Self Made (In America)Cuban immigrant Nely Galán, believes every woman has the power to become a millionaire, and she can do it on her own.
The former—and first female Latina—president of Telemundo Entertainment, emigrated to the US when she was five-years-old. Since then, the Emmy award-winning producer has certainly made a dent in the world for herself and for multicultural women through a career focused on self-empowerment.
“I think [being] self made means you realize that there is no Prince Charming, no one is coming to save you; not a mate, not a boss, not the US government, no one is coming for you,” says Galán, who wrote a book called, Self Made: Becoming Empowered, Self-Reliant, And Rich In Every Way to share her story and teach women about entrepreneurship. “I’m very proud that I put on paper whats going on with women entrepreneurs, in particular women of color, who are crushing it in entrepreneurship and I think somebody needed to say that.”
Galán’s book includes information to help women face the challenges of business-ownership, including how to secure funds, an issue she faced throughout her own entrepreneurial pursuits.
“As a Latina, I was raised to never ask anyone for anything and I’ve had to really work on that,” says Galán. “One thing I found out is that there is all this hidden money for all of us and we don’t apply for it because there is an information gap.”
"...There is all this hidden money for all of us [women] but we don’t apply for it because there is an information gap"
For Galán, whose company, Galán Enterprises, has produced more than 700 shows in English and Spanish, and helped to launch 10 channels around the world, this is an unprecedented time for women, as there are so many modes for self-empowerment, especially entrepreneurship.
“When you realize you are able to take full responsibility for your financial well being, for your happiness, and for your emotional and career wellbeing, your life begins to change,” says Galán. “It’s a mindset, a desire to DIY and to realize you can do it, whether you are a man, woman or immigrant.”
To help women along the path to success, Galán founded The Adalante Movement, a platform dedicated to empowering the Latina community economically and entrepreneurially.
“‘Adelante’ is kind of like the Latino ‘Just Do It,” says Galán. “I [created] it because I wanted to give back and I started with my own community.”
"In Your Pain Is Your Brand"
Certainly, the road to Galán’s success wasn’t an easy one, as it began with fleeing her home country and starting over in a foreign land.
“I am an immigrant,” says Galán. “My parents lost everything. We were in the middle of a communist regime and we left with the shirts on our back. I’ve experienced the trauma of leaving my country, my parents being depressed, coming to a new country where none of us speak the language.”
It was thanks to the kindness of a family that took in Galán and her parents, that she was able to find her footing, eventually becoming the in-house family “translator,” a common role for immigrant children.
“I had the experience of so many people who immigrate around the world,” she says. "Being an immigrant gives you an edge over anyone else because it makes you grateful. We’ve come from far worse places. We have a drive and a work ethic and an appreciation that helps us succeed.”
“I think self made means you realize that there is no Prince Charming, no one is coming to save you; not a mate, not a boss, not the US government, no one is coming for you."
Galán’s advice for women looking to build their own business is that slow and steady wins the race.
“Don’t do anything until you have two years of salary saved, one year for a rainy day and one to invest in real estate or stocks, or something that will make you money when you sleep,” she says. “If you’re in survival mode, living pay check to pay check, you cannot leave your job and become an entrepreneur.”
She also advises women not to run from the pain they may have experienced in their lives, but to embrace it, and capitalize on it as she did. “In your pain is your brand,” says Galán. “Your pain is not there to keep you from success but to make you an expert to turn your pain into profit. I have all that pain and the trauma of immigration, and I’ve made a lot of money making TV shows about immigrants and their kids.”
Most importantly, Galán advises that anyone looking to follow in her footsteps starts small, taking just one hour a week to try out entrepreneurship.
“Feel good about doing something small in the shared economy, it is just as important as Sara Blakley inventing Spanx and getting into a billion dollar company,” says Galán, who advises women to do small things like driving an Uber or selling clothes from their closet to get a taste what feeling self made feels like. “Just start. Don’t think much further than that.”
“If you’re in survival mode, living pay check to pay check, you cannot leave your job and become an entrepreneur.”
For Galán, who lives in a the country’s most Instagrammed house, a brightly painted contemporary along California’s Venice Canals, staying grateful and lighthearted are how she stays grounded.
“It’s almost impossible to be stressed out and unhappy in my house because it always makes me happy,” says Galán, who also practices meditation each week.
With a focus on living in the moment, Galán is taking her time in planning her next move. "I’ve reached every single one of goals and now I’m in round two of my goals," she says. "Now I get to chose what to do next and I want to do that with a lot of care and thought.”
According to Galán, now is the time for women to step up and make their ideas into their dreams.
“Things are being disrupted right and left,” says Galán “I think everyone should engage their entrepreneurial muscle.”
Gender divisions in sports have primarily served to keep women out of what has always been believed to be a male domain. The idea of women participating alongside men has been regarded with contempt under the belief that women were made physically inferior.
