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Jessica Yañez highlights Latinx experiences through ‘The Wine and Chisme Podcast’

Jessica Yañez highlights Latinx experiences through ‘The Wine and Chisme Podcast’

Jessica Yañez highlights Latinx experiences through ‘The Wine and Chisme Podcast’
March 05
12:00 2020

Jessica Yañez loves three things: wine, cheese and chisme (Spanish for gossip).

In “The Wine and Chisme Podcast,” the UNT alumna and San Diego resident intertwines these three with a passion for highlighting the strengths of her community.

“Currently, there are so many stories being told about people in communities of color by other people,” Yañez said. “I think it’s important that we get to tell our own stories and take the narrative back and show we are contributing to the community as a whole in important and positive ways.”

Every Wednesday, Yañez brings a different member of the Latina community onto the show to talk about their unique experiences over their choice of wine. For her first few interviews, Yañez started with those in her circle but quickly branched out to others through Facebook groups and referrals.

“I don’t like to know too much about who I’m interviewing and don’t over-prepare,” Yañez said. “I send an email with pre-interview questions, review their bio and do some social media digging to get a sense of who they are. If they are a public figure, I will definitely dig a bit more. Ultimately, I want the conversation to be real and my reactions to be genuine.”

Yañez is an alumna of UNT’s Mayborn School of Journalism. She described herself as an “alternative student” as she came back to the school in her thirties to finish her degree.

“I have nothing but love for UNT and my experience there,” Yañez said. “I had wonderful professors who valued my real-world experience and input. I still keep in touch with some of my fellow students and professors, and I wouldn’t change anything during my time there.”

One of her guests, fellow San Diego resident Vanessa Miranda, came on the show to talk about her experiences in the STEM field.

“When you are working in a specific field surrounded by your peers, you don’t often get the chance to discuss statistics of Latinas in STEM, which is 2 percent, or what a hackathon is,” Miranda said.

She and Yañez first connected through organizing a vigil for the victims of the deadly mass shooting in an El Paso Walmart in 2019. 

“That was a blatant and horrifying attack on the Latino community and our hearts were [heavy] in San Diego, as we are a highly Latino community,” Miranda said. “Together with a group of San Diego community leaders we created a beautiful space to honor the victims and their families. We used our resources to create a space to heal.”

Since then, Miranda said she and Yañez have been in the same Latina spaces that amplify their strength as a community.

“We are an economic force, and we both use our social platforms to highlight people achieving and working towards their big dreams,” Miranda said. “Her goal is to showcase how diverse and powerful our community is. We can thrive in any space and her podcast is the tool to share these sources.”

The podcast also serves as a reflection of who Yañez is for Yañez’s sister Erin Cowan.

“Jessica is my sister, so I know firsthand how important connecting with people has always been to her,” Cowan said. “She’s always been extremely outgoing and intrigued by other people’s stories.”

One of the strengths of the podcast, Yañez said, is the quality of the questions she asks those being interviewed.

“We all have a story to tell, we just need to find the story,” Yañez said. “So many people think they have nothing to say but they just aren’t being asked the right questions. I want to help those people find their voice and their story.”

One of her favorite experiences with the podcast was not on the podcast itself, but rather at the launch party when a panel of her first three guests talked about their time on her show, Yañez said.

“I had asked them questions they had never been asked before and they were able to share because I made them feel so safe and comfortable,” Yañez said. “It meant so much because I really strive for that.”

Yañez said throughout her experience of making the podcast, she didn’t realize how emotional she would get.

“I’m putting myself out there in a way I never have, and it can be a scary prospect, but it has truly been a rewarding experience,” Yañez said. “I have experienced joy, fear, excitement and nervousness all at once… [The fact] that more than one person I have interviewed has told me it ended up being a healing experience for them, I honestly had no idea it would have that type of impact and it’s so humbling.”

Courtesy Jessica Yañez-Perez

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Jordan Kidd

Jordan Kidd

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