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Diana Peralta’s De Lo Mio Is a Love Letter to Dominican Culture



sasha merci and darlene demorizi in de lo mio

In De Lo Mio, Diana Peralta’s camera moves slowly, smoothly, and sublimely across a lush Dominican landscape, as close-knit Dominican-American sisters Carolina and Rita come face to face with family demons on a visit to DR. The two young New Yorkers—played by Like, Share, Dímelo hosts and real-life, Bronx-raised best friends Darlene Demorizi and Sasha Merci—connect with their estranged older brother, Dante (played by the prolific Dominican actor Héctor Aníbal), as they await the demolition of their deceased father’s childhood home.

Peralta filmed De Lo Mio, her debut feature, in less than two weeks, but she took her time. The shots are generous and sensual. There’s a cinematic luxury to Carolina lounging on a wicker chair surrounded by tall fern plants, or Dante and Rita sitting by a jade-green waterfall. Same for the specific intimacy between Afro-Dominican women when it comes to our hair, as Rita washes and braids Carolina’s curls. The aging but splendid house—Peralta’s actual grandparents’ home in the Cibao region—is engulfed in joyful daylight and rich vegetation. It’s a house that’s loved, but one that also contains family history, heartache, and loss. Demorizi and Merci’s chemistry onscreen is fluid and electric; you share in their laughter when they try on their grandmother’s wigs or playfully dance to old records. The resentment is very real when Dante rages at his sisters for not appreciating his sacrifices. Where were they when their abuela lay dying?

To produce her award-winning first feature, Peralta, who studied film and works as a freelance producer in advertising, started from the bottom and worked across. She enlisted former classmates from her alma mater, Johns Hopkins University, to join her crew. Her younger sister Michelle served as a co-producer. They skipped the typical grants route and directly contacted prosperous Latinx benefactors to invest in the film. Sometimes, a clear-cut approach and bold hustle gets your movie made.

In De Lo Mio, the 31-year-old writer and director depicts the mosaic layers of being Dominican-American while immersing yourself in your parent’s homeland. The Dominicanisms in De Lo Mio are abundant, and those of us who know revel in the nuances onscreen because, as the film’s title suggests, they’re ours: Asking for “una fria” in a local bar and getting handed an icy Presidente. Criticism from family members for having “un greño” when we enjoy wearing our curly hair natural. That seamless, flawless way of jumping from English to Spanish to Spanglish, padded with Dominican slang, because that’s just us and it fits. I can’t wait to see what Peralta, a native New Yorker and daughter of the Dominican diaspora, brings next. Read on as we discuss how De Lo Mio explores loss, filming inside sacred family space, and what Peralta’s doing to stay creative in quarantine.

De Lo Mio has universal themes of complicated family dynamics and resentment, as well as a specific lens—Dominican Yorkers visiting DR. Can you talk about portraying the authenticity of Dominican-American and Dominican culture onscreen?

De Lo Mio was inspired by my own experience as a first generation Dominican-American whose family has been divided by borders. I’m a born-and-raised New Yorker but spent a lot of time back and forth between New York City and the DR, so I grew up feeling deeply connected to both places. The film is a love letter to my Dominican and American identities. I wanted to celebrate both unique cultures but also talk about the clashes that can happen when they come together. It’s a complicated nuance but in order to portray this accurately, it was important for me to cast actors that are authentic to the culture. At the end of the day, even though my film is specific to Dominican culture, it’s also a very universal story. Everyone at some point will live through the aftermath of losing someone. Everyone can relate to that, no matter their background.

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How did you balance autobiographical elements but also create fiction while writing De Lo Mio?

De Lo Mio is fictional but heavily inspired by my experiences and relationship to the Dominican Republic. I lost both of my grandmothers when I was writing the screenplay, so the story around grief and a waning connection to the motherland and culture was something incredibly personal to me. I ended up shooting the film at my grandparents’ house as an homage to them and the place I grew up. I’m also really close with my two sisters, so I definitely pulled inspiration from our relationships in my writing. I basically tapped into all the memories I have of the beautiful people and places I was raised and created a backdrop for this fictional story I wanted to tell.