Within their own division, women have reached new heights, received accolades for outstanding physical performance and endurance, and have proven themselves to be as capable of athletic excellence as men. In spite of women's collective fight to be recognized as equals to their male counterparts, female athletes must now prove their womanhood in order to compete alongside their own gender.
That has been the reality for Caster Semenya, a South African Olympic champion, who has been at the center of the latest gender discrimination debate across the world. After crushing her competition in the women's 800-meter dash in 2016, Semenya was subjected to scrutiny from her peers based upon her physical appearance, calling her gender into question. Despite setting a new national record for South Africa and attaining the title of fifth fastest woman in Olympic history, Semenya's success was quickly brushed aside as she became a spectacle for all the wrong reasons.
Semenya's gender became a hot topic among reporters as the Olympic champion was subjected to sex testing by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). According to Ruth Padawer from the New York Times, Semenya was forced to undergo relentless examination by gender experts to determine whether or not she was woman enough to compete as one. While the IAAF has never released the results of their testing, that did not stop the media from making irreverent speculations about the athlete's gender.
Moments after winning the Berlin World Athletics Championship in 2009, Semenya was faced with immediate backlash from fellow runners. Elisa Cusma who suffered a whopping defeat after finishing in sixth place, felt as though Semenya was too masculine to compete in a women's race. Cusma stated, "These kind of people should not run with us. For me, she is not a woman. She's a man." While her statement proved insensitive enough, her perspective was acknowledged and appeared to be a mutually belief among the other white female competitors.
Fast forward to 2018, the IAAF issued new Eligibility Regulations for Female Classification (Athlete with Differences of Sexual Development) that apply to events from 400m to the mile, including 400m hurdles races, 800m, and 1500m. The regulations created by the IAAF state that an athlete must be recognized at law as either female or intersex, she must reduce her testosterone level to below 5 nmol/L continuously for the duration of six months, and she must maintain her testosterone levels to remain below 5 nmol/L during and after competing so long as she wishes to be eligible to compete in any future events. It is believed that these new rules have been put into effect to specifically target Semenya given her history of being the most recent athlete to face this sort of discrimination.
With these regulations put into effect, in combination with the lack of information about whether or not Semenya is biologically a female of male, society has seemed to come to the conclusion that Semenya is intersex, meaning she was born with any variation of characteristics, chromosomes, gonads, sex hormones, or genitals. After her initial testing, there had been alleged leaks to media outlets such as Australia's Daily Telegraph newspaper which stated that Semenya's results proved that her testosterone levels were too high. This information, while not credible, has been widely accepted as fact. Whether or not Semenya is intersex, society appears to be missing the point that no one is entitled to this information. Running off their newfound acceptance that the Olympic champion is intersex, it calls into question whether her elevated levels of testosterone makes her a man.
The IAAF published a study concluding that higher levels of testosterone do, in fact, contribute to the level of performance in track and field. However, higher testosterone levels have never been the sole determining factor for sex or gender. There are conditions that affect women, such as PCOS, in which the ovaries produce extra amounts of testosterone. However, those women never have their womanhood called into question, nor should they—and neither should Semenya.
Every aspect of the issue surrounding Semenya's body has been deplorable, to say the least. However, there has not been enough recognition as to how invasive and degrading sex testing actually is. For any woman, at any age, to have her body forcibly examined and studied like a science project by "experts" is humiliating and unethical. Under no circumstances have Semenya's health or well-being been considered upon discovering that her body allegedly produces an excessive amount of testosterone. For the sake of an organization, for the comfort of white female athletes who felt as though Semenya's gender was an unfair advantage against them, Semenya and other women like her, must undergo hormone treatment to reduce their performance to that of which women are expected to perform at. Yet some women within the athletic community are unphased by this direct attempt to further prove women as inferior athletes.
As difficult as this global invasion of privacy has been for the athlete, the humiliation and sense of violation is felt by her people in South Africa. Writer and activist, Kari, reported that Semenya has had the country's undying support since her first global appearance in 2009. Even after the IAAF released their new regulations, South Africans have refuted their accusations. Kari stated, "The Minister of Sports and Recreation and the Africa National Congress, South Africa's ruling party labeled the decision as anti-sport, racist, and homophobic." It is no secret that the build and appearance of Black women have always been met with racist and sexist commentary. Because Black women have never managed to fit into the European standard of beauty catered to and in favor of white women, the accusations of Semenya appearing too masculine were unsurprising.
Despite the countless injustices Semenya has faced over the years, she remains as determined as ever to return to track and field and compete amongst women as the woman she is. Her fight against the IAAF's regulations continues as the Olympic champion has been receiving and outpour of support in wake of the Association's decision. Semenya is determined to run again, win again, and set new and inclusive standards for women's sports.