By Karla Amador
In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month, Niki López is celebrating Latinx and Caribbean cultures through her debut animated series, Santiago of the Seas from Nickelodeon. Premiering on Friday, October 9th at 12:30 pm (ET/PT), join courageous kid pirate Santiago ‘Santi’ Montes as he explores and protects his home Isla Ecanto. The new animated series will feature Spanish-language instruction and ‘al son del Caribe’ learning activities where young viewers are invited to sing, dance, and help Santi on his high-stake adventures aboard his ship, El Bravo.
“My hope is to influence young audiences by exposing them to different backgrounds and perspectives,” López explained. “Championing cultural diversity not only helps pave the way for little minds to evolve, but it makes a tremendous impact on their well-being to see someone who looks like them in the early years.”
When asked how animation and education come together to promote cultural change for Latinx and Caribbean cultural representation, López said “fostering understanding through animation is a creative tool to share cultural expressions with other people and teach respect for those cultures.”
Niki López began her career in television as an intern with Nickelodeon, working her way up to production assistant and color designer. Her breakthrough moment arrived at her first meet-and-greet with Nickelodeon’s executive development team members.
“Nickelodeon has an open-door policy when it comes to pitching ideas and I was advised to answer questions like: ‘What is important to our young viewers’ knowledge?’ and ‘What things did you enjoy when you were little?’ ” she said.
For López, her childhood in Puerto Rico was an immediate inspiration. Drawing upon its rich history, architecture, and the distinct lure of the island, she created Santiago Montes, better known as Santi, the friendly and fierce pirate protector of his home Isla Encanto. Young viewers will have the joy of meeting Santi’s best friends Tomas who plays the magical cuatro guitar and Lorelai, a mermaid who can turn into a human girl using a magical bracelet.
Grappling with what it means to be a woman of COLOR in 2020, López urges women to remain authentic in your vision for the future. “My hope is for women to take the helm in their quest or vision in life, to be paid equitably, to take care of each other, and for everyone to live in a more inclusive world.”
Don’t miss the premiere of Santiago of the Seas this Fall on October 9th on Nickelodeon at 12:30 pm (ET/PT).