The N Word: Project Enye Puts the Focus on the 16 Million Young Latinos in the U.S.

Henry Ansbacher and Denise Soler Cox partnered on Project Enye.
Henry Ansbacher and Denise Soler Cox partnered on Project Enye.
Anthony Camera

Spanish has birthed one unique letter: ñ, pronounced "en-yay." The squiggly line above the n is called a tilde. Twelfth-century Spanish scribes used the tilde to shorthand the pairing of the same letter in a word: nn, aa, etc. Of all the Spanish letters that once carried a tilde, ñ is the sole survivor.

In the late 1990s, Denise Soler Cox, an energetic young graphic designer, was living in Miami when she heard a radio ad: "You know you're a part of Generation Ñ if you love Madonna and Celia Cruz, if you eat McDonald's and rice and beans." The ad was talking to up-and-coming young Latinos in the United States, whose parents' backgrounds straddled Spanish- and English-speaking countries. This new generation defied the stereotype that all Latinos are maids, line cooks, farmworkers and undocumented immigrants. Hip, technologically savvy and politically relevant, Generation Ñ was the future — and Soler Cox immediately embraced the Ñ identity, using it as a rallying point.

But now, more than fifteen years later, few have rallied. Generation Ñ (or Enye, as it's often stylized) which was created in Miami in 1996 by Latino publisher Bill Teck, has caught on in fits and starts. Newsweek used the term in a feature about prominent young Latinos in 1999, and an entrepreneurial group of bilingual Americans and Canadians have used the term to market to Latino youth, with mixed success.

But Soler Cox has not given up on Generation Ñ. She wants to use the term to untie the image of Latinos in the United States from the immigration debate. "Enyes are first-generation American children of parents from Spanish-speaking countries," she explains. "Not enough people know about it."

In fact, she speculates that fewer than 1 percent of the members of Generation Enye have even heard the term themselves. Now she's hoping that a documentary about the Enye experience will empower the next generation. Three years ago, Soler Cox joined forces with Emmy Award-winning documentary producer Henry Ansbacher. Together they formed Project Enye (Ñ), a multimedia documentary and community-organizing project designed to capture a group that Soler Cox estimates is 16 million strong.

Filmmaker Henry Ansbacher
Filmmaker Henry Ansbacher
Anthony Camera

Ansbacher is a third-generation American descendant of Heinze Ansbacher, a Jewish broker who fled Germany when he "saw the writing on the wall" as Adolf Hitler rose to power, his grandson says. Heinze came to the United States and became a prominent psychologist following in the footsteps of Alfred Adler. While Henry Ansbacher speaks a few phrases in Spanish, he is neither the son of an immigrant nor Latino. But he believes in the power of the Ñ word. See also: Ten Must-Watch Colorado Filmmakers Making Movies Now

Fidel Paulino, the focus of a micro-documentary, makes sancocho, a Caribbean stew.
Fidel Paulino, the focus of a micro-documentary, makes sancocho, a Caribbean stew.

His cowboy boots kicked up on video editor Peter Lively's desk, Henry Ansbacher blows out a lungful of smoke from his e-cigarette, looking like a futuristic Marlboro Man. He's wrangling with Lively and Soler Cox over the second draft cut of their newest micro-documentary, which they have just decided to title "What Is Sancocho?"

Clocking in at around four minutes, "Sancocho" gives viewers a glimpse into the life of Fidel Paulino, an Afro-Latino Dominican conga player who lives in Denver. The short opens at a dinner party at Soler Cox's home in LoDo, where Paulino praises the sancocho, a Caribbean stew.

Sancocho first simmered in the pots of Dominican slaves making do with the scraps that their masters threw at them. It is the product of Spanish colonialism and enslavement of African and indigenous peoples in the Caribbean. Soler Cox's recipe includes marinated chicken, beef and pork, plantains, yuca, calabasa, corn, green and red peppers, cilantro, onion and garlic. The soup is a convergence of African, Caribbean, European and Asian ingredients; it is as mixed as the cultures that make up the Latino identity.

