Welcome to Intriguing People 2018, our annual celebration of Las Vegas’ cultural trailblazers and social trendsetters. See more from this year’s series here.
Viridiana Vidal couldn’t sit by as immigrants were called everything from rapists to drug dealers and being told they were a drain on society. After all, she’s an immigrant too.
“It was really painful to hear someone say, ‘Mexico sends its worst,’” Vidal says. “I can’t listen while someone says I’m not contributing or my mother is not contributing [to society].”
The three-time Emmy-winning journalist refused to be silent as slurs grew and intensified.
“This administration has attacked every part of who I am,” she says. “As a woman, an immigrant and a journalist, it is very personal to me.”
For the last year, Vidal hasn’t taken those attacks in stride. If a progressive group has organized a demonstration for immigrants’ rights, hosted a panel to discuss health care or spoken out about women’s rights, Vidal probably had a role in it. She is the founder of La Firma, which offers media strategies and communications campaigns for progressive nonprofits.
Through storytelling, Vidal and her communications firm (which has two other former journalists on staff) have been able to help progressive organizations spread their messages. “It feels like I’m using a lot of the same skills I used as a journalist,” she says. “Instead of doing the reporting, it feels like I’m on the assignment desk helping reporters with stories.”
When Vidal was 18, she received her green card and came to Las Vegas, where her mother had lived for the last nine years. She has worked at Univision and Telemundo, covering everything from politics to immigration.
“When things heated up with immigration in 2016, I felt weird writing about it,” she says. “I was impacted by so much of it that I felt I couldn’t be centered.”
She temporarily worked with America’s Voice, which focuses on immigration reform, before starting her firm at the end of 2016. The first year proved to be a never-ending battle, but she is determined to continue the fight into 2019 and the midterm elections—a good opportunity to push back.
No matter how things might change over the next few years, there is always something to fight for, meaning La Firma could have a long shelf life.
“If Trump wins again [in 2020], we will continue fighting for people’s rights,” Vidal says. “Even if someone more progressive wins, the work becomes something else, like keeping our representatives accountable. Either way, we have work to do.”
Vidal takes over the Vegas Seven Instagram story for a peek into her work and daily life. Watch it at @vegasseven.