MP: MEMBER PROFILE
CHERYL QUINTANA LEADER
Aztec Goddess of the Fourth Sun, was chosen to light and heat the world for 312
years. Jealous of her position,
Tezcatlipoca, the Black God of Night, taunted and tease her, claiming she burned
so brightly in order to prevent other gods from approaching her.
In her frustration at these false accusations, she wept, and her tears
put out her light and ended her fortuitous reign. – from “Tanto
Change the time-frame and the names and this could be the
biography behind this month’s member profile, with one major difference:
this industry professional has managed to turn the tables on fate and has
transformed her early misfortune into hope – for her and all those she has
touched. Creating light in the
darkness is what Cheryl Quintana Leader is all about.
Leader was born in Phoenix, Arizona.
“My mother‘s Mexican, my father’s Anglo; he convinced her not to
teach us her culture, so that we would be successful in America.
She believed him and completely cut us off from any knowledge of her
background. We never knew what was
missing.” As such, the family
moved and the children were raised in a mostly white, suburban area of Torrance,
“I was one of four girls in an abusive and alcoholic
family. I’m the only one who
graduated high school and college. I
felt if I went back it would affect me, and I would be caught again in a routine
of abuse and failure.” She never
allowed this to happen.
Leader’s first film, “Tanto
Tiempo” (So Much Time) debuted in August 1992, and is the moving story of
a young Mexican/American woman. Mia,
and her mother, Luz abandon their heritage to adapt into an American lifestyle.
Confronted with her past, Mia rediscovers the value of her Aztec ancestry
and brings it and Luz back into her life. The
project was a healing process for Leader. “I’m
trying to get in touch with that (the Latina) side of me, because that makes me
whole; it makes me one person.”
Although written in four days, prepped in five weeks, and
shot in an amazing eleven locations in five days, the film has garnered a
plethora of awards including: MCA/Universal Television’s Hispanic Film
Project, the CINE Golden Eagle Award, the National Gold Apple, and Best Short
Film in Chicago’s Latino Film Festival and San Jose’s “Cinequest” Film
In 1993, Leader founded INDIVISION
(short for Independent Vision), a television and film production company
dedicated to producing high quality entertainment and enriching stories with
positive multi-cultural images.
While at INDIVISION,
Leader produced and directed “Healthy
Babies” (Bebes Saludables) that focused on the importance of prenatal care
for Latinas. The video production
was based on a 1992 March of Dimes report which studied the problem of the lack
of access to prenatal care for the Latino community. The video, an Award of Excellence winner in San Jose, as well
as three public service announcements, was produced through a contract awarded
by the City of Long Beach, and was completed in both Spanish and English
targeting women in their teens, mid-twenties and early forties.
Leader’s plate will be full for the next several months. INDIVISION
is currently working with CBS to develop “The Yale Murder,” a true crime
story, and “Hot Tamales!,”a half hour sitcom about two strong Latina
business women. In addition, the
company seeks to develop “La Perla,”
a feature film, by the end of the year in Galveston, Texas.
A former athlete, Leader credits her strong visual ability
and infinite determination to her own gymnastics training.
“Mentally preparing my body to do aerodynamic feats has crossed over to
transferring my thoughts and ideas into direct visual forms on film or tape.
And, if my stories can inspire thought and create awareness in others, I
Throughout her inspirational career, Cheryl Quintana Leader has been just that: a leader that has shown – and that continues to prove – that the legend of the fourth sun goddess does not have to be the end of anyone’s story; we all have tanto tiempo in which to make a difference. “What it all comes down to is really simple. It’s about people of all ethnicities coming up to me and saying, ‘That’s my story.’ I tell them, “Your story needs to be heard. So find a way to share it with everyone.”