Ben Dejesús, founder of film and TV production studio NGL Studios, got the call Jan. 12. Executive producers Eva Longoria and Henry Muñoz wanted him to produce several segments for the official “Latino Inaugural 2021: Inheritance, Resilience and Promise Special” that aired Jan. 19 on Peacock, Telemundo and Univision.
Dejesús — who cofounded the NGL Collective and whose partners include John Leguizamo — has devoted 15 years to Latin storytelling, including entertainment and music. Producing material for a presidential inauguration, however, was special. All told, he produced five segments, ranging from 36 seconds to over five minutes, which show the faces and experiences of regular Latinos in the United States.
This is how it happened.
This was an extremely fast job. How did you do it?
They contacted me last Tuesday night. I was already working with [architect and activist] Henry Muñoz, and then they called me. We had five days. We got the job on Wednesday, we shot on Thursday, and we had edit rooms going in Miami, New York and Los Angeles. We basically worked 24 hours a day until delivery.
What was the biggest challenge?
The time. And the request for it to be something really meaningful and impactful. When you shoot a documentary you have months and years. But the biggest opportunity was to tell stories that really matter and elevate the Latin experience. We had to create everything from scratch.
One of the segments, “The Inheritance,” was all about some of the things that will eventually be housed in the Smithsonian American Latino Museum [which has not yet opened]. We were in contact immediately with the Smithsonian Institute and they suggested people for us to talk to.
What do you wish you would had time to show?
Just continue to shine a light on Latino essential heroes. There’s always a desire to do more, and to highlight people that aren’t household names.
How significant is this project for you?
This is a huge honor. I feel like our mission as storytellers is to continue highlighting and celebrating Latinos and our contributions, whether in non scripted or branded content. And to collaborate with Eva Longoria’s team and Henry Muñoz is a huge honor.