Brenda Gonzalez & Ana Sheila Victorino of the Tamarindo Podcast: “We realized that perfection can’t get in the way of what we want to accomplish”

Before the pandemic, we were so committed to sound quality that we only interviewed guests we could speak to in person. Unable to do that with social distancing, we had to adjust and host remote interviews, even if it meant the sound wasn’t perfect. We realized that perfection can’t get in the way of what […]

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Before the pandemic, we were so committed to sound quality that we only interviewed guests we could speak to in person. Unable to do that with social distancing, we had to adjust and host remote interviews, even if it meant the sound wasn’t perfect. We realized that perfection can’t get in the way of what we want to accomplish.

As a part of our series about women who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Brenda Gonzalez and Ana Sheila Victorino.

Brenda Gonzalez and Ana Sheila Victorino host, the Tamarindo Podcast, a Latinx bi-weekly show where hosts Brenda and Ana Sheila discuss a variety of topics including politics, pop culture, and how to balance it all con calma. Through the show, Gonzalez and Victorino use levity to inform, inspire, and impact their communities. In-depth discussions on identity, race, gender, representation, and life have given the podcast a growing following among the Latinx community.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

Brenda: The Tamarindo Podcast started when I noticed a lack of Latinx-led podcasts talking about politics and pop culture, just ahead of the 2016 election. In a way, it was motivated by the hateful rhetoric against the Latino community coming from the Republican presidential candidate. The project really hit its stride when Ana Sheila Victorino joined as co-host in March 2019. Both Ana Sheila and I are immigrants from Mexico who came to the US with their families when we were four years old. Though we share a similar background, we bring different energies to the show which audiences find relatable and a nice balance.

I’m a political nerd who spent my adult career helping nonprofit organizations thrive, most recently as Director for a Latino civil rights organization. My experience being formerly undocumented for most of my life shaped my interest in politics and helps me bring comical political rants to the show.

Ana Sheila is a queer, well-being enthusiast, recovering “gold-star” chaser, most passionate about helping others live authentic and fulfilling lives. She is a leadership and life coach that imparts her experience and tools onto listeners helping them find their own best versions of themselves. She brings grounding energy and a positive perspective to the show.

Together we are on a mission to inform, impact, and inspire listeners and view Tamarindo as a Latinx empowerment platform bringing voices not often heard on mainstream podcasts. Not finding podcasts that center the Latinx experience while also discussing politics and well-being, Ana Sheila and I created just that with Tamarindo.

Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?

Ana Sheila: Tamarindo is disruptive because we are not afraid to discuss issues that impact our community. From abortion rights to immigration policy, we talk about the ways communities, and especially Black and Brown communities, continue to face oppression and the ways that listeners can be part of the solution. Some examples include raising money for street vendors who were left out of most financial relief available to small business owners, encouraging civic engagement, and we even co-hosted phone banking to get the vote out for Biden/Harris in 2020.

Additionally, we bring the element of “Calma”, a segment I developed where we leave listeners with strategies for personal growth and well-being. We believe self-care can be revolutionary and want our listeners to be well so they can be the best advocates for our community.

Lastly, our approach is authentic, joyful, and often comical. We want to call people in with levity because sometimes things can be so bad structurally that we have to laugh at the absurdity. One show example is a segment where guests can throw something in the trash, or “la basura,” and listeners really get a kick out of that. While we are an English-language podcast, since we bring our authenticity to the show, listeners will hear a little Spanglish to immerse them in our culture. We think the tone of our podcast signals to listeners that this is a space for the millions of us that navigate two cultures, often two languages, and that live in the hyphen. Our insistence on using the term Latinx is also a form of signaling to say that tamarindo is unapologetic about inclusivity and we value all gender identities.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Brenda: As an independent podcast with a DIY attitude, there are a lot of things we had to learn along the way. Once Tamarindo had a following, the service that hosts our show started to offer selling ads on our show to bring in revenue. One thing we didn’t realize is that advertisers actually pay different rates depending on where an ad is placed and when we first sold an ad, we were so excited that we didn’t read the fine print about where the ad needed to be placed. Needless to say, it wasn’t placed correctly and we had to do the ad a second time on the next episode. This was a win for the ad buyer because they scored two ads for the price of one and a lesson for us. It’s all about the details!

We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?

