Born in Harlem to Dominican parents, filmmaker, producer, and award-winning writer Raquel Cepeda is the author of "Bird of Paradise: How I Became Latina." Bird is equal parts memoir about Cepeda’s coming of age in New York City and Santo Domingo, and detective story chronicling her year-long journey to discover the truth about her ancestry. The book also looks at what it means to be Latinx today.
Cepeda’s latest film, La Madrina: The Savage Life of Lorine Padilla, premiered virtually at DOC NYC on November 11, 2020, and also won the festival’s Audience Award. Directed, written, and produced by Cepeda, the documentary follows a beloved South Bronx matriarch and former “First Lady” of the Savage Skulls gang as she struggles to remain visible in a rapidly gentrifying community she helped rebuild in the 1980s.
Cepeda’s documentary film, Some Girls, focuses on a group of troubled Latina teens from a Bronx-based suicide prevention program who are transformed by an exploration of their roots via the use of ancestral DNA testing, followed by a trip to the seat of the Americas. On that journey to modern-day Dominican Republic, the white supremacist narratives about American history they’ve been taught are challenged, leaving them free to reconstruct their own respective identities.
Cepeda co-created the podcast "Our National Conversation About Conversations About Race," also known as "About Race," which debuted in late March 2015 as part of The Slate Group’s Panoply Network. She directed and produced the NAMIC (National Association for Multi-ethnicity In Communications) Vision nominated film Bling: A Planet Rock, a documentary about American hip-hop culture’s obsession with diamonds and all of its social trappings, and how the infatuation with “blinging” became intertwined in Sierra Leone’s decade-long conflict.
For more than two decades, Cepeda’s writings have been widely anthologized and her byline has been featured in media outlets including The New York Times, People, the Associated Press, The Village Voice, MTV News, CNN.com, and many others. A former magazine editor, Cepeda edited the critically acclaimed PEN/Beyond Margins winning anthology And It Don’t Stop: The Best Hip-Hop Journalism of the Last 25 Years.
On November 25, 2014, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, Cepeda was presented with an award from celebrated Dominican artist German Perez at the United Nations. The plaque reads: The permanent mission of the Dominican Republic to the United Nations recognizes Raquel Cepeda for the courage reflected in her literature, her commitment to denouncing violence against women, and her work in helping young women’s empowerment.
Cepeda was an honoree at the 2016 Dominican Day Parade, and sits on the board of City Lore and the Style Wars Restoration Project. Cepeda serves on New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Latin Media and Entertainment Commission in the capacity of Strategic Advisor in positioning her beloved city as a global capital for the Latinx media and entertainment industry.
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Please Note: All American Speakers Bureau is a full-service talent booking agency providing information on booking Raquel Cepeda for speaking engagements, personal appearances and corporate events. Contact an All American Speakers Bureau booking agent for more information on Raquel Cepeda speaking fees, availability, speech topics and cost to hire for your next live or virtual event.
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