Why Moctesuma Esparza Opens Theaters in Rural Latinx Communities

By Sameer Rao Jun 04, 2018

As the producer of films like "Selena" and "Walkout," Moctesuma Esparza helped bring the stories of Mexican Americans to audiences around the world. Now, the East Los Angeles native pursues the reverse with his theater company, Maya Cinemas, which brings the world to underserved Latinx communites.

Esparza, who is Mexican American, told The Associated Press yesterday (June 3) that he launched Maya Cinemas in 2000 after realizing both the market potential and need for entertainment options in rural areas.

“I saw a business opportunity," Esparza explained. "But what I soon realized was that I have to become a developer, too. Few people were investing in these communities.”

Maya Cinemas currently operates five megaplexes in interior California cities like Salinas and Delano, which are both predominantly Latinx. According to its website, the company also aims to give back to Kern County (which includes Delano) with a scholarship program for high school graduates. 

Esparza said that his company aims to bolster these struggling communities by offering both job opportunities and entertainment options.

“Everyone should have a right to dream,” Esparza said. “Movies allow people to dream, to think of a world outside their experiences.”