Meet Our Neighbors: Rocío Almanza-Guillén

Get to know Rocío Almanza-Guillén, Digital Producer at Fred Rogers Productions. Rocío produces digital content for our newest series, Alma's Way.

Tell us about yourself and how your career led you to work in children’s television.

I was born and raised in Mexico City and have been a passionate advocate of children, even when I was a child myself. I’ve always been interested in the representation of girls in media, including in books, and would argue and question whoever I could about the lack of role models for girls like me. Throughout the years, this interest has grown and guided me to explore the issues of representation of people of color, equity, and inclusion.

Formally, I started my career almost 20 years ago in Mexican public children’s television; since then, I’ve had the opportunity to explore many areas in this field such as strategy, research, writing, programming and acquisitions, production, design, and marketing. I have made contributions to a vast number of projects with a wide variety of organizations and groups in Mexico and the U.S., utilizing different formats such as film, video, web, games, publications, promotional materials, programs, and VR. These experiences have expanded my interest in the potential of media and technology to promote learning in surprising and relatable ways.

I keep advocating for kids, including my own daughter, focusing on helping them recognize and process emotions as the key to building a resilient life, which is why one of my favorite quotes from Fred Rogers is “When we talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary.” I chose this career because I thought it would be fun and would match my playful and justice-driven side, and it hasn’t disappointed.

What was your favorite television show growing up?

I had many! As a preschooler, I used to watch Plaza Sesamo, the Latin American version of Sesame Street. Unfortunately, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood didn’t air in Mexico when I was growing up, but I’m sure I would’ve been a fan. In my tween years, I watched lots of cartoons and some anime with female leads: She-Ra, Heidi, Sandy-Bell, Gigi, Mujercitas (Little Women), Lalabel, and others.

One fun memory: When I was about eight years old, my sisters and I would sneak out of our bedrooms to watch La Hora Marcada (The Appointed Time), a horror and sci-fi series that was written and directed by the now very famous Mexican trio formed by Emmanuel Lubezki, Guillermo del Toro, and Alfonso Cuarón.

Some days, when I got home from school, I’d watch whatever was on TV, such as black and white movies from the Golden Age of Mexican Cinema and loved them...there’s lots of singing and tragic stories, which is ideal to create an empathetic child. I think my very favorite thing was getting together with my family to eat popcorn with salsa and watch Los Locos Addams (The Addams Family).

What goes into your role in the creation of digital content for Alma’s Way?

As a digital producer at Fred Rogers Productions, I produce interactive content for Alma’s Way for young audiences, four- to six-years-old, across multiple digital platforms, including websites and games. I am lucky to work with talented partners, developers, artists, voice-over actors, educational advisors, TV producers, and other outstanding professionals that work together to raise the bar in the creation of the best digital experiences for kids. This, of course, includes bilingual and authentic content.

Additionally, I’m in a permanent search to connect with people in the games space; developers, creators, advisors, and other professionals with the goal to bring different voices to the table.

What is something you really love about the show that you can’t wait to share with audiences?

The world of Alma is so rich, diverse, and… real! It gives us so much to work with for digital. I’m in awe about the care and detail that go into each episode of the show and every bit of the digital content. Alma’s Way is my new referent when I think about the phrase “detail-oriented;” my colleagues and I don’t shy away from pausing to figure things out until we get them right.

Plus, I get to work with people that are not only brilliant but that share the same commitment to improving children’s lives. I also love that this show was created by Sonia Manzano, a fierce Puerto Rican and that the team includes nuanced Latinx voices in every step of the process. Personally, it feels like we are more visible, and, just like Alma, we have something to say.

What do you like to do when you’re not working?

I like going to the mountains with my family; we go camping often in Colorado, where I live. Most weeks, we go for walks and bike rides around the neighborhood. I love watching kids’ shows (really, not just for work!), story time, dancing, and singing with my 4-year-old daughter.

When possible, I work on my xeriscape garden and my vegetable garden. This is a great conversation starter with neighbors who are the witnesses of all the hard work that has gone into them. I enjoy going to coffee shops to write and read good books. I love traveling, especially to visit my family and friends in Mexico City, Michigan, and New York.

Alma’s Way premieres on PBS KIDS on October 4.