How did you choose what was sacred in your grandparents’ home and what could be shared in the film?

My grandparents’ house in Santiago is what inspired me to write the film in the first place. I spent every summer in that house and I always knew it was a beautiful and unique place. The rooms, sounds, objects, and people I experienced there became the foundation for my story. When my grandmother passed away shortly after I finished the script, I found out the house was going to be sold and demolished. That’s when things got real because there would be no movie without the house. Once I learned it was going to be gone forever, nothing was sacred. It was all or nothing for me. I selfishly wanted to capture every little detail of the place so I could never forget it. The house was my last physical connection to the island and I wanted to memorialize it all.

What responsibility did you feel in being an Afro-Dominican woman filmmaker directing two Afro-Dominican lead actresses?

It was really important for me to portray Afro-Dominican characters in an everyday, universal story like this. When we are represented in film and TV, our characters are usually wrapped up in some flat stereotype or cliché. I wanted to tell a story about family, love, and trauma where the characters just happen to be Black because that’s just who they are and that’s just who I am. We are just as regular, complex, and multi-dimensional as everyone else, and we deserve to have our stories told humanely and responsibly.

“The house was my last physical connection to the island and I wanted to memorialize it all.”

How did you translate Darlene and Sasha’s comedic chemistry into dramedy for the film?

De Lo Mio is a story about two ride-or-die sisters dealing with the loss of their family. It was important to portray an authentic relationship between sisters, and Sasha and Dee delivered. They are best friends IRL and grew up together, so they already had so much history and chemistry between them. My job was to hone in on that and create an environment where they felt inspired and safe to be themselves.

Part of that process meant making room for improvising. We would run the scenes together as written, but we always made time to get a few takes that were improvised. I would make sure they understood the key narrative and emotional hits of the scene, and then I would give them the space to act it out in their own words. We got some golden comedic moments out of them simply being themselves on camera. Sasha and Dee brought a lightness and joy to the story which balanced perfectly with some of the heavier themes of grief and loss.

Were there moments during writing or production that seemed impossible to push past?

There were a lot of logistical challenges that were tough to get through during the production. We had some pretty extreme time constraints. We had to shoot the entire thing in twelve days because that’s all our budget could afford. We also had the looming deadline of the house being sold. We had one shot to get this movie made and no option for reshoots. On top of it all, we ended up having to shoot during hurricane season. It was an extremely high-stakes situation for directing my first film, and I was a nervous wreck. I got through it by organizing myself and planning every single shot and angle that I needed to capture. I might’ve gone a little overboard with my level of planning, but I found a lot of comfort in the organization. Once I got on set, I just took it one shot at a time. Eventually, I was able to let go of the fear of failing and learned to trust myself. Sometimes you have to throw the plan out the window and just roll with it.

Sasha Merci and Darlene Demorizi in De Lo Mio.


How did your passion for filmmaking start? What are the films that influenced you?

I’ve been obsessed with movies since I was a kid. My dad is a cinephile and he created this routine of going to the movies every Sunday when I was growing up. Going to the movies was my family’s version of going to church. Sometimes we’d spend the entire day at the theater and sneak into a double or triple feature. I loved losing myself in the story. It wasn’t until I went to college and stumbled into the film department that I realized I could maybe make my own films. Getting my hands on a camera and learning to shoot changed everything.

It’s hard to pick a few influential films, but I’ll never forget the day I watched The Shining as a kid. That opened my eyes to the art of filmmaking. Filmmakers like Pedro Almódovar, Ava DuVernay, Agnès Varda, Spike Lee, Eliza Hittman, Sofia Coppola, and Wes Anderson have become huge inspirations for me later in life. They’re icons. I obsess over everything they make.

How are you managing self-care and creativity during these quarantined months?

I’m the type of person who thrives on a routine so I literally schedule my writing and relaxation into my calendar. It seems a little ridiculous but it works for me. I’ll set a timer, listen to music, daydream, and write whatever I feel inspired to write at that moment. My only goal is to make progress. As soon as the timer goes off, it’s strictly pencils down and I get on with my day. I try to keep it low pressure so I don’t burn myself out. I try to make time for moments of rest throughout the day. That can be taking a long walk, reading, eating a good meal. I live with my sisters and our puppy, so I’ve been in really good company. Every night we sit on the couch together, have a drink, and watch our favorite movies and TV shows. Our movie nights have been keeping me sane.