"When was the last time you had sancocho made with real sea water?" Paulino asks, on screen.

Normally bubbling over with enthusiasm (she describes herself as a likable Type A), Soler Cox thinks that Lively should cut the line. "Who cares?" she asks.

But Lively and Ansbacher like the line, which gives them a glimpse into an unfamiliar world. "It makes the character interesting," Lively says.

After a few minutes of debate, Soler Cox concedes.

At the end of "Sancocho," Paulino says: "There is a long African and indigenous background, tradition, history, and we inherited all that stuff. It's mixed in that sancocho, of all that mix that we are. White, black, blue, green, yellow — everything. It all came through us, you know what I'm saying? The slave trade came through us.

"'Latino' to me is a brand-new brand name for us. We're much more ancient and older and have a longer history than what 'Latino' can really offer us."

Everybody in the editing bay loves these lines. Though controversial, they communicate the complexity of the issues that Project Enye aims to address, Soler Cox says. Keep reading for more on Project Enye.

 

Daniel Junge and Henry Ansbacher won awards for their work together, including their first film, Chiefs.
Daniel Junge and Henry Ansbacher won awards for their work together, including their first film, Chiefs.
Greg Harbaugh ©A.M.P.A.S.

Ansbacher pinballs in and out of his office. With 1,500 orders he needs to fill for his newest feature documentary, American Mustang, he cannot afford to stop. While he dashes about, his black Rottweiler, Luna, lies on a dog bed in the corner, dreaming, farting and waiting for her master to return to his desk.

Trophies from past awards line Ansbacher's shelves. Photos of his kids, film-festival posters and promotions for long-wrapped documentaries decorate the walls. Genocide, euthanasia, disability and Native American reservation life are some of the themes he's focused on over the past fifteen years, as founder and executive director of Just Media.

Ansbacher finally settles at his desk and puffs at his vaporizer. "You don't mind this, do you?" he asks. No. He continues smoking. "I'm not very comfortable talking about myself."

He spends his life listening to pitches, raising funds, reviewing edits and keeping Just Media afloat. Sometimes he shoots, occasionally he directs. But he's no Michael Moore or Morgan Spurlock clowning for the camera; he's not the focus of the stories he wants to tell. He's a traditional producer, working behind the scenes, building networks, assembling crews and making sure his directors have what they need to succeed. He makes big deals, gets rejected, sometimes wins, and through ups and downs steers his projects from conception to completion without breaking down. Mostly.

Talking about his story is a vulnerability he rarely affords himself.

Ansbacher's parents split up early in his life. His mother lived in Massachusetts; his father lived in Colorado Springs. Ansbacher was a day student at Williston, a Northampton boarding school. Summers, he visited Colorado. His father was a world-renowned conductor, and Ansbacher spent the season crewing for orchestras, moving mike stands, adjusting lights and doing whatever other grunt work was required.

In high school, Ansbacher had a small group of close friends. He played sports and had little interest in academics. When he was seventeen, his mother was diagnosed with colon cancer. It spread to her liver. She was given three months to a year to live and died four months after the diagnosis. "I stayed in Massachusetts senior year, living with my stepfather," he remembers. "He had just lost his wife; I had just lost my mom. It was a dark year."

A still from Chiefs, dubbed the "Native American Hoop Dreams."
A still from Chiefs, dubbed the "Native American Hoop Dreams."

He enrolled at Colorado College to be closer to his father. There, he started shooting his first films.

Ansbacher met filmmaker Daniel Junge in college, and worked as the cinematographer on his thesis film. "We had a close relationship for a long time," Ansbacher says. After college, the two moved to Denver and lived together, while Ansbacher worked as a personal assistant to then-businessman John Hickenlooper.

Later, both studied film at New York University. Together they worked on an independent feature film that didn't take off. After that, Junge moved to Los Angeles to work in the movie industry and Ansbacher abandoned filmmaking. He followed in the footsteps of his psychologist grandparents, Heinze and Rowena, attending counseling school and working as a therapist at a hospice center.

