Ashley Soto Paniagua and Dani Adaliz are the biracial Afro-Puerto Rican creators and leads of the series Chuchi and Adaliz, a buddy comedy about the ending of a childhood friendship. They have both carved their own paths in the media and entertainment world, Ashley with credits in shows like Vida (Starz) and The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder (Disney+) and Dani with experience in the hilarious Mitu and Pero Like videos on Buzzfeed and on stage doing standup comedy and improv. The specific and shared racial identity between Ashley and Dani is also represented in Chuchi and Adaliz, as their characters interrogate what it means to be biracial in this SXSW-featured series.
Chuchi and Adaliz is a show about a friendship breakup. When Adaliz gets caught insider trading, she is fired from her cushy job in San Francisco and has to return home to Oakland with her tail between her legs. Once back in Oakland, she moves in with her childhood best friend, Chuchi. They soon learn that adult friendship is a lot different than childhood friendship and discover there are some things that can’t be worked around. Chuchi and Adaliz explores the specific culture of adult women friendships and how they can fall apart. Showrunner, Ashley Soto Paniagua said that friendship breakups hurt more than romantic breakups, and if you’ve ever lost a friendship then you know what she’s talking about. It hurts!
SXSW was the first festival for these two trailblazers and they were delighted by what they found waiting for them: community, representation, and amazing reviews of the Chuchi and Adaliz pilot! The festival was also as fun as it was affirming. Dani described it as “Cannes for goofy people” and Ashley was happy to find people who loved watching TV as much as she did, being able to do nothing but watch shows and mingle with other creatives for ten days.
To see that the market is full of us, that was really exciting for me.Ashley Soto Paniagua
Chuchi and Adaliz was well-received at SXSW with audience members sharing they felt seen and represented. The show was also in good company with other Latine and Afro-Latine representation, which both Ashley and Dani said was a wonderful surprise and very encouraging. Ashley described going to SXSW as kind of peering into the film market and seeing what was possible and sought after – including Latine stories. And, thankfully, of the six or seven Latine shows in the festival, three of them had Afro-Latine representation, which was very encouraging for the Chuchi and Adaliz crew. All the Latine creators fiercely supported one another, happy to see so many of our stories at such a huge festival.
Chuchi and Adaliz was also Ashley’s first time being a showrunner and she said it felt good not to need permission to tell her story how she wanted to. After never seeing representation of their particular upbringing, Ashley and Dani brought Chuchi and Adaliz to life. Dani admitted she was a little scared at first of being a “multi-hyphenate” having to write, direct, and act but she surprised herself, seeing just what she is capable of and giving herself the courage to go for more!
We have lots of nuance in there, lots of things that haven’t been explored in the media and haven’t been explored in entertainment, that isn’t for the white gaze. It’s for us.Dani Adaliz
Chuchi and Adaliz also gave Ashley and Dani the platform to open a conversation on what biraciality is and how race essentialism has often kept them from feeling fully accepted into one group or another – not because of their own sense of identity but because society questions them at every turn. Whether it is being asked to show a picture of a Black parent to prove their Blackness, or being told they look “normal” instead of Black, or being included in thinly veiled racist conversations and language because the people around them are unaware that they are Black. Chuchi and Adaliz explicitly talks about biracial people’s racial presentation and how they look different depending on the time of day, the way their hair is done, their time in the sun, and a plethora of other factors.
I didn’t have to get permission to tell my story, because I just decided I would.Ashley Soto Paniagua
Chuchi and Adaliz may be a comedy, but it tackles the very serious issues of racial and ethnic identity, socio-economic differences between cities within the same state, and what it means to be part or outside of a group. It also explores how all of these stressors take a toll on people and their relationships, in this case, a childhood friendship. The show makes room for Afro-Latine and biracial people to be cringey, including being oblivious because of their proximity to whiteness, as well as making huge mistakes, having fun, and being wild and weird. Chuchi and Adaliz explores all the ways we can be human.
After my wonderful conversation with Ashley and Dani, I am beyond excited for Chuchi and Adaliz and if you like friendship, fun, and characters with texture, you should be too! Be sure to follow the Chuchi and Adaliz Instagram page @chuchiandadaliz for updates on the public release of this future sensation!