the love of it. If you ‘re an actor, you should do it for the art of it not because you want to be a celebrity. We see it all the time, real actors stay out of the spotlight and work everyday at honing their craft, but wanna-be actors don’t want to do the work to be a great actor, they just want to be photographed on the red carpet because all they really care about is being famous. If you’re a publicist starting out, ask yourself, what are you passionate about? If your answer is Publicity, then you’re on the right track. It may look like a fun job (which it can be), but the truth is it’s a lot of hard work, long hours and at times, very stressful. So you really have to have thick skin and really love what you do, otherwise, you will not be successful.
Jasmin Espada: If you love the art of communication I suggest you read two books. One is Effective Public Relations by Cutlip & Center (First edition) and the other is How to Make Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. Those two books summarize in beautiful precision what public relations is. If you are really passionate about becoming a publicist do an internship at Espada Herrera & Associates. You will learn a lot. I started working with Communications since I was at UMASS Boston. My first on campus job was Assistant to the Student Trustee. That gave me (and a group of selected friends) access to a lot of private receptions with the top brass of the University. It also taught me a lot about the world of public relations. Celebrities and VIPs alike trusted me. It was like a domino effect. Celebrities are a very specific public which requires special handling. I have always respected and honored their talent so they recognized I was there to help bring their talent to the attention of the media. I started working with Latino talent and it was a natural progression.
Latin Times Magazine: Who has been your inspiration and hero?
Brenda Herrera: My parents are my biggest inspiration because despite the challenges that many immigrants face coming to a foreign country, not knowing the language and starting a new life, they have become successful business owners and published writers and still continue to strive for more everyday.
Jasmin Espada: I’ve had many inspirations in my life ranging from my mom to Nelson Mandela. But if I had to choose one I would say Gautama Siddarta better known as Buddha. Like other spiritual leaders, he promoted a message of peace and gave us a glimpse of a higher love.