Check out our exclusive interview with Jacqueline Pereda, producer, writer, and actress of “GENERATION POR QUÉ?” on HBO Max!
“Generation Por Qué?” is a coming-of-age comedy that follows Jackie Pérez, a first-generation woman pursuing her acting dreams in New York City while enduring her very Cuban parents… who vote conservative and live in New Jersey. Starting off as a short-form web series, “Generation Por Qué?” was a Finalist for the 2017 Sundance New Voices Lab. This year, the program was chosen as an official selection for Series Fest, where Jacqueline was awarded Best Actress in a Comedy and the Caz Matthews Fund (supporting filmmakers who are committed to diversity and the dispelling of stereotypes in storytelling), as well as the Women In Comedy Festival and the LA Comedy Festival. Now the comedy short breaks out onto HBO Latino and HBO Max!
Pereda has a hilarious and all too familiar portrait of her life as a Cuban American that resonates with so many. The short breaks boundaries not only with its subversive comedy and its plot but also because the majority of the cast and crew are children of immigrants themselves, including Pereda (TruTV, A Perfect Murder) Andréa Burns (In the Heights, On Your Feet, Westside Story) Sandor Juan (Burn Notice, Blacklist), Amel Khalil (The Enemy Within, FBI) and Melvin Lima (Blacklist, Bull). The film is executive produced by Dana Zolli (Younger, On the Rocks) and Jacqueline Pereda.
We got a chance to speak with Jacqueline Pereda about the show, check it out below!
The Knockturnal: What inspired you to create “GENERATION POR QUÉ?”
Jacqueline Pereda: My biggest inspiration in creating GENERATION POR QUÉ? is my life. I’m the child of Cuban immigrants and grew up with very strict, conservative parents. I’m also a comedy nerd and adore coming of age comedies like Sex and the City, Insecure, and Broad City. But when I would watch Carrie in bed with Mr. Big, I would literally ask myself, “Where are her parents? Why aren’t they calling her right now and asking if she’s coming home to go to her cousin’s baby shower this weekend?”, because that was my life. Lol! I was shocked by how much freedom and independence these women had in this world because immigrant parents do not roll like that. They are very present and monitoring your every move like the FBI. Seeing that disconnect really compelled me to write a comedy that highlighted a first-generation woman trying to chase her dreams…but her biggest obstacles are her parent’s expectations and having a foot in two worlds; America and Cuba. I also wanted to write an awesome comedy that explored themes of family, coming-of-age, old vs. new world and this story perfectly lent itself to that.
The Knockturnal: Can you talk about writing, producing, and acting in the show? What were some challenges of wearing many different hats?
The Knockturnal: The cast and crew of the show are comprised mostly of children of immigrants. How did you go about constructing such a diverse crew?
Jacqueline Pereda: Most of the actors were immigrants or children of immigrants and connected to the script immediately as it reflected a lot of their experiences, so they were easier to cast, but finding out how diverse the crew was by complete accident! After takes, the crew would be laughing hysterically and saying things like “those are my parents” or relating to Jackie’s struggles being first-gen. Once we got to talking, we realized a lot of the crew were the children of immigrants. One of my favorite moments on set though was when we ran over schedule late one night and our PA’s mom kept calling him; she was worried he hadn’t come home yet. His parents were from Russia and he was like, “See, my parents are like Jackie’s too!” It was very special though – we all understood this story on a very visceral level.
The Knockturnal: What did it feel like to be a part of several film festivals and win awards for the show?
Jacqueline Pereda: It was so wonderful. Being able to write the story I wanted to tell, producing it with my dream cast and crew, and completing it was such a huge accomplishment for me to begin with, but then being recognized by your industry peers and fellow filmmakers? It was the cherry on top! Especially hitting the festival circuit in 2020 when everything was virtual. Not only did it find a wider audience because people had access to the film online, but was able to share something positive and light during a real dark time. It was also the first time I was able to share GENERATION POR QUÉ? with an audience outside of NY/NJ and truly saw how much people connected to it. They would say things like, “I’m not Cuban, but” or “I’m not a child of immigrants, but” then proceed to tell me how much they laughed and related to the story. It really solidified to me that although this story is super specific to the Cuban-American experience, it is so universal. We all have to come of age and reckon with our parent’s origin story no matter where we come from.
The Knockturnal: How do you feel about bringing the show to HBO Latino and streaming on HBO Max?
Jacqueline Pereda: It feels amazing! I have no chill when it comes to containing my excitement about being on HBO Latino and HBO Max. I wrote the words Generation Porque? and HBO on a piece of paper in 2017 because the moment I got the idea, I knew I wanted it to be on the platform. And it’s thrilling that I have the opportunity to share it on HBO Max and HBO Latino. HBO has always been the Olympics of television for me and moving the cultural needle forward with their content. Watching Sex and the City was a huge aha moment for me when I realized there were no parents in their world, so it feels very full circle. Overall, I feel a lot of excitement and gratitude!
The Knockturnal: Can you talk about the cultural significance of the show and why it’s so important to tell these types of stories now?
Jacqueline Pereda: “Right now” is always the right time to tell a story that is burning inside your heart! 🙂 And that was the case for me with this. Generation Porque? is culturally significant because, through a comedic lens, we turn every immigrant and first-gen narrative on its head and don’t hold back on what our lives are really like. Unfortunately, when people hear the word immigrant or child of immigrants in the media, it’s associated with pain but that’s not every experience. I wanted to highlight the beauty, comedy, and privilege it is to be raised in families with two cultures and languages you revere equally. And the defeat that registers in your immigrant parents faces when you tell them you want to be an actress instead of an engineer. But seriously, this story is a love letter to my parents, to following your dreams, and to all of the first-gen kids out there explaining to their parents that people actually pay to go to Burning Man – aka “ that weekend cult in the desert.”
Check out “Generation Por Qué?” on HBO Latino and HBO Max now!