Actress, Producer, Director, Writer, Comedienne
ABOUT: “My whole thing with the arts is that I love the whole process of creating something from nothing,” declares Rhina Valentin. As the self-styled “Latina Oprah”, Rhina-- also known by her royal moniker, El Reina del Barrio-- is involved in a number of artistic ventures in the neighborhood, including acting, producing, writing, and dancing. Her influence is not limited to her onscreen presence, however; perhaps unusually for an artist, Rhina is also heavily involved in the business and technical aspects of her projects. This may be a sign of her times. Rhina is part of a younger generation of artists that embraces the diversity and the incredibly fast pace of change in El Barrio these days-- rather than running from the wave of change, she is embracing it, seeing an opportunity for her to “contribute to the culture” of the neighborhood. “We have a generation that is bursting with knowledge and that is really looking to be entertained [by] what we call entertainment,” she asserts. “I want to rep exactly what is in our generation.”
COMMUNITY VISIONS: “I think that something happened when we left AHA [the Association of Hispanic Artists]”, says Valentin. “There needs to be some type of association where everybody is brought to the table... [an association] that really, truly reps El Barrio.” What type of association? “Not a community board, but a resource for artists” that informs and represents them fairly. Valentin is also adamant that El Barrio must accommodate the new, younger generation of artists making their mark on the neighborhood: “there needs to be a mentorship program where the older generation takes the younger generation-- my generation-- under their wing.” She notes that the current arts programming in the neighborhood is somewhat “outdated”... El Barrio needs to adapt so that the generational gap in the arts community becomes a source of creative energy, not conflict.