September 4, 2020

Vanessa Díaz

Harvard Book Store's virtual event series welcomes VANESSA DÍAZ—jounalist, multimedia ethnographer, and assistant professor in the Department of Chicana/o and Latina/o Studies at Loyola Marymount University—for a discussion of her book Manufacturing Celebrity: Latino Paparazzi and Women Reporters in Hollywood. She will be joined in conversation by JONATHAN ROSA, Associate Professor of Education, Comparative Race and Ethnic Studies at Stanford University.


In Manufacturing Celebrity Vanessa Díaz traces the complex power dynamics of the reporting and paparazzi work that fuel contemporary Hollywood and American celebrity culture. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork, her experience reporting for People magazine, and dozens of interviews with photographers, journalists, publicists, magazine editors, and celebrities, Díaz examines the racialized and gendered labor involved in manufacturing and selling relatable celebrity personas.

Celebrity reporters, most of whom are white women, are expected to leverage their sexuality to generate coverage, which makes them vulnerable to sexual exploitation and assault. Meanwhile, the predominantly male Latino paparazzi can face life-threatening situations and endure vilification that echoes anti-immigrant rhetoric. In pointing out the precarity of those who hustle to make a living by generating the bulk of celebrity media, Díaz highlights the profound inequities of the systems that provide consumers with 24/7 coverage of their favorite stars.

About Author(s)

Vanessa Díaz is a multimedia ethnographer and journalist whose work focuses on issues of race, gender, and labor in popular culture across the Americas. Díaz is a co-author of UCLA’s 2017 Hollywood Diversity Report, director of the film Cuban HipHop: Desde el Principio, and the media editor for Transforming Anthropology. Her research has been profiled in such outlets as the Atlantic and the Los Angeles Times. Díaz is an assistant professor in the Department of Chicana/o and Latina/o Studies at Loyola Marymount University.

Jonathan Rosa is Associate Professor of Education, Comparative Race and Ethnic Studies, and, by courtesy, Anthropology and Linguistics, at Stanford University. He is author of the book Looking like a Language, Sounding like a Race: Raciolinguistic Ideologies and the Learning of Latinidad (2019, Oxford University Press) and co-editor of the volume Language and Social Justice in Practice (2019, Routledge). His work has been published in scholarly journals such as the Harvard Educational ReviewAmerican EthnologistJournal of Linguistic Anthropology, and Language in Society, as well as featured in media outlets including the New York TimesThe NationNPR, and Univision.