The founder of the Light Leaks is advocating for diversity in Hollywood — both on screen and behind the scenes.

Kim Hoyos has an incredibly varied taste in TV shows. "I really love Diary of a Future President, and I also really loved Vida," the 25-year-old Colombian American tells People CHICA. "Vida's third season was entirely directed by female directors and throughout their three seasons had all Latinx writers' rooms. Diary of a Future President has a particularly diverse writers' room as well."

That devotion to diversity in television and film is what inspired Hoyos to launch the Light Leaks, a platform for the empowerment of female and nonbinary filmmakers, in 2017. "As a filmmaker myself, I wasn't really seeing spaces in the classroom or online that I could connect with other female and nonbinary creators who could understand my work better, who could teach me things, and who I could teach, as well," she explains. "The Light Leaks came together because I was trying to find a way that I could use what I already knew how to do in social media, in online community building, and in knowing what creators like me needed, to form a hub where female and nonbinary filmmakers could be supported, empowered, and inspired." 

Today, the Light Leaks provides its fanbase with guides on everything from screenwriting to producing, along with a host of thought-provoking articles, job listings, and interactive online workshops. The goal of it all is to give up-and-coming filmmakers the resources — and confidence — they need to break into the industry.

Kim Hoyos
Credit: Kim Hoyos

As a first-generation Latina, the struggle toward industry acceptance is one Hoyos knows well. "The statistics of female filmmakers in the industry, if you were to look at what a female filmmaker would be, it's a white woman. Because I'm a Latina woman, I'm looking at how the things I'm making can create more space for the Latinx community, but also other communities I'm not part of," she says of her work. "The point is to be broad enough to relate to any woman or nonbinary filmmaker, but also to have multicultural elements where creators with specific identities can feel welcome and think, 'This is not a whitewashed, very specific view of diversity and inclusion.'"

It's a strange time to navigate life as a small business owner, but Hoyos says the pandemic's standstill has offered a few silver linings. One of her 2020 highlights came in the form of a staff of 12 volunteers who assist the Light Leaks with social media posts, producing content, and more. 

"I wouldn't have had the time [to build a team] before, and with the environment of what was happening in 2020, that just made people want to find work that was flexible, that was community-oriented," she says. "I hear the same things from the people who joined. It's like, 'I wanted to be able to connect and make friends, I wanted to be around other female and nonbinary creators.' Some are like, 'I know this can get me experience that I don't have fulfillment with in my job right now.' It's been great, and a lot of people are learning these skills for the first time."

In Hoyos's mind, there's still plenty of work to do before the Light Leaks reaches its full form. "There are a lot of things that I'm learning now for the first time that I've theoretically been like, 'Oh, yeah, I wish I could do that. One day I want to have an editorial calendar with all the content for social media,' and it's like, now I'm doing that," she says. But it's not always smooth sailing: "Right now I'm going through a lot of imposter syndrome stuff," she shares.

Kim Hoyos
Credit: Larry McAllister II

In those moments of doubt, Hoyos brings her mind back to the bigger picture. At the end of the day, the Light Leaks exists to amplify the discourse around diversity in Hollywood, both on screen and behind the scenes. "I want to be able to think of any genre of film and be able to name something that's led by a Latinx cast," she says of the future of representation. "It's a matter of being able to see diverse casts and inclusive casts as normal storytelling. And on the creator-focused side, making sure communities whose stories are on full display are accurate behind the scenes and benefiting from that art."

Right now, Hoyos is preparing to celebrate the Light Leaks' fifth birthday. In the half-decade she's spent growing her business, she's learned a thing or two about following her dreams. "Making a career out of your passion is about, honestly, being self-aware and knowing your situation fully," she says. "Does your passion require schooling? Do you need to get a certification? What are the steps for you to get there?" 

Above all else, she wants other Latinas to know that persistence is key in any professional (or personal) journey. "If you're someone who can weather the storm, that's going to be important," she says. "Whether you're an entrepreneur or your passion is medicine and you're working toward med school, you're going to need that endurance of being able to get back up again."

For more with Kim, look for the March issue of People en Español, on stands now.