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Rhina’s Journey and the Rise of La Reina del Barrio

Meet Rhina, affectionately known as “La Reina” to many. With a name that exudes power and magnetism, she embodies transformation, personal empowerment, and divine alignment. Her journey unfolds like a captivating narrative, from the stages of theater to the pinnacle of television production, Rhina is unstoppable!

The spark for her production company, “La Reina del Barrio,” ignited from a desire for creative freedom. Tired of waiting for opportunities amidst the ups and downs of post-production blues in the acting world, Rhina took matters into her own hands

Drawing on her corporate production expertise, she fearlessly ventured into entrepreneurship, crafting her own path with purpose, creativity, and determination.

The name “La Reina del Barrio” is more than just a label; it’s a tribute to Rhina’s roots and resilience. It symbolized not just her identity, but also a tribute to the indomitable spirit of her community, where strength and creativity intertwine.

As a passionate advocate in the arts, Rhina dreams of a future where inclusivity and leadership for women of color shine brightly. Through her projects, she amplifies diverse voices, weaving her own experiences into a tapestry of empowerment. From childhood aspirations to present-day purpose, Rhina’s journey is a testament to resilience, creativity, and a steadfast commitment to community service. 

What inspired the launch of your production company, “La Reina del Barrio”? What inspired the launch of my production company was the need to create and not be at the mercy of someone hiring me. After many years of pursuing acting in Los Angeles and making my way back to New York in ‘99. I came back ready to embark on the theater scene. And, while I was getting work and even winning awards, for that matter. After the completion of a show run, I would suffer from what I called post-production blues, sometimes months on end, because I was waiting for the next job to be cast in. So, to avoid that feeling I began creating, writing, and/or collaborating on new works.

Then, I applied my corporate travel production skills to the field and began to mount my projects.

How did you come up with that name? Since I would mistakenly be called Reina instead of Rhina,“  I started producing my works under the name “La Reina Productions’ which then evolved into La Reina Del Barrio, LLC. And then later into La Reina Del Barrio, Inc. to represent and pay homage to my origins, since I was born and raised in East Harlem endearingly known as El Barrio. Plus, I always liked the fact that it could be interpreted as an oxymoron, depending on one’s translation of it.  La Reina Del Barrio means both “Queen of the Community” or more accurately “Queen of the Ghetto.” 

As a prominent advocate in the arts, what changes do you hope to see for women, especially women of color, in your community? The changes I would love to see for women of color in our community would be to see more inclusivity. I would love to see more women in leadership roles. I find that there is a better understanding of our stories when a project is steered predominantly by women.  

3. Can you recall your dreams at ages 10 and 21? I dreamt about being on television. I have always wanted to be in the field of entertainment. However, when I was younger, I thought I was going to be a dancer. So, I studied ballet, jazz, ethnic and modern dance. It was later in life when I decided I wanted to make people laugh, and began studying improv and acting techniques such as Meisner, with the hopes of landing a television sitcom.  

Have they evolved? Yes, they have. Although, I manifested the dream of being on television. It wasn’t the way I had imagined it. So, based on my current position of being on-air and producing a TV show for 17 years now advocating arts, culture, women empowerment, and mental health awareness.  I now visualize my dreams as being of service. I create to serve our community. And, even though art in all its forms serves society, as a whole. I am driven by the purpose of providing a platform, and deliberately holding space for our underrepresented voices.  

Being a woman on a mission undoubtedly comes with challenges. How do you stay focused and motivated? I stay focused by meditating every single day! I am a transcendental meditator and begin my day with 20 minutes of transcending. I also make sure I take time for myself. I swim for 45 minutes, 4-5 days a week. I also honor a self-care day, that is scheduled on my calendar as a day for me, to be with me. Which currently happens to be on Tuesdays because of my workflow.  A lot of times I work weekends on stage as well.  So, I am very deliberate about my Tuesdays flowing with ease and grace. Sometimes I book massages. I consider myself a massage parlor hopper. I like experiencing new places and different styles. Sometimes I’ll use the day to justifiably stay in bed. Soak in a bath midday or sometimes I’ll roam in the park to commune with nature, just to exercise a sense of freedom. What it does is restore balance from my high-volume, fast-paced, multitasking lifestyle. So, I can re-approach my tasks feeling restored, rejuvenated, revitalized, and realigned. 

What drives your purpose? My daughter drives my purpose. I am driven by her future. I operate to contribute to a future society while being present. My visionary ways come from a deep understanding of knowing that all we are promised is today. However, what we do today determines tomorrow’s outcome. So, if I want to see the change, not only do I need to be the change. I need to create it from a forward-thinking mindset. 

Such as thinking about things like: “What tools can I offer to navigate life’s journey, harmoniously?!”

How does motherhood intersect with your arts and activism? Well, I’ll say this… Motherhood certainly keeps me young and informed about our next generation’s trends and movements. So, as I converse with my daughter and learn about what interests them. I can study their ways because their generation operates very rapidly and with short attention spans. So, that informs my crafting style because again I design according to what I think we need to transform what isn’t working.  

Reflecting on your journey, can you share an interview or moment that was particularly transformative for you? The most transformative moment of my journey to date was the day I declared who I was going to be as a possibility. I took a course in the curriculum for living and creating possibilities. And, in my head, the reason I was taking this course was to enhance my business mindset structure. When in fact it taught me how a business is reflective of who you are. The first thing that I learned was the profound value of “Integrity.” You know what you do when nobody is watching. Your mind-made agreements. Well, those thoughts, and actions are what form your character. It’s an invisible factor within our existence that pretty much makes room for manifestations, and/or creates clutter for stagnation if you are unaware of the role it plays in your quality of life.  I became clear of how quantum physics is ever so relevant to the way we think and perceive. 

Do you have a motto, favorite quote, or guiding principle that inspires you? I have two mottos I live by: “Here’s to finding similarities within our differences”, “Leave things better than you found them”

Let’s explore spirituality as a crucial aspect of your creative process. How does it influence your day-to-day life? Spirituality is a crucial aspect of my creative process. It is the core of ALL of my work. Everything I am, I credit to my spirituality. Even, on a personal level, It is my intuition that leads. I believe we are all connected and it is through my faith and surrender that my creations are born. I am a Metaphysics Spiritualist who embraces all practices, all life forms, and the elements. These appreciations and awareness are the wells I drink from, daily.  Therefore, I remain fluid in a stream of watering consciousness. 

If you could send a message to your future self, what would you say? What advice would you give to Rhina in 10 years? The advice I would give to my future self is: “Take extensive vacations throughout the year as often as you can, and want. Health and Peace are where true wealth lies. Just keep it fly!”  

Photographer/creative producer: Francesca Andre

Make up by: stef.ANIE lamm-siu

Studio: NY Beauty Suites