‘VOICES’ showcase spotlights local Latinx and Indigenous artists and performers


“Group of Performers during VOICES Latinx Indigenous Artists Showcase.” Photo Courtesy of Asha Johnson.

Asha Johnson, Community News Reporter

Growing up as a Mexican and Black child in Inglewood, Derrick Paris said he noticed that people like him rarely got opportunities to perform or engage seriously in the arts.

Paris has had a love for musical theater and dance since he was young, and he has continued to pursue the arts throughout college.

He remembers traveling to Eastside Los Angeles every day as a kid to participate in the Dance and Drill team. 

“I saw all these kids who were not marginalized getting opportunities that I wasn’t and I was so confused as to why I wasn’t. In the community I lived in, there were no dance studios, they weren’t advertised to us because we supposedly couldn’t afford it,” Paris, the director, and producer of VOICES said. “I had to realize that I need to make my own platform if I want to be seen and to be heard because no one’s going to do it for me. So, I think that’s been the coolest part of it all.”

The sold-out “VOICES: Latinx Indigenous Artists Showcase” was created to celebrate the local Latinx and Indigenous talent who otherwise may not get the opportunity. This was the fourth “VOICES” event, following the previous showcases that were held for black artists, Asian American and Pacific Islander artists, and queer artists.

The event happened last month at the performing arts theater, Stomping Ground LA, in El Sereno. About 100 people attended in person. It featured four films and 16 live performances, which included dance, music, and various demonstrations. It was also live-streamed for those who could not get tickets. 

“A lot of the performances really stuck with me. You could see how much effort and emotion they put into them,” said Aysha Cunningham, a college student who found out about the event through a friend. Cunningham described a particular performance, in which the performer danced behind a white sheet giving the effect of a shadow, as powerful and emotion-provoking. 

Members of the audience like Elena Bruce, a college student, said the performances resonated with her because of the diversity and representation. 

“I really enjoyed getting to see a diverse group of people perform and showcase their artistry,” Bruce said. 

Vinnie Ta, another college student, said they attended the event to support a friend that was performing in the show and would consider attending another one.

“I liked how there was dance, music, and film. It was nice to see a wide range of artists,” Ta said.

Next year, four “VOICES” showcases will be held for Black, AAPI, queer, Latinx, and Indigenous artists. 

Paris said his goal for “VOICES” is to give marginalized communities a platform to share their work and that is what has happened.

“I think there’s a lot of joy in this. It is community-driven and low-stakes. It’s a chance for you to share your art no matter what state it’s in,” Paris said. “You can come have fun, maybe get your name out there if you want to, or just try something you’ve never tried before. Why not do that when it’s all about you for the evening?”