Wisconsin State Journal: Madison women-, Indigenous-led businesses take part in Packers mentorship initiative

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Wisconsin State Journal | Emilie Heidemann

In order to honor his Indigenous roots, Alejandro Miranda Cruz named his Madison-based film company after the eagle — a symbol of omnipotence for the native Sierra Madre Occidental peoples of Mexico.

The director co-founded Bravebird with producer and partner Noel Miranda in 2015. Since then, the duo has had the goal of bringing the perspectives of underrepresented voices into their projects. Such have included a visual profile of nonprofit Centro Hispano of Dane County, the “Why I Love UW” series and a feature-length film, “Trace The Line,” which depicts four artists navigating the throes of the early pandemic.

This is especially important to Alejandro, having previously pursued an acting career in Los Angeles — he recalled being typecast for delinquent roles, and seeing a lack of diversity on camera and behind the scenes of various productions.

But 2020 was an unkind year to Bravebird, as it was for the rest of the film industry — and for minority-led small businesses in general. Projects dried up and the company’s freelance ecosystem dwindled as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Noel said.

While the health crisis delivered major blows to most small businesses, those owned by people of color were hit hardest, according to an analysis published in April 2021 by the Federal Reserve. Among the 10,000 businesses the Fed surveyed in fall 2020 (all with fewer than 500 employees), 95% said their operations were negatively impacted by the pandemic.