Social Media Strategist & Content Creator: Sasha Zavala

Living Latina is a series telling the stories of amazing Latinas that are in our life. They are models for Cadena, friends of Cadena and overall women we greatly admire.

We were excited to work on a Dia de los Muertos campaign that showcased the in-between of two worlds, our Mexican-American identity and the experience of feeling ni de aqui, ni de alla. When it came down to considering different models that would showcase this campaign we thought of Sasha after mutually following each other on Instagram for sometime. Her lightheartedness and kind demeanor always drew us into her posts and stories and we knew she would be perfect! The photoshoot for the campaign turned out to be more than perfect, we created magic. We wanted to get to know Sasha beyond her Instagram profile and hope you'll get to know more about her too!

1. We worked on a campaign with you that showcased the pride and love we have for our Mexican culture. Oftentimes, that means accepting a bicultural identity where we feel that we’re not from here, nor there (ni de aqui, ni de alla). What does ni de aqui, ni de alla mean to you?

I moved to the US when I was a teenager. I was 13 and without the most useful skill needed to establish a foundation: English. Although learning the language was the goal of my transition, since then my goals have changed. Now at 26, I have lived half of my life in the US and the other in the country where my family still lives and calls home, Mexico. Yet, for me “ni soy de aqui, ni de alla.” I used to live in a small town where I was the only Hispanic in my class, which meant that I had to learn English to somewhat normalize my life. I struggled through the way, but I learned English and immersed myself into the US culture to balance my American experience. I immersed myself so much to the point that I now have broken Spanish and sometimes struggle to remember words while speaking with my parents. However, no matter how broad my English is, I still don’t know how to pronounce some words and I still have an accent that moves with me everywhere I go, making people wonder where I am from. Having this dilemma has always pushed me to be the best version of myself, and to work as hard as I can. We all have our own story, our own struggles, being ni de aqui, ni de alla doesn't mean you should feel inferior. Instead it means that we are PRESENT, and writing our own story the best way we can, both in English and in Spanish.

2. Family is an extremely important part of our cultura. We embrace our relationship with them and make them a priority in everything we do. What does your family mean to you?

 My family is everything to me. They are my rock and the people who I work for and try to be the best version of myself. They are my support system to move forward in life, and the only people who I want to make proud. My parents still live in Mexico, and my closest family lives in a different state. It's hard to not be able to see them as often as I can. Yet, I know that they are a call away.

3. Tell us about your cultural background. Where are you from?

I am from the city of Irapuato, Guanajuato in Mexico. Irapuato is known to be the city of the strawberry. 

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We all have our own story, our own struggles, being ni de aqui, ni de alla doesn't mean you should feel inferior. Instead it means that we are PRESENT, and writing our own story the best way we can, both in English and in Spanish.

4. Cultura has become everything to us because we have learned to embrace who we are by where we come from and the traditions and experiences that make us unique. Would does culture mean to you?

In short, culture is what you are born with, what you are taught and stays with you forever. It comes in many forms, music, art, food, language, etc. My culture was taught to me by my ancestors and family. It was shown to me through school and it was celebrated by the world. My Mexican culture is colorful and loud, yet it's warm and resilient. We value family and hard work. We honor our ancestors and we are not afraid of death. We have the world's most eccentric gastronomy and the most beautiful natural and manmade sceneries. We are welcoming and friendly, but overall we are unique and unapologetic.

5. How do you show off your culture?

I grew up in a very cultural family, we always loved being immersed in music, dance and art. One of my uncles used to be a professional Mexican folklore dance teacher and performed all around Mexico, showcasing all the different regional dances that each state has. Although I was young, I was fortunate to learn from him before made my move to the US. As the only Hispanic in my high school, and despite not knowing English, I always tried to share a bit of who I was everywhere I went through music, food, language or dance! For the past few years, I’ve been honored to showcase my culture through my God-given talents, while dancing during my Spanish classes, Hispanic Heritage month in college, at Cinco de Mayo or Fiestas Patrias at restaurants. Dance has been there to ground me and remind me of who I am. Fast forward to what I do now as a marketing professional and content creator and I try to prioritize partnerships with Hispanic and minority-owned small businesses. There is nothing more rewarding than to raise awareness and tell the stories of these individuals in a manner that I understand. There is always a story behind the story, and somebody that left everything, to give it all. 

Dia de los Muertos - Sasha Zavala

6. How did your upbringing impact and shape who you are now? 

My upbringing has absolutely shaped who I am today. At an early age, my parents put me in all the extracurricular classes that I could be in, from dance, art to music. I was always BUSY, always a social butterfly, always surrounded by my family and friends. Back then, I didn't know that these teachings and memories would help me in life when the quiet times came. Experiencing cultural shock at an early age, where I felt like I was being uprooted and planted somewhere else. My first two years in the US were the hardest, coming from being a social butterfly to being a mime. I worked so hard to not let it affect me emotionally, yet everything was so different despite the efforts from my older sister to help me in any way possible. I call these two years my grown up years. I learned to be independent, self-reliant, kind, and overall persistent. My persistence has taken me to where I am today, being the first in my family to graduate with a bachelor’s and a master’s degree.

7. What is next for you and how can we support and champion you?

I run a platform called @newtodallasguide where I love to showcase new up and coming businesses in the DFW area. My passion lies in showcasing the stories and new initiatives that small business owners have while going through the journey. I hope to keep serving as a platform for Dallasites to find what there is to do in Dallas. As for my personal brand, I run a lifestyle blog called where I share my love of beauty, fashion, gastronomy, and travel. I hope to expand this name to something bigger where I am able to help even more women feel confident. Fun fact: a new project is in the works, so I hope to release it in 2021. Stay tuned!

Sasha, where can we keep up with you?
Instagram: @sashazavala & @newtodallasguide

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