In the late '90s, Junge invited Ansbacher to produce a documentary. He bit. Junge moved back to Colorado, and the two set off to Junge's home state of Wyoming, to the Wind River Reservation, to chronicle two high-school basketball seasons. The resulting documentary, Chiefs, aired on PBS and won the Best Documentary Feature award at the prestigious Tribeca Film Festival in 2002. "Basketball was a device to get into the day-to-day lives of people living on the reservation," Ansbacher remembers. "The way Dan and I worked was embedding ourselves with subjects and diving in."

For Ansbacher, one documentary at a time was not enough. "He had the idea of, instead of us just trying to make another film, he wanted to do something more sustainable," Junge says. "The idea of a nonprofit around social-action films was a really great idea. That's how Just Media was born." After creating the nonprofit, Ansbacher hired Junge full-time. They worked as a producer-director duo on award-winning feature-length documentaries, including They Killed Sister Dorothy and Iron Ladies of Liberia, as well as the short "The Last Campaign of Governor Booth Gardener."

"Whenever possible, we'd try to show the films together, be together at screenings and show films together," Junge says. "We were tied at the hip, and a lot of people saw us that way and still see us that way."

Ansbacher admired Junge's singular vision; Junge admired Ansbacher's ability to see the big picture. "We were working together every day. I handled more of the traditional producer roles; he handled director roles," Ansbacher says.

But after years of close friendship and collaboration, tensions started to simmer. "Henry and I had creative frictions," Junge says. "I think sometimes that's a good thing. I think we challenged each other's notions about what the films should be. He was very supportive of the films I was directing and sometimes made revisions, and that makes the product as good as it could be."

The more success they had as a duo, though, the less comfortable Ansbacher felt. "We had worked together for a long time. We had good shorthand for communicating. We had a one-two presentation style that worked well. I maybe felt constrained by that," he says. Junge believes his stubborn, singular focus wore Ansbacher out.

Ansbacher talks about their relationship as a professional marriage. They dated in college, got engaged making Chiefs, and had a productive decade. "But we grew apart," he says. "In 2008, I started to realize it wasn't going to be the best strategy to exclusively work together. We were a package deal. I wanted to do things differently and try things and subjects that didn't appeal to Dan."

"I think we both needed some new energy," Junge adds. "I certainly know he needed some new energy. Sometimes, changing your relationships and working with new people is a good thing. I don't know if he was very conscious about that, but I think we had lots of creative conflicts, which were good for each individual project but made for a hard partnership."

Fearful of losing his friend, Ansbacher started strategizing about how he could cut ties with Junge. "There was a period of time where we were each having our own thoughts about how it was working," Ansbacher says. "Once I had opened up to the idea of not working with Dan, it triggered an internal process of imagining what that would be like." With the recession hitting nonprofits, Just Media had to cut back its staff. Ansbacher asked the board to lay off Junge. "It was a hard decision for me," he admits.

"It's more difficult working on my own," Junge says, "but I've been super-lucky and really fortunate. I ended up winning an Oscar, an Emmy, having a film at Tribeca and two in theatrical release this year. I've been lucky. And it's great that Henry is continuing to keep Just Media going."

The same year Junge left Just Media, Ansbacher's father was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Ansbacher says he was haunted by "a lot of unresolved stuff from my mom's death twenty years ago."

In 2010, Ansbacher and Junge's final film together, "The Last Campaign of Governor Booth Gardner," received an Oscar nomination. Ansbacher took his father to the Academy Awards and took a leave of absence from Just Media to spend time with him during his last months. Ansbacher produced a short documentary about his father's legacy. While Just Media suffered, he's proud of his decision to take time off. "It was a big time of transition. I went through a lot of change and growth in 2010."

By 2012, he and his wife had divorced. "Today I'm a very different person, in a lot of ways, than I was in 2010," Ansbacher explains. "I've had a whole lot of personal growth motivated by pain. I stepped into it and faced a lot of this stuff that had been simmering over the years. I looked at what's working, what's not working, what has served me well, what hasn't.

