Video: 'Gente-fied,' Web Series Backed by America Ferrera, Uncovers a Changing Boyle Heights


In Boyle Heights, the debate over gentrification has been stewing for over a decade. What isn't as oft-discussed is the phenomenon of "gentefication," which refers to the influx of former locals, or "chipsters," who have returned home with new money and new tastes. The term gentefication, a play on gente, the Spanish word for people, has been kicking around for a while. Here's how Leslie Berestein Rojas of KPCC defined it in 2011:

gen·te·fi·ca·tion (hen-te-fi-k?-shun), noun: The process of upwardly mobile Latinos, typically second-generation and beyond, investing in and returning to the old neighborhood.

While some see gentefication as a means of solidifying the neighborhood's roots, others feel that the results are akin to the effects of gentrification: skyrocketing rent, cryptic stores cropping up on busy thoroughfares, et cetera. "The transition has provided a jolt of energy and a transfusion of money, but it has also created friction with working-class residents here," according to a 2013 New York Times article.

This complex issue serves as fertile grounds for discussions on race, the economy, and generational rifts. And it is now the focus of America Ferrera's latest project, Gente-Fied, a web-series set in the shifting terrain of Boyle Heights. The trailer, which was released today, hints at the issues that will be covered in the series. There is an aging business-owner who is on the cusp of losing his bar. There is a young chef who strives to infuse traditional Mexican dishes with a nouveau flair.

One of the series' overarching goal, as made obvious in the trailer, is to maintain a sense of fidelity to the source. All the leads are played by Latinos, and the trailer promises, "NO CARTELS. NO GUNS. NO DRUGS," a not-so-subtle jab at the portrayals of Latinos in popular media.

Gente-Fied, comprised of seven episodes, was developed by Macro, a media company that focuses on diverse storytelling. The cast includes Ferrera, Alicia Sixtos (of East Los High fame), Art Bonilla, Edsson Morales, and Victoria Ortiz. A release date has not been set yet. For updates, follow the series on Twitter: @gentefied