An Interview with Denise Soler, The Creator of Project Eñye!

A Latina filmmaker and cultural storyteller, Denise Soler Cox is dedicated to helping individuals, organizations and companies transform how we experience culture, identity, and belonging. She’s built a reputation for being a speaker who has the rare ability to shine a light on a sensitive and often ignored topic, with extraordinary clarity, honesty, and humor. Her approach not only inspires and provokes new ways of thinking but most importantly leaves audiences inspired to take action and incorporate positive change into their lives. She is a distinguished member of the 4th Cohort of the Stanford Latino Leaders Entrepreneur Program and was recently chosen as a National Association of Latino Independent Producers 2017 Fellow. She has been the featured speaker in places like Facebook, LinkedIn, KPMG, The Smithsonian Latino Center, Yale University, Wellesley College, Google, Proctor & Gamble’s Orgullosa, Tedx, Starbucks and Vayner Media to name a few. Her work with Project Enye has been featured on, CNN, NBC Latino, Telemundo, Univision, Fox News Latino and more.

CREDIT: Andrea Flannagan

Please tell us a bit about your background.

Before I started Project Eñye, I was figuring out how to raise our two young children and run a business at the same time. Thankfully I worked from home, so I had the best of both worlds. My business was doing great but I always had a feeling in the back of my mind that I wasn’t doing what I was “supposed” to be doing.

What inspired you to develop Project Enye?

A sense of loyalty to myself and an almost 20-year dream to make a film.

How would you describe the response you have gotten since the beginning?

In my heart I always knew that if it could get to the right people that it could make a huge difference. The response since the release of the film 2 years ago now has been overwhelming. Particularly when I think about all the different kinds of audiences that it appeals to. It’s incredibly gratifying to know that we’ve helped so many people.

What has been the hardest thing about developing the project?

It seems like the hardest thing should always be something external. There’s no doubt that it’s hard to get something like this going. The hardest thing for me however has been managing my own psychology, my own feelings of self-doubt throughout the process. The film that I pitched my partner was not a film about my life but that’s the film we ended up making. It was terrifying at the time for me to wonder if that was the right decision.

What have you learned most after seeing the response from the project?

There have been a million lessons for me in the unfolding of this project and film. But making the film about myself has been the greatest gift.

What are you most proud of in the project?

I’m most proud of the impact it has had on our youth. It’s a time in my life when I felt the most alone and the most confused. For the first time, they feel understood and like they mattered and there’s nothing better than to know that our film and the conversation that happens after helps seal in that important emotional learning that I believe we all deserve especially our youth.

Continue reading to find out more about the movement Denise has created…

Please tell us the idea behind a “Fr’eñye”.

Well, the film and project were born from my feeling on the outside looking in. From feeling like I wasn’t a part of a single group 100%. Now everyone wants to be an eñye so we gave a term to people who weren’t eñye’s but who wanted to be a part of the movement because they love an eñye, are married to an eñye, their best friend is an eñye etc. So we call them “Fr’eñye” – a friend of an eñye. We even made them a logo and have stickers to show solidarity.

How can “Fr’eñye’s best support Project Eñye?

The best way for Fr’eñye’s to support our project is to share with your friends in education. Our stated 2018 goal is to screen “being eñye” at 100 schools (middle school, high school, and college) this year. Please contact us at with any referrals you may have.

What advice would you offer to your fellow Eñyes?

My best advice is more like something I want them to know and that is – you belong.

How have you tried to help your children understand being Eñye at an early age?

Well that’s easy. They get it through osmosis. This conversation is something they are around 24/7 so it’s a part of them and I’m super proud of that.

How do you think educators can best support their students who feel out of place?

Thanks for this question. There are so many ways. When I was young I didn’t have the internet so I couldn’t look up a youtube channel or a website to find my tribe. So, I was given some of my favorite books to this day, House on Mango Street, In the Time of the Butterflies, How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents and so many more. Of course, I would recommend our film because in 37 minutes in can literally change someone’s life. Belonging is a tricky thing. Ultimately, I believe it’s a declaration but I’m 47! When I was 17 I think I really need someone to tell me I wasn’t alone and there were/are millions of people who felt the exact same way I did and they are called eñyes.

How do you think Dual Language education can help Eñyes feel less out of place?

Let them know they have a name and a life experience that goes along with it. Ask them questions like the ones found in our workbook. It is designed specifically for people to have a chance to unpack these feelings, look at them, see how they affect us and it also gives readers an opportunity to transcend them.

You talk of how through telling your story, you hope to tell others’ stories. How has this opened up a platform to help others share?

Indeed it has. I’m the very lucky recipient of many eñye stories. I hear them personally but my favorite ones are the ones that are told publicly. Some of them we chose to share on our website and several are also in the film. My sincere hope is that people that see the film are inspired to share what they believed before the film to be unsharable. To speak the unspeakable. To be honest about something that they’ve held as a secret. For it is in sharing those truths about ourselves that we believe are too much to bare for others to know that I believe will set us free as it has for me.

Arthur Chou
Author: Arthur Chou

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