Have you thought about your next Black Latinx story?

I’m taking this time to explore and figure out what my next story is. It’s an exciting and scary position to be in because there are so many directions I can take. I don’t feel tied down to a specific genre, place, or type of story at the moment. Right now, I’m writing a thriller. Maybe I’ll tackle a love story next. Whatever it turns out to be, it will naturally be coming from a Black Latinx perspective because that’s who I am. I just want to continue to tell stories that inspire me without limitations.

Watch De Lo Mio on HBO Max now

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Prince Harry Is Reportedly ‘Heartbroken’ Over ‘Painful’ Separation from His Family



the duke and duchess of sussex visit canada house

Chris JacksonGetty Images

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle officially stepped out of their royal life in March 2020, and they’ve started a new life in Montecito, California. Per People, Journalist and author Tom Bradby said on ITV’s Love Your Weekend that Harry is feeling some complex feelings connected to his new life.

“I think they are feeling better, yes…So are they unhappy?,” he said. “No, I think they are content, the things they are doing they are quite excited by. I think he is heartbroken by the situation with his family, you don’t necessarily need to have knowledge to know that, but I think it is true.” Bradby didn’t directly reference the reported tension between Prince William and Harry.

“The situation with the family clearly isn’t ideal and it has been a very difficult year for them all,” he said.”But are they unhappy out there? No, I don’t think that’s right, I think they are pretty happy actually, but I think they wrestle with their position in life, I think they all do. I think William does too; I don’t think he finds it easy.” He added that there are “a lot of hurt feelings on all sides.” He continued: “I think the whole thing has just been incredibly painful; that is obvious to everyone. It is painful all round, painful for everyone, difficult to manage.”

He added: “You have got to remember this isn’t just a family; it’s a firm. They are in the business of public service on a very elevated, exposed platform and to some extent, they are all locked in it together. And that creates lots of tensions that people perhaps do see relatively clearly from the outside, but at the same time they are trying to be a family and I am always acutely conscious of that and how complicated and frankly difficult it is.”

Last year, Meghan revealed on a World Mental Health Day episode of the podcast Teenager Therapy that she has experienced cyber-bullying and trolling on a level that was “almost unsurvivable.”

“In 2019 I was the most trolled person in the entire world—male or female. Now, eight months of that I wasn’t even visible. I was on maternity leave or with a baby but was able to just be manufactured and churned out. It’s almost unsurvivable.”

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See How Kim Kardashian Celebrated Chicago’s Birthday, Complete With New Frog Pets



chicago west 3rd birthday

Chicago West, Kim Kardashian and Kanye West’s third child, turned 3 years old on Friday, and she celebrated with a lavish party. The toddler’s mom posted photos of her celebration on her story, and truly, the floral decor is on par with some weddings I’ve attended.

Based on the images, Chicago seems to really love two things: the color purple and frogs. There were tables of purple flowers, a stuffed rainbow frog, and…a tank of two frogs apparently named Elsa and Anna.

Kim Kardashian Instagram

chicago west birthday

Kim Kardashian Instagram

chicago west bday

Kim Kardashian Instagram

“My Chi Chi princess 👑 today you are three!!!,” Kardashian wrote in her birthday tribute for Chicago. “You have the sweetest little high voice that I could listen to all day! You bring so much magic into all of our lives. My heart is so full that you chose me to be your mommy ✨ I can’t wait to celebrate you with slime and LOL Dolls today! Happy Birthday Chicago.”

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In recent weeks and months, Kardashian has kept her Instagram focused on her latest work ventures and posts about her kids. But on January 5, Page Six reported that multiple sources had told them that divorce was “imminent” for the couple and parents of four.

“They are keeping it low-key but they are done,” one source said. “Kim has hired [top celebrity divorce attorney] Laura Wasser and they are in settlement talks.”

