The issue of Latinx representation in US media is still very much a work in progress. Sure, we have shows like Netflix's Gentefied and Starz's Vida, but many of the shows that are made for us tend to focus primarily on the Mexican-American/West Coast experience, often leaving out other Latinx groups and their stories — like Dominican-Americans, who are actually the largest Latinx community in New York City.
Growing up, I didn't see other brown-skinned, curly-haired Dominican girls like me on television — ever. It's not that they didn't exist in the world — they just weren't spoken about or seen on screen. I found myself relating more to mixed-race or light-skinned Black celebs like Alicia Keys, Aaliyah, and The Spice Girls' Mel B. How was it that I lived in a city where I constantly saw and met people that looked like me and shared my Dominican culture, and yet we weren't reflected anywhere in pop culture — not in music, not in film, and not in television?
Growing up, I didn't see other brown-skinned, curly haired Dominican girls like me on television — ever.
I also wondered how it was possible that Dominican people are literally some of the funniest people you'll ever meet, and yet we had no presence in American comedy. Fortunately, this is finally beginning to change. Dominican comedians like Aida Rodriguez, The Kid Mero from Desus & Mero, and LeJuan James are becoming Latinx household names, and Bronx-born comedians Sasha Merci and Dee Nasty just landed their first show on Fuse TV, Like, Share, Dímelo. It's the kind of show I really wish was around when I was growing up.
If you're Dominican and you have an Instagram account, it's very likely you've heard of Sasha and Dee. My non-Instagram-savvy Dominican mom has even shared video clips from their pages. These two beautiful, brown-skinned, curly-haired Dominicanas with impressive followings are funny AF. They talk about everything — sex, dating, culture, identity, and even politics — all with a hysterical twist.
The two comedians join the trend of first- and second-generation Dominicans who made their comedy break — all thanks to social media. Sasha Merci Medina, whose parents both migrated from the Dominican Republic, was born and raised in the Bronx with dreams of becoming a singer. From childhood, she participated in theater performances and was recording music in the studio from her late teens.
After years of people telling her she was funny, Sasha decided to finally take a stab at comedy, performing at open mics and doing standup here and there. But when Instagram added the video feature to its platform and she decided to start posting comedy clips to her page, everything started to take off. Sasha's page blew up, opening doors and opportunities left and right.
Around the same time, her childhood bestie, Darlene Demorizi — also known as Dee Nasty — was also pursuing a career in acting and comedy. Sasha encouraged her to start an Instagram account showing off her comedy, and the rest is history.
"It's weird that there hasn't been more Dominican-American comedians because I think we're one of the funniest groups of people."
Comedy came naturally to the two of them, who grew up in households where cracking jokes was done on the regular. Before they knew it, they were filling a void that had been missing for years — Dominican representation! "It definitely stems from my culture, you know?" Sasha told POPSUGAR. "I always felt like I was funny."
"I realized that it's actually a very American thing to think women aren't funny but it's not a Dominican thing. Dominican women are funny!" Meanwhile, Dee attributes her penchant for comedy to her family. "I come from a family that's just cracking jokes at all times," Dee said. "And even in NYC, growing up in the Bronx — living in Washington Heights now — it almost feels like the streets are an open mic."
"It's weird that there hasn't been more Dominican-American comedians because I think we're one of the funniest groups of people, and I know that sounds like a very general blanket statement, but we're funny as hell!"
Shortly after their IG accounts started growing, the two decided to start doing comedy shows on stage together and called it Sancocho. "Sancocho is our baby," Dee said. "With Sancocho we were already doing our standup shows, we were doing a lot of open mics and combining that with being lucky enough to have an online presence."
This caught Fuse TV's attention, who gave them a platform to continue using their voice and pushing representation forward in their own terms, and that's how Like, Share, Dímelo was born. Their show feels like part talk show, part comedy skit. They cover topics like the use of the word "Latinx," or the racial differences within Latinx communities and how Afro-Latinidad is still something that's very much ignored in Hollywood and mainstream media — even in 2020.
"We are the executive producers on the show as well," says Dee. "And we definitely wanted to create something that just has all of the elements that I think make Sasha and I up. We wanted the comedy in there. We started our comedic careers doing skits on Instagram so we wanted to put that in, which is why we always open it up with a skit, and we might bring a little more into it — we'll see."
Seeing two brown-skinned, curly-haired Dominicanas on a show is not only significant for all the brown and Black women watching, but also for non-Latinx to understand that we don't all just look one way. Latinx vary racially. Sasha and Dee also want folks to understand that they aren't trying to be the token faces for Afro-Latinidad, either. They plan on using their platforms to help shine some light on darker, more Black-presenting Afro-Latinas who are doing really great work in their communities and respective fields, so they can finally get the acknowledgement they deserve.
Seeing two brown-skinned, curly haired Dominicanas on a show is not only significant for all the brown and Black girls and women watching, but also for non-Latinx.
"More than anything, I want them to know that we exist and that behind these two girls — these two women — there are so many women that are just like us. There's a bigger culture than just us," Sasha said. "I think about it all the time . . . we're here and in this position in our lives because of the support we're getting from people that identify with us. More than anything, I want them to take away the culture and who we are."
With the recent success of Latinx-focused shows and upcoming films like Lin-Manuel Miranda's film adaptation of his Broadway hit In the Heights, as well as Dominican-American actresses like Dascha Polanco, Leslie Grace, and Julissa Calderón becoming mainstream, it was only a matter of time until folks finally caught on to the amazingness of our people.
Seriously, the world was really missing out. The two episodes of Like, Share, Dímelo were not only incredibly well-produced and obviously hella relatable — I mean, the girls look just like me! — but it also speaks to the fact that Dominicans are spirited, creative, and basically know how to make a good time out of literally anything. We're a bunch of talented and vibrant folks, and it's about time we have our shining moment.
You can watch the two first episodes below. Episode three comes out this Friday, May 8, with hopefully more episodes in the works — fingers crossed.