Gaby Natale’s rise to success is an inspirational tale, filled with international locations, plenty of gumption and a whole lot of perseverance. After leaving her native Argentina for Texas, Natale began her career in broadcast journalism as an anchor at Univision. After securing her green card, she left the company and pitched her own Spanish-language television show, SuperLatina, to a local network. To her surprise, they loved the idea.
Natale broadcast her first show out of a carpet storage closet in Odessa, Texas. Seven years later, SuperLatina is a six-time Emmy-nominated, nationally syndicated hit. Her production company, AGANAR Media, now has an impressive marketing arm with clients like Ford and Ebay. Here, Natale talks about her Argentine roots, her early life as a gypsy reporter and the secret behind SuperLatina’s success:
Position: President and co-founder, AGANAR Media, host and co-executive producer of SuperLatina
Resume: Started her broadcast career as a Washington, D.C., correspondent for Latin America, was noticed by Univision and brought on as an anchor, eventually left the company to start AGANAR Media and SuperLatina.
Birthday: May 13, 1978
Hometown: La Plata, Argentina
Education: University of San Andrés, BA, MA
Marital status: Married
Media mentor: “I wish I had one, but I don’t. My inspirations are so many strong women that have control over their content. So it would be Oprah, it would be Martha Stewart, it would beTyra Banks. These are women that have a powerful voice on camera, but are also involved in the whole creative process and own whatever they produce.”
Best career advice received: “It was from my mother. She always told me: ‘You never know when opportunity’s going to knock on your door. Smile like they’re paying you a million dollars per minute, even when you’re doing unpaid work.’”
Last book read: Girl Boss, by Sophia Amoruso
Guilty pleasure: Reality TV and Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food
Twitter Handle: @SuperLatinaShow
Where did your interest in journalism come from?
I come from a family of lawyers, so communication and journalism was not perceived as a serious career. So I started university as an international relations major. When I was in the third year of university, I had the chance to do an exchange and travel to London. That really opened my mind to the diversity in the world. When I came back, I continued studying international relations during the day, but at night I started taking courses on TV production. Then I decided to do a master’s degree in journalism. That really confirmed that media was what I liked the most.
How did you become a Washington, D.C., correspondent?
I got a job offer from a public relations firm in Washington, D.C., and so I started working there. I was freelancing for media in Latin America. Then, I was assigned to a project in Mexico. That’s where I became more aware of what was going on the border and the immigration issues. I started doing stories about immigration and that’s when Univision offered me a position as news anchor in Texas.
What was that transition like?
There were some years in my life where wherever opportunity took me I would grab it. Those were the gypsy years. I lived in five different cities in five years. When you are reporting and you want to move forward, you have to be flexible. If you have an opportunity that’s coming, you want to take advantage of it. At the time, I was in my early 20s, so I thought it was fun, too. At the same time, it was a lot of adjustment because on a personal level I couldn’t settle down anywhere.
When did you start your production company?
I was working as a news anchor in 2007 at Univision. I had applied three times for my green card. It was a very long process. When the green card finally got approved, it was great because I didn’t have to rely on my visa anymore. For many years, my visa depended on my job, so if I got fired, if the company closed, I would lose my status. So I wanted to be free of that, and I wanted to start choosing more for myself what I wanted to do, regardless of the opportunities that were coming my way.
So after it got approved, I had one of those moments where you think, ‘What do I really want?’ Because now I have the freedom to create whatever I want. One of the things that I really wanted was to have more control, on the creative side and the editorial side, of the stories I was creating. I said, ‘OK, now I have this freedom. Why don’t I start my own company, my own show and start producing content that I want?’
And how did you go about doing that?
First, I quit my news anchor position. I did a pitch to another TV station from the same market and I proposed this show, which was a mix of entertainment and lifestyle, called SuperLatina, just with a PowerPoint. I didn’t know I had to have a pilot or a publicist. I did the pitch, and I was very surprised because after my husband and I left the meeting, this executive said, ‘I like your vision. This is something that we could do.’ We left the meeting and we said, ‘Now what?’ We had a business plan, but we didn’t have any funding to start the company. So we started asking for loans in different banks, but because we didn’t have a credit history in the United States, it was very tough to get that first loan, which was $20,000.
We were rejected by four banks, and then there was a small credit union that said OK. With that first $20,000, we bought the basics: a computer to edit, the software, the camera, the microphones and some pieces of wood to create the set. Because I knew that we had such a limited budget and resources, I made a deal with the TV station where we would co-produce. So they would allow me to use for one hour once a week one cameraman, one director, and they would provide one additional camera and tripod. That’s how I started producing the show.
How did the show grow from there?
After we got more sponsorship, more distributions, we switched from our old station to a Telemundo local station. Then we started syndicating to more TV stations in the area. That’s when we started expanding our reach. Throughout the first seven years of the show, we started creating a lot of buzz. We were nominated for six Emmy awards. We now have two YouTube channels with 25 million total views.
How does AGANAR Media fit into all this?
Once the show picked up more viewers, sponsors started to request other types of services from us. They said, ‘You know what? I love the brand story that you created around [my phone, or my service, or my products]. I have a product launch. Would you create a piece for us to use on social media? Will you create branded content for us to launch in our own platform?’ So about three years ago, something new happened, which was that we became a marketing company. So we started providing new services. Now the show, in terms of revenue, might be 25 or 30 percent of what we do, and the marketing part is starting to take off a lot.
What do you think draws viewers to SuperLatina?
Because we’re independent, they don’t share the Nielsen ratings with us. So we take a very intuitive approach to the show, because I don’t have the minute by minute figures of how are people responding to this or that. I think they like that it’s a fresh approach, it’s a direct, no nonsense show. What [viewers] see on camera is not very different from how I am in my everyday life. I like this casual conversational style and I like interviews to have an unexpected factor.
What would you say are your long-term goals for the show?
Well, I just fulfilled one of the long-term goals. That was to go national. That was a goal since we started seven years ago. And I would say that expanding the platform, launching more shows with AGANAR Media — with me in front or not in front of the camera. I like producing too. I also want to expand our base of clients.
How important is social media for promoting your work?
I think it’s very important. To be honest, when I started hosting things on YouTube almost 10 years ago it was for my mother, who lives in Argentina, to watch what I was doing because she had no way of seeing my work. And then it started to have a life of its own. Our content online is performing really well. And I know advertisers pay attention to that. Television and online, everything is going to become just one source of information. So even if you have a platform that is smaller, if brands see that you are delivering results in those platforms they’ll pay attention.
What advice would you give to up-and-coming journalists?
Well, the industry is changing very dramatically. Television used to be a medium where people made a lot of money. But it’s not this glamorous job that people dreamt about for so long. That’s not it anymore. The skill sets are changing. The bad thing is that I think the salaries are deteriorating. The living conditions for journalists are deteriorating.
But the good thing is that now for the very first time in history, you can publish yourself. So if you have a point of view, you can create something, you have a niche — it could be anything. If you can create content that is compelling and you can publish yourself and create a platform, then you can create opportunities that were not available to you 10 years ago. So I think that’s the advice that I would give: Do your own thing. Listen to your own voice and create your own following. If you can do that, then I think many opportunities can come your way.
Aneya Fernando is the associate editor at Mediabistro. Follow her on twitter @aneyafernando.
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