A source told People this week that this has been coming for a while and said that “the love story between Kim and Kanye has been over for a long time, more than a year. They adored each other but have too many differences.” Another source told the magazine that “Kim and Kanye’s marriage is beyond repair,” though Kim “isn’t in a rush to file for divorce. But it is on her mind.”

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Ranking the Best Theories About What’s Happening



wanda and vision in wandavision

By the end of 2020, the Marvel Cinematic Universe had started to feel a bit…stale. Part of what makes the superhero genre so universally captivating is its ability to go places that seem too far for other mediums. But by the end of Avengers: Endgame, the MCU was closing the door on a chapter that, no matter how wildly successful, had followed a series of predictable patterns. While that doesn’t make watching Tony Stark save the world any less satisfying, it does make it less nerdy. And no matter how mainstream superheroes get, there’s always a part of the genre that deserves its place in the realm of the nerd, where fan-fueled calculus thrives.

Now, with the explosion of new MCU series rolling out on Disney+ (at least four by the end of 2021), the superhero empire is reigniting fan theory fervor. When WandaVision dropped on January 15, the sitcom-turned-horror-show experiment heralded a bold new path for comic-book narratives. Turns out, superheroes can make for pretty hilarious sitcoms! But, most importantly, WandaVision—at least initially—seems intent on not spoon-feeding fans a story they’ve seen before. Which means, of course, that the fan theory machine is running hot.

WandaVision takes place after Endgame, and it stars Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany as a delightfully well-matched Wanda Maximoff and Vision, basking in newlywed (?) bliss in the quaint 1950s-era suburb of Westview. They don’t exactly know how they got here, or what they’re doing in the 1950s. But they roll with it: befriending neighbors, hosting talent shows, nearly spoiling dinner with Vision’s boss, and trying not to wither under the critical eye of local Karen, Dotty (Emma Caulfied Ford). But increasingly, Wanda has a feeling something isn’t right. She keeps hearing voices on the radio, and at the end of episode 2, she and Vision watch an ominous beekeeper rise from beneath a manhole cover.

New episodes drop every Friday, and as the puzzle pieces come together, we’re gathering the best fan theories from around the internet. Here, we’ll try to make sense of what’s happening to Wanda—and why it matters for the next phase of Marvel stories.

Marvel Studios/Disney+

Theory #1: WandaVision is a spin on the comics arc House of M.

If you’ve spent any time digging around Marvel fan forums, you’ve probably already stumbled on this theory. In 2005, Marvel Comics released a storyline called House of M, written by comics legend Brian Michael Bendis, in which an insane Scarlet Witch (aka Wanda Maximoff) has a mental breakdown and attempts to recreate the universe. You see, she’s lost her two children—Billy and Tommy—as well as her grip on reality. The other Avengers and X-Men (in the comics, Wanda is a mutant) realize they must consider killing Wanda, because her reality-shaping powers pose an enormous threat to humanity if she cannot recover her sanity. Yikes.

Hearing the news of her pending execution, Wanda creates a new world, an almost-perfect utopia where her children are alive, her superhero teammates are happy, and mutants rule the world. But it’s a dangerous lie, and when Wanda realizes what she’s done, she decides the solution is to rid the world of mutants like her. (You might have seen a comic panel circulating of Wanda whispering, “No more mutants.”) At that point, the majority of the mutant population lose their powers.


House of M by Brian Michael Bendis

It’s unlikely WandaVision will mirror House of M exactly, because at this point in the MCU, the X-Men and Avengers’ worlds have not yet collided. But it’s certainly possible that Wanda has created an alternate universe out of grief. If you remember the events of Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame, you’ll recall that Wanda is forced to kill Vision while extracting an Infinity Stone from his forehead. He does not return to life in Endgame, and she tells Thanos, “You took everything from me.”

It’s not far-fetched to think Wanda created a new universe after Endgame, one in which she lives a picture-perfect sitcom life with Vision. But perhaps, like in House of M, the real world is not as simple as it seems, and someone is trying to bring her back to her senses.

Theory #2: WandaVision will tie directly into Doctor Strange in The Multiverse of Madness.

