The gig: Beatriz Acevedo, 44, is founder and president of MiTu Network, which provides Spanish-language lifestyle programs on YouTube. The company has attracted a variety of investors including Viacom’s Shari Redstone and former News Corp. Chief Operating Officer Peter Chernin. When the network launched, it had 30 channels with about 15 million monthly views. Now, a year later, MiTu has close to 700 channels, and about 100 million monthly views.
First break: Acevedo was born in Tijuana and started in the business at 8, hosting a kids TV show in Baja California and doing voices for radio commercials in San Diego. By the time she was 21, she was working in Mexico City and had won three Emmys. At the urging of a friend, upcoming film director Robert Rodriquez, she went entrepreneurial and began producing TV show demos on spec — and sold them to the Discovery Channel and USA Network. “I felt like a fish out of water, I felt like I was going to cry,” Acevedo said. That landed her a gig as a consultant for Discovery Channel for other Spanish-language programs.
Standing Out: Univision, Telemundo, ABC and Fox all offer Spanish-language programming, but MiTu provides content in English, Spanish and Portuguese, because many Latinos, Acevedo said, though they are Spanish speakers, prefer to search in English and watch English videos. Most traditional networks offer only game shows, soap operas and sports in Spanish, but MiTu provides “culturally relevant content,” including shows on Mexican cookery and raising bilingual children — free of charge. “You have to pay a high premium for most Spanish channels, except for us,” she said.
Working in L.A.: Acevedo left Mexico City for L.A. in 1995. “L.A. was a small town compared to Mexico City,” she said. She felt comfortable in L.A. and appreciated the large Latino community, particularly the Mexican community. When she did some work in Miami, she didn’t feel at home because she couldn’t find a place to buy cilantro. “How can I make my guacamole without cilantro?” she said.
Latinos and the media: A lot of larger networks are not thinking about how they portray Latinos, Acevedo said, and depict Latinos as poor, “down on their luck” people. The Spanish-language telenovelas prove audiences are interested in something different, and TV programming should be inspirational, as well as entertaining. “People want to watch something that they aspire to be,” Acevedo said. “I want to continue to empower these Latinos to be entrepreneurs.”
Advice: The key to surviving in the industry is perseverance, Acevedo said. Take time to feel grateful for all the things you do and don’t be consumed by what’s next. “Enjoy the ride,” she said.
Getting personal: Acevedo is married to TV production veteran Doug Greiff, partner and chief operating officer of MiTu. “Doug and I work great as a team,” she said. “People in meetings are very entertained by my type-A, feisty, Latina personality and his cool and calm East Coast demeanor.... And as a married couple building a network/studio together, Doug likes to say we are like ‘I Love Lucy’ in reverse!” They have twin 8-year-olds, Isabella and Diego, and live in Santa Monica.