"Growth is hard. Some people embrace it and some people don't."

Ansbacher was ready to embrace it.

Tired of making films about heavy subjects that his kids could not enjoy, he decided to make American Mustang, a family-oriented documentary about wild horses, a subject with which his daughters were obsessed. With promises that the home-television 3-D market would be booming, Ansbacher decided to shoot in 3-D. "It's cool to watch, in 3-D, a dance between a cowboy and a wild horse," he says. Although it was creatively satisfying, it wasn't a sound investment — but after years of austere cinéma vérité docs, Ansbacher wanted to push himself as a filmmaker. He was sick of talking heads.

While American Mustang features interviews, they're performed by actors. Actors also play many of the characters — a teenage girl with an almost disturbing obsession with horses, a horse tamer and an advocate. The film is filled with lusciously shot dreamscapes — highly constructed ones, the opposite of the real-world films Ansbacher made with Junge.

Shooting the film, Ansbacher spent weeks in Wyoming tracking down packs of wild horses. "Most people never get out into huge swaths of public land and observe these horses in the wild," he says. The solitude was healing.

Over fifteen years, Ansbacher has watched the documentary field transform. "It's incredible how fast things change," he says. He's watched editing shift from flatbeds where editors cut film to huge non-linear editing systems and then cheaper software packages that amateur filmmakers could afford. The cost of broadcast-quality cameras shrank from tens of thousands of dollars to around $1,500. With the barrier of entry to film production lowering, aspiring filmmakers have flooded the market. Competition for limited television slots on HBO and PBS has increased.

To stay in business, instead of targeting mass markets, Ansbacher is placing his bets on making films to market to niche audiences. Crowdsourcing drives it all: funding, marketing, even editorial direction.

"We learn from each project," he says. "Each project has new challenges and lessons. I spent three or four years in the horse world. Now I'm transitioning to Enye, to a new audience."

 

Denise Soler Cox found inspiration in Generation Enye.
Denise Soler Cox found inspiration in Generation Enye.
Anthony Camera

Denise Soler Cox was born in New York. Her father was a Puerto Rican Enye; her mother was from Puerto Rico. Soler Cox spent her first four years in an apartment in the Bronx, where she shared a bedroom with her two older brothers. "It was the traditional Nuyorican experience," she says.

Her parents craved a quieter life. They saved up money for a house in Westchester County, fifty minutes from New York City. The Soler family was the only Puerto Rican family in an Irish-Italian community. Her brothers, who had built up friendships in the Bronx, had a harder time with the move than Denise did. She blended into Westchester County without much struggle — at least at first.

The family lived on a one-acre plot. The kids skated on a pond in winter, hiked on train tracks and stole apples from their neighbor's orchard. It was pure Americana, she says, laughing.

Every Sunday, the family would drive back to Spanish Harlem, to the church where her parents had gotten married. She remembers driving by dirty buildings while her father sang along to the rock band Chicago. "We would get there, do church, hang out and have dinner with friends," she says.

But as Soler Cox got older, Spanish Harlem felt less like home: "I don't have memories of feeling connected to the community, but I have memories of being disconnected." Gas prices shot up, and the family could no longer afford the trip. Soler Cox lost touch with her Nuyorican friends.

Through elementary school, she felt like any other kid in Westchester County. She hardly noticed that her school had just five Latino, three African-American and three Asian students. By seventh grade, though, blending in was not an option. Bullies picked on her. One called her a spic. She became a walking target, and her ethnicity was the bull's-eye. It was not just the Irish and Italian kids who ridiculed her. Each summer, when she visited family in Puerto Rico, she had trouble with the kids there: "They thought I had become too American. I was embracing my American side too much."

Since she'd spent most of her life far from the island, she'd never learned Puerto Rican cultural norms. "You don't get a rule book for how to act as a child," she says. "I was breaking rules and didn't even know what they were." A few she learned the hard way: Never talk back to your parents, stick close to home until you marry (and it had better not be a gringo), and speak Spanish fluently.

