By Kerensa Cadenas
June 10, 2019 at 01:30 PM EDT

Creator Tanya Saracho may be Vida’s fearless leader, but as the series barreled toward filming its upcoming season 2 finale, she was terrified. Saracho was directing an episode for the first time, and there was a bathroom sex scene that had her particularly stressed. “We workshopped it on the sidewalk first. I was like, ‘Ladies, I was thinking you slide down the wall,’ ” says Saracho, whose series follows the Hernandez sisters — Emma (Mishel Prada) and Lyn (Melissa Barrera) — and has been celebrated for its queer Latinx characters. “Then when we got in that tiny bathroom, with Ava [Berkofsky, cinematographer] being queer, with me being queer, with our first AD being queer, with our second AD being queer…. We were all these queers molding this story we never get to tell.”

Vida Season 2, Episode 1 Lyn (Melissa Barrera), Emma (Mishel Prada) CR: Kat Marcinowski/Starz
Credit: Kat Marcinowski/Starz

In a Hollywood landscape where it’s still rare to find diverse writers’ rooms, Vida stands out with 11 Latinx writers in total: nine women and two men. Four of them identify as LGBTQ. And the personal experience each brings to the room has led to some very specific — and sometimes heated — conversations. “There was a scene in episode 3 where Cruz [Maria Elena Laas] lines up a bunch of sex toys and they all have condoms on them. And there was a huge fight within the room because some women said, ‘Why would you use condoms on sex toys?’ while other women were like, ‘You’re not gonna buy sex toys every single time. They’re expensive,’ ” says writer Gladys Rodriguez. “It was such a weird conversation that you would never probably have in any other room.”

Vida BTS Season 1, Episode 1 Lyn (Melissa Barrera), Emma (Mishel Prada) and Tanya Saracho on set CR: Starz
Credit: Starz

While that particular detail was left to the group to flesh out, there was another moment in the same episode that the creator felt compelled to craft herself: a speech in which Emma reflects on her label-defying sexual identity. “My last partner was a cis male, but I’m queer and I get so much s—,” Saracho says of the real-life parallels between her and Emma. “I get called ‘tourist’ all the time. I was like, ‘It’s time we had the talk on television about how our own people police us.’” Saracho’s passion paid off. When the scene played at the Tribeca Film Festival in early May, “people were cheering,” recalls Prada. “When you have a writers’ room that has more than one queer person speaking on behalf of everyone, you get to really hear their experiences and their conversations,” says the actress. “I feel so lucky to have that.”

Related Content: