Meet the Fellow: Samanta Helou Hernandez

One of the greatest characteristics of journalists is their desire to preserve history. These scribes and historians are the people who have an incessant need to make sure that life does not go unnoticed. They are the people who have braved dangerous and extraordinary circumstances to ensure that a moment in time, a group of people and an issue of importance is forever remembered. Samanta Helou Hernandez is one of these historians.

Samanta is a multimedia journalist based in East Hollywood, California. The face of that city is changing rapidly, where many neighborhoods are gentrifying at the cost of displacement for the argued sake of modernity. Samanta has been documenting the change faces of Virgil Village, East Hollywood through beautiful portraits she posts to her Instagram account. She photographs men and women who moved to the neighborhood generations ago and interviews them on how the changes in the community is affecting them. Samanta started this documentary project, in part, she says, because she wants people to understand the context of the community so that people are better informed of how gentrification occurs and who it affects.

It was with this mindset that she applied for the Adelante Fellowship from the IWMF. She sees a lot of parallels with the cultural and economic displacement that residents in East Hollywood are facing with artists in Honduras. And armed with her 35mm camera, she’s excited to learn more and document the experiences of this community through powerful portraits. 

– Natalia Aldana, Adelante Honduras Fellow, 2019