Her cousin would ask, "How's your Spanish? Speak to me in Spanish." She would. "It wouldn't be good enough," she remembers.

Whether she was in Westchester County or Puerto Rico, she didn't fit in.

When she was fourteen, her father was diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease and died two months later. While she struggled with grief, the bullies kept bullying. "They knew about what happened with my dad," she says. They used his death as a weapon. "No one gets out of life without tragedy."

While her oldest brother worked and went to college, she and her brother David, who was a year and a half older, consoled each other. But then, during her junior year, "a cop and a priest knocked on the door at 2:30 in the morning." A drunk driver had killed David. "It was horrific. I had to figure out who I was without him. When Dad died, I felt like I couldn't feel safe. When David died, I had this feeling: 'Who am I?' I knew myself because of him," she says. "When stuff like that happens, it's easy to go to a dark place and live an uninspired existence."

Instead, Soler Cox pushed herself. She ran for class president her junior year and lost; she waged another campaign senior year and won.

She enrolled at Boston University, interested in studying film. But her family frowned on the riskiness of the profession, so she took a safer route and graduated with a degree in communications.

After working as an assistant art director at a women's newspaper in Westchester County while living at home, she violated the Puerto Rican rule book by leaving her family behind and moving to Miami to start a life with her college boyfriend, a relationship that did not last. In Miami, she worked as a barista, got a job selling ads and then took a gig as an art director for a music magazine.

Then, at 26, she went to a bar and got drunk with a group of friends, children of parents from Spanish-speaking countries. As they talked late into the night, she realized she wanted to make a documentary about the experiences of people who were performing life using two cultural scripts.

But she didn't do anything about it until a couple of years later, when she heard the Generation Ñ ad and discovered a word that she and her friends could band together under. She hoped that one day she would make a movie that would tell the story of Generation Ñ.

In the meantime, Soler Cox decided to make a change. Her childhood friend's aunt lived in Colorado and was launching a business called Giggle With the Girls, to create destination vacations for moms. Soler Cox joined the project in Boulder — a shocking shift from the primarily Latino city where the Generation Ñ brand was born. She felt like she had gone back in time.

A guy at a Boulder bar asked her, "Where are you from?" When she told him, he asked, "Well, were you born in Puerto Rico?" When she said no, he responded, "You're not Puerto Rican, then. You're American" — a strange take, since Puerto Rico has been a U.S. territory since 1898.

"As a kid, people told me I wasn't what I identified as," she says. "I hadn't had anyone say something like that in twenty years."

Despite the frustrations of Boulder life, Soler Cox threw herself into Giggling With the Girls. "We were a startup. I love the narrative of the entrepreneur; it resonates with me a lot," she says. She secured national attention for the company, including a spot on CNN. Two weeks after the company launched, planes struck the Twin Towers. Giggling With the Girls depended on a public eager to fly. In her grief for what had happened in her home state, the destination-vacation startup seemed frivolous. Soler Cox left the venture, which soon tanked.

She wound up at a franchise hosting eight-minute-dating events. Her piece of the company took off, and the owner invited her to the office to explain her success. She went on the Today show to talk about her events. But the job left her unfulfilled.

"I cheated on my business," she admits, and started looking for dates on Match.com. She found Kevin Cox, who lived in Oklahoma. They spoke on the phone for six weeks before he came out on New Year's Day 2004 to meet her. They married in October 2006, had their first child in 2007 and their second in 2009. Without her doing a lot of hard work on her Spanish, Soler Cox realized, her own children would not grow up with the privilege of being bilingual. She thought about her goal of making a documentary, but didn't see a way to do it.

She shifted from the eight-minute-dating business to working in the marketing department for the former Denver Grand Prix and securing sponsorships for the House of Blues. When Live Nation bought House of Blues, she lost her job. She started working for Arbonne, a skin-care-products company, where she worked her way up to regional vice-president. There she perfected her network marketing skills, earned a leased Mercedes, created strong relationships with co-workers, and made more money than she knew how to spend. She had never felt further from her Enye community.

