Millennial Spotlight, Liz Magallanes
Meet Liz Magallanes
Photography: Tony Franklin
A native of Ciudad Juarez Chihuahua, Mexico, Liz Magallanes came to the U.S. with her mother when she was seven years old. Growing up she lived everywhere from the suburbs of Richardson to East Dallas. She lives to serve and build power alongside low to moderate income communities of color, and immigrants to ensure their rights are secured. She works closely with Latino and allied communities to bring justice through empowerment, and civic engagement. She has done this in different capacities- as an organizer, activist, legal assistant, and actress, by means of grassroots organizing, advocacy, legal services, and the arts. She has also worked intersectionally with local organizations, and nationally with United We Dream, to connect the issues impacting communities of color and other marginalized communities to effect social change. As a student of Drama she also strives to incorporate these voices in the arts. She did this through her role in Cara Mía Theatre’s production of Deferred Action, which toured Texas, and was presented at Encuentro De Las Americas 2017, an international theatre festival that brings companies from across the Americas together in Los Angeles. She is also featured in Crossed, a documentary in which she navigates the complexities of being an immigrant in this moment in history, told through the lens of her journey from artist to activist.
Follow Liz on Social Media…
Facebook: Personal page- Liz Magallanes
Facebook: Crossed Documentary Page- Crossed doc film
How did you get started in this industry? What was the inspiration behind pursuing your passion?
I have always been drawn to the arts, in large part because my family always encouraged me to be happy and enjoy life, which for us meant expressing it through dancing, song, theater and any other form. So I always felt a deep connection to the arts, particularly drama because I recognized early on that this was one of the purest forms of expressing truth. From the moment I realized that playing pretend could be a career, I knew that is what I was meant to do. I knew what I wanted to do with my life and exactly what I needed to do to achieve it. But it was in high school that I realized that it was a bit more complex than that. There was something that set me apart from my peers, I was undocumented.
As many immigrant youth who grow up in the U.S. undocumented, I experienced a whirlwind of things, beginning with confusion about what this meant for the future I envisioned. Thankfully I was blessed to encounter other immigrant youth who were already advocating for themselves and their communities, even when they were told that what they were demanding was impossible. The immigrant youth movement completely changed my outlook. This is when I decided that there could be a convergence of my craft and the uplifting of the voices of my community, through art, in telling the stories of my people authentically and by connecting them with the resources to make their voice heard at every level of society.
Please share your long-term goals?
I hope to continue to develop the idea that was sparked by my experience in working toward social change, by using the mediums of film, television, and theater to tell the stories of the people in society who make a difference and often go unrecognized or are purposely marginalized. The stories of people like my parents and so many other immigrants and people of color who though they encounter more than their fair share of challenges are incredibly resilient. I hope to be able to show the undeniable truth of people as people, not as sides of an issue. Because now more than ever it is crucial that the humanity in each person be recognized, especially those who are not traditionally given a platform to speak out.
What does it mean to you to be a millennial in this generation?
To be a millennial in this historical moment is exciting and also a big responsibility. Being uber connected as a society has undoubtedly united us in unprecedented ways, as has been seen in recent years with many social movements building power in communities that have been historically marginalized. We have an opportunity as a generation to draw out the good in others, by looking at the things that unite us above everything else. I hope that the stories of millennials all over can serve as testimony that no matter what path we choose, whether it be in the arts, politics, sports, business, or any other, there is always an opportunity to reach those who are in need, by reminding the world that every human being deserves dignity and respect, simply by virtue of their humanity. Being a millennial is being empowered by the journeys of those who came before us, recognizing that because of their sacrifices we can be successful in making the world we envision a reality. I truly believe this can be achieved through unity.