Sitting in the audience at the 2013 Streamy Awards last Sunday, Maiah Ocando and Gabriel Torrelles couldn’t believe their show “Visto Bueno” was being nominated alongside some of the biggest names in the social media world.
Maiah, the host of “Visto Bueno,” and Gabriel, the executive producer, started the network “Planetaurbe” which “Visto Bueno” is featured on, in an effort to create a space for the young girls of Venezuela to discuss fashion and beauty advice for any size, on any budget. Started in 2011, this show follows Maiah as she shares tips and tricks for making an outfit with clothes found in your closet and borrowed pieces from your mum and boyfriend.
“Visto Bueno” has become a major YouTube channel in Venezuela, recognized on several media platforms in their country. Maiah and Gabriel made the decision earlier this year to make the move to the United States to explore the full potential of their channel and along the way picked up Streamy nominations for “Best International Series” and “Audience Choice Series of the Year.” Chatting over ice cream sandwiches, Maiah and Gabriel shared with NMR the challenges of moving to America and learning English, their passion for reaching girls worldwide and the shock of having their spanish speaking channel considered for a Streamy awards.
Can you tell me a little bit about the show? How did you come about creating it?
Maiah Ocando: It’s a show about facing the problems that we all have when you open your closet and you are like “Oh I don’t have anything to wear!” Like, you have a full closet but nothing fits you, nothing works for you so maybe you are doing it wrong when you buy your stuff. We try with “Visto Bueno” to help people. I think “Visto Bueno” is kind of a social world for the girls that watch the show because we try to guide them to find the best clothes for themselves. It’s not just about clothes, it’s about feeling great with yourself and finding the way, the best way, to look great in every situation of your life. It is thought that fashion is something for rich people and cool people and it’s not true because you have to get dressed everyday! Fashion is for everybody so you have to find a way for yourself to be your best self.
Gabriel Torrelles: In new media you find a lot of shows about yourself and about fashion. The difference between “Visto Bueno” and another show is, we came from a country, Venezuela. Venezuela is a contradictory country because we are full of oil, we are a rich country but all the people there are so poor. It’s difficult for us to find dollars, you know? The way to find clothes is all the clothes come from the United States, so it’s difficult. We need to improvise to get ourselves dressed. Here in the YouTube world, it’s just about, well, this looks great. With our show the whole idea is this looks great, this also looks great but maybe you don’t have the money to afford this so you need to maybe use that, borrow that, steal that and combine everything!
MO: Steal from your mother or your boyfriend not like stealing!
GT: And make the perfect combination. It is a hit in Venezuela, everybody is talking about it in huge media, in traditional media, TV, newspaper, magazines. Maiah was on the covers of a lot of magazines there so we think this is strong enough. So maybe, it is time to make some kind of cross over to the United States. We said ‘let’s try it.’ First we need to learn English. We are studying here. With all that in mind, we came here and said let’s fill out the Streamy form.
MO: But that was like no way!
GT: We never believed that, so one day we were in New York making a video for another show and we receive the email that said you guys were nominated. And we said ‘what?!’
MO: What?! Why!? (laughs)
GT: So they told us that’s International Series and we say ‘okay, that’s cool,’ International Series, you know “The Artist” was in the Oscars so okay we have a shot, we could win. Then 3 weeks ago, we received another email that said okay, guys Series of the Year. What the F! (laughs)
MO: No no no there is some trick here!
GT: We felt really overwhelmed to be here because we are just a couple of Venezuelans and this is just a dream for us.
MO: We are like new in everything, it’s a different way of communication just because language is different, that is like an exact obstacle for us so we are trying to, starting all over again, it’s hard but it’s great.
Why did you guys originally turn to YouTube?
MO: Because you’re free to do whatever you want. In television in Venezuela, every girl is a certain type of girl, about this tall and huge in every place, I didn’t fit that type of girl, so in Internet I have the freedom of making whatever I want and not being stopped because of the way I looked.
GT: Two years ago, we create the first TV network for YouTube people in Venezuela, it’s called Planetaurbe so we made a huge break between traditional media and new media. We made that. We weren’t aware of why we need to pay a huge server for streaming in a country in which the broadband didn’t work, the server don’t work, so we turned to YouTube because it’s free, it’s easy, we just need to follow the rules, use your own music, create your own brand and collaborate with some other people, that’s the whole idea. We love YouTube right now. YouTube is freedom, it’s craziness. It’s an easy way to make your dreams come true, that is why the internet is.
What are you guys working on now?
MO: We think maybe we will be release the new show in two weeks on the 29th. This isn’t just a Venezuelan girl problems but it’s a world problem. All the girls are messed up, every girl, in every country and I can help them!
GT: We are trying to make the concept more international but still in spanish because that’s our core right now, that’s where we got the force and all the reasons are based on.
What did it mean to you guys to be nominated for something like The Streamys?
MO: Crazy! Now, I don’t believe it because I don’t know, I feel like I didn’t belong there, it was weird.
GT: Our mothers are really excited. (laughs) It was overwhelming.
MO: They were like watching The Streamy and say that looks like an Oscar. It looks great on the live stream. Larry King was there! Oh my god that was weird!
GT: Two years without a Streamy, it seems like something happened in Venezuela that maybe we’re introducing ourselves in this kind of award. The mix between new media and traditional media is crazy.Larry King was beaten by Philip DeFranco who also beat me so we are like one degree of separation of Larry King. We are so flattered for being nominated.