So she decided to get back into it. She began to set up speaking gigs at local schools, where she talked to students about her experiences as an Enye. She wanted to empower them, to show them that they could succeed in life and also feel proud of who they were. The desire to make an Enye documentary returned and grew. She talked about it with anybody who would listen. In 2013, she mentioned it to a friend who knew a neighbor who made documentaries. The friend got Denise a meeting with the filmmaker. She had no idea she'd be sitting down with an Emmy-winning, Oscar-nominated producer.

 

Members of the Just Media crew -- including Peter Lively (from left), Abry Deshong, Denise Soler Cox, Tamil Maldonado, Danny Beteta and Henry Ansbacher -- are producing Project Enye videos.
Members of the Just Media crew -- including Peter Lively (from left), Abry Deshong, Denise Soler Cox, Tamil Maldonado, Danny Beteta and Henry Ansbacher -- are producing Project Enye videos.

When Denise Soler Cox presented her proposal to Henry Ansbacher, she was petrified. "I felt like I was standing in front of him in a bathing suit, waiting to jump into a cold pool," she remembers. Since she'd never made a film, she feared he would not take her seriously. So she spoke with him about the struggles she experienced growing up as an Enye, living a life split between two worlds, the sense of community she had found drinking and swapping life stories with her first-generation friends, and the identity she'd embraced when she'd heard that radio ad over fifteen years earlier in Miami. She talked about how she had never seen herself represented in pop culture and how she wanted to amplify the stories of other Enyes to share them with the broader public so that kids growing up today wouldn't have to deal with the same confusions she experienced.

Ansbacher hears a lot of pitches each year and is rarely impressed. But he remembers thinking, as he listened to Soler Cox share her story and talk about the 16 million Enyes in the United States, "My dad had the same experience." His father was the German equivalent of an Enye. "It's a very American story," Ansbacher says.

He not only saw potential in a documentary, but thought that Soler Cox's marketing experience would help push that potential. The project targeted a specific demographic that could support, finance, promote and participate in the storytelling.

Ansbacher also needed a marketer on his team to lead the social-media campaign for American Mustang. He brought Soler Cox on board, and while she learned the ins and outs of film distribution, Project Enye moved to the back burner.

Worried that the film would get dropped, Soler Cox set up an interview with actor Edward James Olmos in November 2013. After that, she and Ansbacher ramped up their interview schedule. They produced a sizzle reel, showing clips of interviews designed to attract funders and press. They built a website (projectenye.com), hired a production coordinator and a videographer, built a roster of crew members who could shoot at a moment's notice, and put out a call, through their social networks, for Enyes to send in videos about their experiences.

They received a total of three. One was nonsensical and unrelated to the project, the video equivalent of spam. The other two were from Enyes, but once they were launched on the website, Soler Cox and Ansbacher received feedback indicating that these homemade shorts turned viewers off. The Enyes whom Soler Cox spoke with were willing to make videos, but only after a longer conversation. She realized that people's stories about their culture were private; nobody wanted to share on their own.

So last fall, the team shifted strategy and started producing micro-docs with the idea of turning them into a full feature. "At first I thought, people are only going to listen to the story if it's spoken from a well-known person, a celebrity," Soler Cox says. "Henry convinced me that that is not the case. He's been to the Academy Awards making stories about everyday people. He convinced me that an everyday person's story, told the right way, could be every bit as powerful as a celebrity's."

She worried that being based in Denver, so far from Latino hubs in Los Angeles, New York and Miami, might also be a detriment to the project. So far, that hasn't been the case. "A lot of famous people blow through town, and my intention is to make sure we're interviewing more of them," she says. "I don't think by any stretch, oddly enough, we're restricted by being in Colorado, which is really crazy. And we're excited to go and meet Enyes in other places."

They released the first of the short documentaries on New Year's Day 2015. Project Enye now has four up, with a goal of continuing to release one short each week; they plan to use the footage to create the final film. In the meantime, they're hosting cooking nights and happy hours at which Enyes come together to celebrate their culture. The team shoots each event.