Brenda: My podcast mentor is Julio Ricardo Varela, creator of Latino Rebels and the co-host of In The Thick, a podcast by Maria Hinojosa. From the early days of Tamarindo, Varela has been a champion of Tamarindo giving us advice on growing and sustaining a Latinx podcast. The Latinx podcast world is so much smaller than the mainstream that there really is a sense of collaboration and encouragement which is so refreshing.

Ana Sheila: The Hispanic Heritage Foundation president Tony Tijerino has been a big influence and mentor in my life since I was in high school. From the moment that I won a youth award, and became part of a larger family, he and the organization were not only so supportive. Tony showed me by being a role model how to use your voice and platform in a way that includes, uplifts, and empowers others. The Foundation helped connected youth with opportunities with their network and beyond that, they created the space for me and others to bring our visions to life. Under the program, I created a leadership program for Latina youth that was nominated for a national award.

In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?

Brenda: We are currently living through interesting times in terms of testing systems. The former President and many of his colleagues blatantly lied about a copious amount of topics that ultimately led to the unfortunate and disgraceful insurrection on January 6th, 2021. From “election fraud” in which the courts rejected the claims multiple times, COVID-19 assistance and vaccine distribution, and lack of accountability.

In terms of positive disruption, we think the Black Lives Matter movement and the summer of action we all witnessed in 2020 is an inspiring example. The work to dismantle racists systems continues, but we are encouraged by the number of supporters that the Black Lives Matter movement has galvanized over the years.

Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.

Ana Sheila: Since you’re asking for three words, it’s “Go for it.” This means that we don’t need to wait for perfection to experiment and try new things. Before the pandemic, we were so committed to sound quality that we only interviewed guests we could speak to in person. Unable to do that with social distancing, we had to adjust and host remote interviews, even if it meant the sound wasn’t perfect. We realized that perfection can’t get in the way of what we want to accomplish.

This “Go for it” attitude also lets us try new things like hosting a book club and securing an author we admire to be the guest. We read “Mean” by Myriam Gurba, a queer Chicana disrupter, and had a wildly successful conversation which she described as “superb.” We learned that we’re pretty great at building community virtually and we’re proud of the spaces we’ve created that center Latinx people.

We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?

Brenda:We’ve realized that we don’t have to stay constrained to the current ways in which we use our podcast and platform. We are excited to explore what else we can do virtually and when. It comes time to build off those successes to host more IRL events and collaborations.

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by ‘women disruptors’ that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?

Brenda:In the podcast and radio space, women are criticized for “their voice” in a way that men aren’t. A New Yorker article examining the technological bias that women are up against notes that “women are still receiving the same advice that they were given in the nineteen-twenties: lower the pitch of your voice, and don’t show too much emotion.” We don’t think men are subjected to as much advice about their emotions the way women are.

Do you have a book/podcast/talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us?

Ana Shiela: A podcast we both admire is Still Processing by two culture writers at the New York Times who happen to also be Black and queer. We are inspired by their thoughtful analysis of current events and culture that’s enveloped in relatable and funny conversations. Another podcast we love is Code Switch which discusses race in an urgent and important way, while also being entertaining. Something humbling is that our podcast has been listed alongside these two phenomenal podcasts on listicles including Oprah Magazine and CNN.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Brenda: We want to inspire folks to be engaged in our democracy because we know that when more of us are, we can be the voice on policies. If more of us felt inspired to vote, to run for office, to advocate for what is right, then we can build the country we want to see. We want everyone to have good jobs with benefits, an affordable place to live, a clean planet, and the ability to pursue their dreams. We want an economic system that is rooted in justice and rewards fairly.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Ana Sheila: Don’t let “que va decir la gente” (what other people say) get in the way of your dreams. From a very young age, we spend a lot of our life trying to be accepted, do what will please others, and in the process, we often lose sight of what actually fills our cup and our soul. Many of us choose careers for external and superficial validation rather than meaning and fulfillment. Our adult selves then often have to go through a self-journey to reconnect with our true selves and true passions. We’ve both been through that journey and our podcast and platform are a reflection of that reconnection with self.

How can our readers follow you online?

Brenda:Tamarindo Podcast is available wherever podcasts can be listened to and at Our Instagram is tamarindopodcast and our Twitter is tamarindocast

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

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