This theory is less about if than how. Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige confirmed WandaVision will tie into the film, and Olsen will star alongside Benedict Cumberbatch in March 2022’s The Multiverse of Madness. So, what does that mean? Well, the theory of Wanda creating her own alternate reality within the multiverse is almost definitely true. And if she shows up in the next Doctor Strange, someone must pull her out of the sitcom-verse—and it could be the Master of the Mystical Arts himself.

Theory #3: Agnes is actually Agatha Harkness.

agnes in disney's wandavision

Marvel Studios/Disney+

Here’s one that requires you to know a bit more comic lore. You met Agnes (Kathryn Hahn), Wanda and Vision’s deliciously wry neighbor, in the WandaVision pilot. Sure, she could just be a quippy side-character, but it’s likely she has a more meaningful role in the series.

Several fans think she must be Agatha Harkness; in the comics universe, Harkness is an old (like, was-alive-before-the-sinking-of-Atlantis old) witch who escaped the Salem Witch Trials and went on to master mystical arts, later teaching them to a young Wanda Maximoff. In other points throughout the comics, she serves as Wanda’s antagonist, and she’s also the one who, after Wanda gives birth to twins Billy and Tommy, reveals to Wanda that the children are not, in fact, hers, but were born of more demonic origins. We don’t need to unpack all of that, but the point stands that Agatha has an important role in Wanda’s life—so it makes sense she’d appear in Wanda’s TV show.

Theory #4: The beekeeper is a S.W.O.R.D agent.

You probably noticed a particular symbol that pops up throughout the first two episodes of WandaVision: it appears on the miniature helicopter Wanda discovers in her rosebush, as well as on the suit of the terrifying beekeeper who rises out from the manhole. You could keep waiting for the show to reveal its secret, but most comic fans will recognize that logo immediately: It’s the symbol for S.W.O.R.D, otherwise known as the Sentient World Observation and Response Department. Basically, it’s S.H.I.E.L.D. but for Outer Space.

S.W.O.R.D was created alongside Nick Fury’s S.H.I.E.L.D to deal with extraterrestrial threats, much like the ones that plagued Tony Stark with nightmares after the events of the first Avengers. We know from Captain America: The Winter Soldier that Fury felt the need to up his arsenal after witnessing the many threats hurtling toward our little blue dot, and it’s extremely possible he created S.W.O.R.D sometime around or after Natasha Romanoff released S.H.I.E.L.D’s secrets into the universe.

So, then, who’s the beekeeper? One Reddit fan mentioned it’s likely a S.W.O.R.D agent. Possibly, it’s one wearing a hazmat suit. Once he entered Wanda’s picturesque reality, her mind changed the hazmat suit into a beekeeper’s suit to better fit the quaint suburban surroundings.

Another option? Beekeeper is part of AIM, an organization hell-bent on scientific discovery at all costs. We haven’t seen them since Iron Man 3, but since their goons wear hazmat suits and are sometimes referred to as “beekeeper guys” in the comics, it’s possible.

The other option is that Beekeeper is Swarm, a Marvel villain who fused his consciousness with a bunch of bees. But let’s hope not.

the beekeeper in wandavision

Marvel Studios/Disney+

Theory #5: The series’ big bads are either Mephisto or Nightmare.

Now let’s get deep into the weeds. WandaVision has given us little to no clues as to who its major antagonist will be this season—except for, perhaps, Agatha Harkness. But fans are skeptical Agatha will be the supreme villain. They expect a larger power at work.

The prevailing option seems to be Mephisto. His character has been around since the 1960s, and he’s based on the Mephistopheles of German legend. Basically, he’s a demon-like creature who’s often confused for Satan. He’s evil through and through, and he likes making the Avengers’ lives miserable. One key bit of context: In the comics, he was a servant of Thanos, much like Ronan and other big bads, and he can alter time. So it stands to reason that he’s manipulating Wanda, or that the two of them made some sort of pact—think of it as a deal with the devil. Perhaps, in return for Vision being brought back to life, Wanda agreed to enter Mephisto’s domain, and become trapped in his reality.