Lupe Montes Hirt.
Lupe Montes Hirt.

In the first micro-doc, Lupe Montes Hirt, whose family came to the United States from Mexico, jokes about how she grew up wanting a dog. All her friends had cats and dogs; in her family, the pets were hens and a rooster. Throughout her life, she has loved knowing two languages and being able to serve as a translator. But the short ends with a painful sequence in which she talks about her frustration with people in the U.S. who dismiss others because they can't speak English. "You hate it when you're that person that people don't understand. I hate it. It's one of those where you look at them and you're like, 'They're not stupid. They're people, too.' But people oftentimes will dismiss them and almost sweep them under the carpet because they feel like, 'Hey, you can't communicate with me, so I shouldn't even waste my time on you.' It's not right."

In the second short, Charles Rodney Carpenter, whose mother came from El Salvador and whose father came from Washington State, talks about the joy of eating pupusas and sharing space with Salvadorans. "It was cool that I always had that kind of touchstone with my culture. It was the one thing I had that I felt like I could connect with," he says. "What breaks the spell is the minute that people naturally see me and start engaging with me in Spanish, and I can't talk back. It's a very frustrating thing. It's frustrating for two reasons. One, I'm a little disappointed in myself that I can't talk back, so I feel like I'm letting myself down a little bit. And then the other thing is the look on the faces of the people engaging with me. They're like, 'Why don't you know Spanish? You look like you should know this.'" So much of the Enye experience involves culture and language.

The events, the short documentaries, the crowdsourced videos and the social-engagement campaigns are all designed to collect stories, audition potential subjects, and test material, as it is produced, on audiences.

Ansbacher was used to making a film and then distributing it; Soler Cox's decision to turn production into product shook him up. He was nervous but engaged. He realizes that if the team builds a fan base before the film is complete, he will have an easier time attracting funders and a broadcaster.

"We are 100 percent committed to having an audience built before the film is released," Soler Cox says.

 

Bianca Dominguez Pacheco shares her Enye story.
Bianca Dominguez Pacheco shares her Enye story.

At a December retreat in the mountains, the Project Enye team was brainstorming goals. "I like to get the craziest thoughts on paper," Soler Cox says.

She wrote that she wanted Enye to be a part of the social vernacular, a household name. Then she laughed off the idea, saying it was impossible. But Ansbacher pushed back. "He refused me saying something was impossible," she remembers. "It's nice to be challenged. There are only two people who can challenge me: Ansbacher and my husband."

To reach her goal of making Enye a part of the broader cultural vocabulary, Soler Cox wants 160,000 Enyes to sign up on the Project Enye website by the end of the year. That's 1 percent of the 16,000,000 Enyes that she believes live in this country.

"I had to read a ton of stuff," she says. "I found out how many Latinos are in the United States — anywhere between 51 and 53 million. Pew says 52 million. Thirty-something percent are American-born. I had to get the numbers and do my own math to guess 16 million. I feel like that number is conservative, but I have no other way to make a more accurate number. There isn't anything measuring how many Enyes are in each state, except for us."

On the website, the team is creating a map where Enyes can add themselves, along with their parents' country (or countries) of origin. The slogan for this part of the project is "Stand Up and Be Counted." They hope the site can create a more accurate estimate of how many Enyes live in the country and in each state.

In Colorado, Soler Cox has reached out to the Latino Eco Festival, CineLatino, the Boulder Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Latina Community Foundation and the Biennial of the Americas to garner support for the project. She says she's met with enthusiastic responses, grant money and people interested in sharing their Enye stories. On January 1, she and Ansbacher launched a weekly podcast. They plan on marketing a television series to broadcasters. Soler Cox hopes to use the project to push her work as a public speaker, educating youth in schools. The team is working to recruit prominent Enyes to appear in the documentary: musicians Pitbull, Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony and comedian Louis C.K. top the list.

All of this is to spread the word about Generation Enye. "This goal keeps me up at night," Soler Cox says. "I feel I've been assigned the job of telling the story of 16 million Enyes."


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