Paola Mendoza talks fighting injustice with theSkimm | theSkimm
Paola Mendoza Hero

One-on-One with theSkimm is a chance to introduce some of the incredible women in our community making an impact in the world. We'll be showcasing Skimm'rs from a variety of careers, religions, cultures, and political beliefs. This month for Hispanic Heritage Month, we're highlighting women making a difference in the Hispanic-Latino community and beyond. 

What’s your story, Skimm’d…

I was born in Bogotá, Colombia. I came to the states when I was a kid. My father abandoned us a few months after we arrived. My mom made miracles happen every day. She never gave up, even when we were homeless, when were on welfare or when we went to bed hungry. She always knew that tomorrow would be better, that tomorrow she would find a way. Twenty plus years later we found our way. I’m a filmmaker, author, activist and mom. I fight everyday against injustice. I fight for immigrants. I fight for poor people. I fight for women. I fight against Trump and white supremacy because if I don’t my story will no longer be possible in this country. 

What are you normally doing at 2pm…

Every day is completely different. I might be answering emails or posting on Instagram about immigration or on a call planning my next trip down to the border. 

A lesson you’ve learned from a bad boss…

Don’t let them change you.

Your superpower in one word…

Compassion.  

What meeting or project do you always look forward to…

I always look forward to telling the stories of immigrants. In today’s America, immigrants have been vilified. I love shining a light on immigrants’ strength and their inspiring stories of love and sacrifice. Telling the stories of immigrants, migrants and refugees is how I fight against the hate that is invading this country. 

What keeps you up at night…

Injustice.

Plastics in our oceans. 

Mass shootings in America. 

Who do you look up to in your industry…

There are so many amazing artists using their art to change this world for the better. It’s hard to name just a few but here goes…

Someone you wish got more mainstream recognition…

All the artists I mentioned above. They are brilliant!

Something you could be better at (at work or in life)... 

Listening when I’m upset. 

What were you like as a kid…

I was a wild child. I did what I wanted, how I wanted and when I wanted. I ran with the boys. I was all tomboy. I was an athlete. I was sassy and got into a lot of trouble because of it. But I was nice to everyone. 

At a dinner party, are you instigating a heated discussion or running for the wine…

I’ll instigate a very heated discussion with a bottle of wine in my hand.

What is the biggest misconception about you…

People mistake my intensity for anger. I’m intense when I work. My work requires it. This misconception used to bother me but now I’m like whatever. I got work to do...let’s get it done!

What does Hispanic Heritage Month mean to you…

I’m Latina every day of my life. I’ve experienced the beauty of being a Latina in this country and I’ve experienced the racism of being Latina here. Hispanic Heritage Month feels like a month for others rather than for myself. I celebrate my culture every day. I celebrate my history every day. I celebrate my community every day. I wish more non-Latinos would as well. 

What issue is most important to you in the 2020 election…

Immigration, gun reforms, and climate. 

What does success mean to you…

Making sure Trump isn’t re-elected.

Advice you would give to someone looking to get into your field…

We need all the help we can get. Don’t wait for the perfect time. The time is now. Your voice is important. Your ideas are critical. 

PS: Have someone in mind you think we should feature? Let us know here.

Note: This interview has been edited for length. All opinions expressed by the interviewee are their own.