Or, we could be on the lookout for Nightmare, one of Doctor Strange’s core villains. He’s a demon and a ruler of the so-called Dream Dimension, where humans are brought during their hours sleeping. He feeds off the human need to dream and can, to some degree, control them through their subconscious. One clever Reddit user developed an entire theory around Nightmare’s inclusion in WandaVision. We’ll summarize it here:

  • Agatha Harkness is alive in the “real” world (aka, Earth-199999), but her child has recently died.
  • Nightmare has lost much of his powers due to the “snap” in Infinity War erasing much of humanity’s population.
  • Agatha promises to help keep Nightmare alive if he helps her get her son back.
  • Agatha meets a grieving Wanda after Endgame and, with the help of Nightmare, sends her into a dream world where she can live with Vision in peace.
  • Even with much of humanity restored, Nightmare isn’t strong enough to keep cracks from showing in his dream world, and that’s why Wanda gets the sense something isn’t right.
  • In the real world, Wanda is producing “energy surges” that spell trouble for the universe, so Nick Fury and S.W.O.R.D attempt to penetrate her mind to pull her out of the dream.
  • When they do pull her out, she’s so grief-stricken and enraged that she tears a hole in the fabric of reality, leading to the events of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.

    Theory #6: The folks in the WandaVision commercials are Wanda’s parents.

    Let’s tackle those fascinating commercials, shall we? Each promises a different Marvel Easter egg, and already, fans are dissecting screenshots for clues.

    In both “commercials” during episodes 1 and 2, a couple appear and advertise different products: The first is a Stark Industries toaster and the second is a Strücker watch. If you’re an avid MCU fan, you’ll of course know Stark Industries is Tony Stark’s company, and Strücker is the last name of Baron von Strücker, the Hydra leader who recruited Wanda and her brother Pietro before Age of Ultron and gave them their powers.

    Why is this significant? As one fan pointed out, the ads seem to be revisiting Wanda’s trauma: A Stark Industries bomb killed her parents, and Strücker corrupted Wanda and her brother.

    But who are the man and woman in the commercial? One Twitter user suggested they could be Wanda and Pietro’s deceased parents, alive again either in her memory or her dream universe.

    the man and woman in the commercials in wandavision

    Marvel Studios/Disney+

    Theory #7: Wanda and Vision’s children could pave the way for Young Avengers.

    At the end of episode 2, it’s revealed Wanda is pregnant, seemingly as if by magic, and we know from previously released trailers that she gives birth to twins. These are almost definitely her twins from the comics, Billy and Tommy Maximoff, who have superpowers similar to Wanda and Pietro’s—hex abilities and super-speed.

    Billy and Tommy are stupendous characters in their own right, and they eventually become leaders of the Young Avengers, another popular franchise that Marvel might have plans to cinema-tize. But they also have complicated origins: They’re actually created from fragments of a demon’s soul, and that realization is part of what originally drives Wanda insane during House of M.

    So what if some larger power wants Wanda to have children—and for those children to have something evil lurking within them? A Reddit fan mentioned how ominous it was for the denizens of Westview to repeat “for the children” prior to the talent show. Maybe Mephisto or Nightmare have crafted a sort of “incubator” for super-powered mutants. The MCU has done crazier things before.

    wanda and vision with wanda displaying her pregnant belly in wandavision

    Marvel Studios/Disney+

    Theory #8: Wanda will create mutant-kind.

    How about we go even bigger and bolder? If we know anything about the MCU, it’s that the creators aren’t afraid of ambitious storylines. Plus, more franchises = more $. And the X-Men franchise is a money-maker.

    Disney owns the rights to X-Men, which is why you’ll see those films on your Disney+ queue. So it’s probably not absurd to assume the Avengers MCU and the X-Men universe will eventually collide on the silver screen, as they do in the comics. WandaVision could be what makes that happen.

    One Reddit fan suggested that, after Wanda escapes from her sitcom reality and realizes Vision and her children aren’t real, she might have the ultimate mental break—one that results in the creation of mutants like her, spawning a bridge between her universe and the world of X-Men. Maybe it’s a stretch. But let’s just say I wouldn’t be surprised.

    This story will be updated each week after new episodes of WandaVision drop.

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