Rising Through the Ranks: Raul Martin of VIDA
August 1, 2019
Raul Martin never saw himself in the characters he watched in film and television. As a nearly seven-foot-tall LGBTQ Spanish man in his late thirties, Martin yearned to see himself—along with other minorities—represented in entertainment. Since finding his footing in Hollywood, he plans to make that happen.
Martin’s journey began in 2011, when he immigrated to the United States as a visiting teacher. An English major and aspiring writer, Martin was ecstatic to relocate to Los Angeles, where he would make a living teaching full-time while pursuing his passion for writing on the side.
“But once I got my Green Card in 2015, I quit teaching and decided to pursue writing full-time,” Martin says. He began taking workshops and attended networking events in order to create a network in Hollywood.
“At one of the workshops I attended, I met my mentor, Mando Alvarado. He heard my pitch and loved it. I told him if he ever needed anything to call me, and he did, two weeks later,” Martin recalls.
Martin became Alvarado’s assistant, working for the writer-producer-actor for over a year and a half. In 2017, Alvarado was hired as a producer on the Starz original series, Vida. A year later, when the show was gearing up for its second season and needed a writer’s PA, Alvarado called on his mentee, Martin.
“Working on that second season felt like a master’s degree in television,” Martin says. “When I started working for Vida is when I truly learned the business.”
Martin took full advantage of the opportunity by going from a writer’s PA to a showrunner’s assistant and ending up as script coordinator, all within a year.
“I just did my job to the best of my ability,” Martin says. “If I had to clean or get coffee, I would. I was always there.”
Each role introduced Martin to varying aspects of the industry. As a writer’s PA, he helped the writers ‘outside of the room’ by taking care of the office space and making sure lunch was on time. As the showrunner’s assistant to Tanya Saracho, he was charged with managing her schedule, organizing her calendar, and supporting her in all aspects of her job.
“I learned a lot of organizational skills, a little bit of PR, and handling a calendar,” Martin says. “Every department had to deal with her, so they went through me and you have to have certain skills to communicate with different departments and inform Tanya at the most appropriate time.”
At the end of June 2019, Martin was promoted once again, this time to script coordinator, a role that has him working directly with the writers and Vida’s scripts.
“I need to know the format of the show and the bible of the show,” Martin says. “And I need to know it well, so that when writers send scripts for scenes, I can put them together in the correct format. If there is a question during the writing process or production that involves something happening in the script or scenes, I need to know the answer because I’m the one in charge.”
“Formatting, proofreading and making sure scripts are overall ready are part of my job,” Martin says. “Every time there is a new version of the script, I am in charge of replacing it.”
It’s an immense amount of responsibility, but no less than the responsibility that weighs on Martin daily. Martin feels an obligation to become a writer in Hollywood in order to integrate the voices of immigrants, the LGBTQ community, and people who have not been represented for far too long.
“It’s important that new voices are able to tell stories that were never told before,” Martin says. “For as long as I can remember it’s been the same type of people, same families, and same colors. I want to watch TV and see people like me. Also, there should not only be more diversity on TV, but in the writers’ rooms. They should be diverse, with people of different colors, accents, genders and sexual orientations.”
Martin feels blessed to have landed on Vida, a groundbreaking show for the Latinx community, and plans to continue fighting for more representation in mainstream Hollywood.
“I want diverse characters. For example, the stories we see now with queer characters, they’re always the same. The characters are young, with a nice body, who know about fashion and design, but that’s not the norm. Hollywood only thinks of queer as being young, blonde and skinny. Of course that does exist, but I’m 6’8”. I am big, I am hairy, my husband is the same and when we watch queer characters on TV, we don’t feel they represent the entirety of the community.”
The third season of Vida is currently in production and will premiere in 2020.
Written by: Allison Collins-SmithAllison Collins-Smith is a three-time, Emmy-nominated journalist who has worked as a television reporter and anchor in markets around the country. She has covered a variety of stories from the riots in Charlottesville, Virginia to President Trump’s travel ban in the fourth circuit court of appeals. Allison has also won AP awards for her work and a Catalyst For Change award from the Arc of Virginia for her reporting on the disabled community. Allison just moved to Los Angeles with her screen writer husband and two cats and is excited for all LA has to offer!