We had the good fortune of connecting with Natalia Castells-Esquivel and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Natalia, how do you think about risk?
When I was 21, I moved to New York City with $30 in my pocket. That summer saved my life. When I was 26, I moved to LA on a whim “for a year” because I was in love with a girl and because LA had really good tacos al pastor. This city has now been my home for over six years. And when I was 28, I dropped a stable career in advertising for a writers’ assistant job that paid half my salary. I’m now a TV/film writer — the career of my dreams. I’ve taken insane risks. The tattoo I got in Costa Rica for $100 was *maybe* not a great one. But most others have paid off beyond my wildest dreams.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I pretty much always knew I wanted to be a writer. But I wasn’t super focused on a specific type of writing — as long as there were words involved, I was in. So I started with poems and short stories as a kid. In college I moved on to personal essays. And then luck landed me in advertising, where I learned to write radio, TV, and print ads… The dream to write a novel is always at the back of my head, but these days, I’m *very* fortunate to write for TV and film. I suppose I just love telling stories (ask any of my friends, I NEVER shut up!) so it’s exciting that I’ve found myself in Hollywood. (How I got here is a story of its own, but one for another day. I’ll just say it involves hundreds of emails, a fairy godfather, and an essay about my move to the United States.) It’s no secret that the industry has struggled to elevate marginalized voices and support representation, but I’ve been fortunate to work with outstanding humans who are truly championing diversity and the kinds of stories I want to tell — genre-agnostic feminist, queer, Latine, immigrant, magical stories. I feel heard. I feel like I have a voice. And that’s an amazing thing! These days, I have a pilot set up at Disney+ and one at Netflix, both featuring badass Mexican women and three-dimensional queer characters. I’m proud of those achievements. But what has become crystal clear along the way is that I wouldn’t be where I am if I wasn’t surrounded by a fantastic team, caring mentors, and, of course, loving friends and family. And Taco, my dog.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
This is in Atlanta, right? If so, here’s my perfect ATL day:

Start the morning with an iced matcha latte (oat milk, duh!) from Victory, the one on Dekalb.
Walk around Oakland Cemetery while you finish it.

Head over to Ria’s for brunch. Drool.

Walk off the food on the Beltline — take it all the way to Piedmont Park. OR go to Downtown Decatur and walk around Agnes Scott College, my alma mater. Then get some rest, before…

Dinner: Oh man, so many to choose from… Okay. Gaja in EAV is a really good one, and then you can get some post-din drinks at —

Mary’s! for some quality queer fun. 🙂

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I’d like to dedicate my shoutout to my mom, Rita. I was about seven or eight when I wrote my very first short story, “Mathematical Aliens In My Back Yard.” I showed my mom and told her I’d made up my mind: “When I grow up, I want to be a writer.” She, however, told me I already *was* a writer. It was a powerful sentiment. That one sentence set me on a beautiful path — writing wasn’t something I had to chase, it was already part of me. She’s since been my biggest supporter and fan, and I will be forever thankful.

Instagram: @castellsita

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/natalia-castells-esquivel/

Image Credits
For the main photo, the black and white portrait: Photo by Kelly Strawinski

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