Everyone has a story, something they want to share with the world…
Stories do something special to humans. They connect us, inspire us, and they have the power to change us. Storytelling really does have some exceptional powers, and Laura Barbosa is well aware of that.
Driven by her mission to create an inclusive representation in the media and to make sure all humans have a chance to share their story, Laura created I Am Miami.
I Am Miami is a short documentary series that features the motivating stories of individuals living in Miami’s distinct population. Giving the everyday person a voice, each episode consists of a different individual, a different story, and their own uniquely insightful message.
“I hope to inspire the everyday person. To show them that everyone matters, regardless of a blue checkmark next to their username.”–Laura Barbosa
Let’s face it, Miami’s population is pretty darn unique. This magical city is full of interesting individuals with extremely diverse backgrounds, and you may be surprised by what these people have to share. And who knows, you may be next…
Laura Barbosa is a multidisciplinary creative, a cultural anthropologist and international journalist. Her contributions to the national news space can be seen in NBC Nightly News, TODAY Show, MSNBC, CNN, and VICE. Her curiosity and boldness have taken her on a journey full of incredible experiences around the world. From covering the refugee crisis in Greece in 2016, to witnessing the Puerto Rican governor protests in 2019, and even covering the devastating Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas.
Using her natural curiosity and experience in video storytelling, Laura brings to light these micro-celebrities that are making an impact just by being themselves. The series is shot in a raw documentary style which has been seen in Laura’s first documentary series, We Are Human, a documentary series produced during the 2016 presidential election. Laura seeks to connect strangers through her work by sharing stories that inspire positivity, reminding viewers of the magic found within each one of us. I had the pleasure to interview her and find out about her story, her passions, her inspirations, and much more.
“It took some time for me to wake up and realize that the only person that was going to tell those stories would be me and I had to get out there and start shooting.”-Laura Barbosa
Have you always wanted to be a journalist? When did you realize that it was the career path that you wanted to take? Tell me your story.
Yes! I was always very communicative as a child and was completely enthralled with pop culture or whatever was trending on TV. I moved from Colombia to a cute little suburban town in Eastern Pennsylvania when I was 6, so I was hyper-aware of things around me from just the sole immigrant survival mode of “fitting in”. I learned English fluently in just about 6 months and carried my love for communication since then. So mix that, with a bit of my natural instinct for curiosity and you get a storyteller. Oh and don’t forget my insane desire for justice and transparency. I always want fairness and equality. Especially when my mother wouldn’t let me do the things my brothers could do.
So it was really natural for me to gravitate towards studying Broadcast Journalism at university and had always had these “ganas” or “desire to achieve” in street translation to English from Spanish. One thing that I did know for sure when getting into this industry is that my goal was to inspire change in the news media climate. I was very aware of the stereotypes and negative content I grew up watching and felt television was the reason why I would second guess my own looks/personality etc. So I set out to create content and tell impactful stories to a nationwide audience.
“One thing that I did know for sure when getting into this industry is that my goal was to inspire change in the news media climate.”
Tell me about your short documentary series: I Am Miami. How did you get started? Who do you hope to inspire?
A couple of months after I moved to Miami from New York City in 2018 I realized the hidden magic of Miami. I was working at the time for a national news network, covering all things breaking news and traveling often for crazy stories. But when I did find the time to connect with the community in Miami, I realized Miami had such a unique population and those people deserved to tell their story.
But like all creative processes, it took some time for me to wake up and realize that the only person that was going to tell those stories would be me and I had to get out there and start shooting.
I hope to inspire the every day person. To show them that everyone matters, regardless of a blue checkmark next to their username.
In the episodes released of I Am Miami you ask your subjects the question: What does Miami mean to you? I’m curious to know what your answer to that question is.
This question touches my heartstrings. Miami means to me beauty. Insane magical beauty. The colors of the sunsets are beautiful pictures in my head I will never erase. To me, there is nothing like the Miami sky, as well as the down to earth humans that live here too.
How did you come up with the title of your documentary series: I Am Miami?
What I can recall, I always knew the concept of the series but picking the name was so knit picky. And I remember just saying out loud different phrases that would summarize my concept. I would flip words between phrases move things around and then I Am Miami stuck. I wanted something with a bit of oomf.
Who is your favorite journalist/reporter? Why?
Yoonj Kim. She’s currently a Social Impact Reporter for MTV News. Before that, she was a news reporter for Playboy. She is so badass! I love her reporting style because it’s very “come take the journey with me” vs “this is what it is and that’s that”. She reports on stories that go beyond the status quo and really uncovers some of our nation’s biggest issues to also covering stories that inspire.
What are your hobbies?
I actually think this quarantine has helped me answer this question better! I love to be outdoors, specifically the beach and swimming. I am a complete new music junkie so I am often searching for my next favorite band/song. Also, I am an abstract painter, you can view my work here. In addition, exercise/yoga is a constant practice in my life. I have also started to read a lot of business/self-development books and adventured to audiobooks which are really handy.
What are some of the biggest challenges that you faced in your journey as a journalist?
My age and people taking me seriously. I have worked side by side with people three times my age and there is sometimes a real disconnect present there. There is a new batch of journalists in the post-boomer age who really find themselves in a fast track in their careers and our peers often don’t take us seriously because of it. Young journalists really come in working ten times as hard to prove themselves, and at the end of their projects, the recognition for their work is very scarce. It’s kind of like a college hazing situation. Really awful.
If you could work with anyone who would it be?
Oprah! I am fascinated by her triumph and ability to push through all the obstacles she faced. I would really love to learn all her tips on how to win in a male-dominated industry.
What is your favorite part of what you do?
I really like the interview process because I can see the characters learning more about themselves in the process. But also I like hearing the finished video and admiring the art of threading the story together through soundbites.
“I really like the interview process because I can see the characters learning more about themselves in the process.”
What is your most memorable career moment?
It would be a tie between covering Puerto Rico’s 2019 protest for their ex-governor Ricky Rossello and covering the devastating Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas. They were both situations that I dove head into, faced many challenges along the way and in the end contributed to telling very humane stories from both sites of turmoil.
If you could let people know anything else about you, what would it be?
The best is yet to come. But I can’t do it without the viewers/consumers. In order to make an impact on the type of content we’re receiving now, the consumer has to start making demands and holding news organizations accountable to create works of positivity.
What’s next for you?
You will definitely get more episodes of I Am Miami with the help of submissions and referrals! But I am also very open to the platform that is currently being created now with COVID. We are seeing everyone stepping into the journalist role and I love that! So I will definitely be participating in a “beyond coronavirus” creative content space where I can really advocate for minority voices and media representation. I am also equipped to aid any individual or company that needs content that resonates and will create community, as these communities are where influence comes from. You can contact me via my website.
I really enjoyed all the episodes you released of I Am Miami, I’m certainly looking forward to seeing the next ones. You use very interesting and diverse characters with inspirational stories. How do you choose your subjects?
So far they have been individuals who I’ve met and inspired the making of I Am Miami or a friend of a friend who’s story perked up my storytelling radar. I really created I Am Miami for the micro-celebrity, the all-day hero. This documentary series is for all individuals not under the everyday spotlight of fame. The people who are our neighbors or the person who you just accidentally bumped into at the store. Who are they? What do they want to tell the world?
Right now I am actually taking submissions for the future episodes of the series. You can email me [email protected]or DM me the submission on @_iammiami.
Please send all relevant social information and where people can find your work. Upcoming events/announcements etc!
Instagram: @lauraalorenna @_iammiami Twitter: @laurabarbosatv Portfolio: laurabarbosatv.comP