Aligning the stars in East Los High: How authentic characters and storylines can translate into real-life changes through transmedia edutainment
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionSEARCH Journal of Media and Communication Research. 2019, 11 (3), 1-22.
The present article analyses the creative production processes and audience reception aspects of East Los High, an exemplary Hollywood-based edutainment initiative that purposely leveraged transmedia storytelling to address highly salient issues—teen pregnancy and reproductive health —for Latinx youth in the United States. We investigate how East Los High’s creative team and subjectmatter specialists aligned the transmedia narrative—comprising of an edutainment web series and nine digital extensions—with its social objectives. We do so by drawing on a treasure trove of data sources—personal interviews with the creators, writers, and executive producers of East Los High; archival analysis of various project materials; a web-based audience survey of 202 viewers with an in-depth qualitative and quantitative analysis of responses to the open-ended questions. Our analysis suggests that the creative process to develop richly-textured characters and plot lines in East Los High was guided by an uncompromising attention to information accuracy and cultural authenticity and accomplished its purpose of being perceived as a programme by, of, and for Latinx Americans.