Film
Photo courtesy of Madelyn Bonilla

Madelyn Bonilla On Being The AfroLatina Representation Her Younger Self Needed

Bonilla, the founder of online community Brown Narrativ, spoke with us about how her experiences as an AfroLatina woman in NYC’s Bronx led her to write and direct her debut film, Pajón.

Madelyn Bonilla is dedicated to being the person she needed when she was growing up.

The former forensic science researcher-turned-advertising guru was born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, and raised in the Bronx, New York - or, “where Hip-Hop was bred”, as she puts it. Growing up in a typically Latinx family, community, and neighborhood, Bonilla knew that there was so much more of herself to discover, as her interests in Black culture shaped a lot of her life. It wasn’t until her early 20s that she started to allow herself to explore her identity as an AfroLatina woman. The first to do so in her family, Bonilla faced – and still faces – scrutiny and shaming from the Latinx community at large, but also from her own loved ones. Comments like, “Your hair looks messy” or, “Your hair’s not combed” when Bonilla first began rocking her natural curls truly mirrored the thoughts and opinions of those around her, too. Her experiences as an AfroLatina woman are the experiences so many face, as they try to get to the root of their own roots.

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