Practice Gratitude. It has been difficult this past year to remain optimistic in the face of so much hardship. During the pandemic, I have increased my prayer and meditation time and started practicing physical rituals to further cement a positive and hopeful attitude physically, mentally, and emotionally.
With the success of the vaccines, we are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel of this difficult period in our history. But before we jump back into the routine of the normal life that we lived in 2019, it would be a shame not to pause to reflect on what we have learned during this time. The social isolation caused by the pandemic really was an opportunity for a collective pause, and a global self-assessment about who we really are, and what we really want in life. With that in mind, I created this series called “5 Things I Learned From The Social Isolation of the COVID19 Pandemic”, and I had the pleasure of interviewing Gabriel Reyes.
Gabriel Reyes is considered one of the pioneers of Hispanic marketing in the Entertainment Industry. He won the Digital Campaign of the Year Award from the Hispanic Public Relations Association (HPRA) as well as a Prism Award from PRSA for Outstanding Multicultural Campaigns for ABC’s Ugly Betty and George Lopez. He also won several MarCom Awards for Creative Excellence in Communications. Reyes has been featured in CNN’s Latino in America as well as in The Hollywood Reporter’s 50 Most Powerful Latinos in Hollywood and in Hispanic Business Magazine’s 100 Most Influential Latinos. www.reyesentertainment.com
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Our readers like to get an idea of who you are and where you came from. Can you tell us a bit about your background? Where do you come from? What are the life experiences that most shaped your current self?
I am Mexican-American, grew up in South Texas, and received a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree from the University of Texas at Austin. I moved to New York City to work as an actor and eventually found public relations as a way for me to influence the way mainstream media refers to Latinos. I started my own PR Agency, Reyes Entertainment, with a focus on the Latino media markets.
The life experiences that have shaped me most have been:
- Overcoming Latino and Gay bias and bigotry growing up.
- Cultivating my need to see the world, after growing up in a small, isolated town.
- Cultivating a sense of fairness and empathy, forged in the fires of disdain and discrimination.
- Cultivating an outsider’s point of view, which I feel is very beneficial in analyzing people and situations.
Are you currently working from home? If so, what has been the biggest adjustment from your previous workplace? Can you please share a story or example?
I am currently working from home but I was already doing so before the pandemic so the adjustment has been minimal. I find the I am more productive working from home as there are fewer distractions. Also, technology makes it much easier to stay connected regardless of location. I can see how many companies will continue having their employees work remotely.
What do you miss most about your pre-COVID lifestyle?
What I miss most about my pre-COVID lifestyle is gathering with people for business or pleasure without worrying about contracting a deadly disease. Living through a pandemic means constant vigilance and the stress or possibly getting sick and not knowing how, where or when. This type of uncertainty can take an emotional and physical toll on our minds and bodies.
The pandemic was really a time for collective self-reflection. What social changes would you like to see as a result of the COVID pandemic?
The pandemic revealed the structural faults in our society. From politics to socioeconomics, many of us are acutely aware of the need for deep transformational change. Social changes I’d like to see:
- Raise the minimum wage;
- Tax reform so large corporations pay their share
- The Green New Deal
- Policing Reform.
- Guaranteed Income
- Male/Female Parental leave.
- Raise teacher’s salaries
- Fair school funding, not based on property taxes.
- Media self-regulation and commitment to stop spreading disinformation.
- Criminal Justice Reform
What if anything, do you think are the unexpected positives of the COVID response? We’d love to hear some stories or examples.
The unexpected positives of the COVID response have been the heroic selflessness of front-line workers and volunteers. The isolation requirements and death toll have also driven people to appreciate their friendships and relationships even more. The economic and social contractions caused by the pandemic will expand again with equal force and I foresee lots of travel and new business openings when the majority of the population has been vaccinated.
How did you deal with the tedium of being locked up indefinitely during the pandemic? Can you share with us a few things you have done to keep your mood up?
I dealt with the tedium of the COVID lockdown by publishing two illustrated books on Amazon. I compiled old pen and ink drawings I had created years ago, colorized them, and compiled them into two different books: Grace, Glamour, and Grit: An Illustrated Anthology of Powerful Women and Time Travelers: A Vampire Story. (LINK BELOW). I also began writing a Communications Manual for the 21st Century and am currently compiling essays and short stories for another book. I’ve also gone back to exercising and dance as a way to keep my body moving since gyms have been closed.
Aside from what we said above, what has been the source of your greatest pain, discomfort, or suffering during this time? How did you cope with it?
The greatest source of pain during the pandemic has been the lack of personal interaction. Even more, than suffering through the loss of business and income, physical isolation has been the hardest to cope with.
OK wonderful. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things I Learned From The Social Isolation of the COVID19 Pandemic? (Please share a story or example for each.)
- Treasure your Relationships. Besides my husband, I’ve only seen 1 or 2 friends on a regular basis during the last year. We’ve grown closer together and I long to see all my friends and family again.
- Practice Gratitude. It has been difficult this past year to remain optimistic in the face of so much hardship. During the pandemic, I have increased my prayer and meditation time and started practicing physical rituals to further cement a positive and hopeful attitude physically, mentally, and emotionally.
- We are All One. Pandemic or no pandemic, if you can help someone, do it. You hear the saying “We Are All One,” but don’t appreciate it until hardship knocks at your door.
- My body is my Temple. Isolation gave me a chance to connect with my physical body on a deeper level. I started cooking more meals with natural and organic ingredients, introducing elixirs and tonics to maximize physical and mental health.
- Our country needs to change. The starkest lesson of the pandemic is realizing how much our country needs transformational change.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you during the pandemic?
“You can never plan the future from the past.” This tenet has taught me to keep looking forward, planning, and feeling optimistic about the future.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.
I would love to spend time with Secretary Pete Buttigieg. Besides being a gay role model, he seems to have such a deep understanding of social and political situations.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this. We wish you continued success and good health.