There are few groups as underrepresented and misunderstood in today’s media landscape as the Trans community. The stories that do creep into popular culture are often told by those outside of the community that reads like a checked box to meet diversity quotas.
The rare few that are made are developed on a shoestring budget, with little in the way of outside support, and are driven purely out of passion. All of these films need to be seen, but none are more deserving than Tacos y Tacones, especially when conceived out of a life story as inspirational as that of writer Diana Feliz Oliva.
Diana Feliz Oliva, or Lady Diana is the actor, advocate, and writer behind the film, which is inspired by her experiences as a sex worker on the streets of Los Angeles. Raised in a small rural town outside of Fresno, CA, Oliva faced stigma from her community, peers, and even her own family. Determined to live her truth and free of shame, Diana moved to Los Angeles. Like some other trans women, she found herself on Santa Monica Blvd doing sex work to make ends meet. Despite the numerous risk of the trade, Diana recalls her experience on the streets as the only source of love and validation available to her at that time.
Having been arrested multiple times, Diana was later incarcerated at LA County Jail and placed in the men’s block – a traumatic experience she still has trouble reconciling with. Upon her release in 2002, she made a vow to herself to never return to that prison’s twin towers. After many years of hard work she graduated from Cal State Los Angeles with a degree in social work and later a Masters from Columbia University in New York.
“I remember on the day of my graduation that I had finally come to the realization that I had shattered the feelings of shame, stigma, fear, and guilt. But it took many years of family support and friendships along the way to making sure this dream was a reality.”
Suddenly, with a new lease on life, Diana found that her experience and that of so many other Trans-Latinas was absent from mainstream media. With the encouragement of a Latinx writers group, she took a writing course to hone her craft and wrote a short play based on her experiences on the streets of Hollywood that eventually became “Tacos Y Tacones.” The story features dialogue both in English and Spanish as Diana wanted it to come specifically from a Chicana point of view. Lady Diana, along with help from the writers group, decided to produce the story starring herself and grassroots friends in order to preserve the trans experience as the essence of the film.
When asked what she hopes viewers will take away from the film, Diana expressed the following:
“Hopefully this film showcases the beauty of what a trans woman is no matter her profession. We need voices, especially trans Latinas in today’s society making sure that not only are we empowered, but that we are resilient, strong, courageous, and we have stories too that all walks of life can resonate with.”
To hear her full story, watch Lady Diana’s interview with LATV’s The Q Agenda below.