Jazmín Aguilera is a fearless trailblazer. She fell into journalism by accident, landed on her feet, and hit the road running.
Jazmín grew up in Santa Cruz, California, between two worlds that felt far apart: having Mexican parents who immigrated to the United States and being first generation American. She spoke spanish at home and english outside, but she bridged the gap reading and collecting Archie Comics. At 5, she realized they translated American culture and helped her learn a new language. She also learned to play piano, guitar and a little bass.
In high school she was politically active and became painfully aware of structural and systemic injustice. After college, she decided to put her argumentative skills and social concerns to good use and become a paralegal. “I wanted to be a lawyer” she says, “but working at a law firm I got disillusioned and angry”. So Jazmín went on Craigslist and saw that SnapJudgement, one of her favorite podcasts, was looking for an office manager in the Bay Area. She applied and got in. That’s when the accident happened: she loved the medium. Storytelling through voice sounded like music. It was powerful, emotional and intimate.
In the following months Jazmín taught herself to edit, produce and mix, and started pitching stories. Between 2013 and 2019 she produced stories for SnapJudgement (WNYC), including “This is not a drill”, about the 2018 false ballistic missile threat in Hawaii.
Today she is an audio producer fellow at The Daily, a narrative news podcast by The New York Times.
During our HEFAT training in Mexico city, a group of us spoke about podcasts. I mentioned morning commutes in Caracas religiously listening to The Daily, and someone spoke about Jazmín’s work. After listing our favorite episodes we realized she had produced most of them.
At our self-defense lessons, Jazmín threw the most powerful punches every time. Later, talking about podcast stories that never made it on air, she argued for them with the same energy. “I had to fight my way into the industry, because I wasn’t an intern and I didn’t get a job as a journalist”, she says. Whether it’s during a HEFAT training or at beat-making session in the studio, there’s impressive firepower in every stroke.
Jazmín still collects colorful Archie comic books. That’s how she rolls: remaining loyal to the stories that helped her connect to the world and translate it to those she loves.
I am sincerely thankful for getting to know her and wish her infinite adventures in storytelling.
At the 2020 Mexico / Guatemala IWMF Adelante Fellowship, Jazmín Aguilera and Devi Lockwood are working on a story about plagiarism of indigenous designs.
-Helena Carpio Fiasse, 2020 Adelante Mexico Fellow