Dr Fernanda Peñaloza with writers and creators of Bump at its Season 2 premiere blue carpet event in Sydney

Bringing Latin American cultural expertise to TV series Bump

21 December 2022
Shining diversity and representation in the entertainment industry
As cultural consultant and screenwriter for the Australian comedy-drama show, Spanish and Latin American Studies expert Dr Fernanda Peñaloza highlights the importance of authenticity in linguistic and cultural diversity on local and global screens.
Portrait of Dr Fernanda Penaloza

Dr Fernanda Peñaloza, Chair of Spanish and Latin American Studies

Dr Fernanda Peñaloza is Senior Lecturer in Latin American Studies. She teaches subjects including Spanish and Latin American film studies, and researches migration and Latin American identities.

In recent years, Dr Fernanda Peñaloza brought her expertise in Latin American Studies to television and media – contributing her cultural knowledge and insights on migrant identities to the writers' room for the Australian television series Bump. Bump tells the story of two school-aged parents and centres on a family of Latin American background, incorporating Spanish-speaking characters and cultural themes.

Bump first premiered on Australian streaming service Stan in 2021. With the show's significant popularity, the original Stan series will premiere its third season on 26 December 2022.

Journey from academia to writing for comedy-drama series

Bump's producers initially hired Dr Peñaloza as a cultural consultant. Her involvement in the series grew organically. She soon started to collaborate with the creative team by attending brainstorming and plotting sessions, and later ventured into co-writing for Bump Season 2 and Season 3.

Collaborating on ‘Bump’ has been a rewarding experience. It’s inspired by my own life, and decades of teaching and research. It’s rewarding to know that the show will reach millions of people in Australia, as well as in the US, Europe and Latin America where the show has been slated for streaming.
Dr Fernanda Peñaloza, Senior Lecturer, Chair of Spanish and Latin American Studies, and 'Bump' cultural advisor and co-writer

Championing diversity and inclusion

Along with her commitment to teaching and research, Dr Peñaloza is co-chair of the University of Sydney's Mosaic Network which aims to accelerate inclusion and develop a shared understanding of diversity by bringing together and empowering staff from all cultural backgrounds.

As co-writer and cultural advisor, Dr Peñaloza aimed to imbue the script with authenticity – approaching it as a way to promote respect for cultural and linguistic diversity.

"I wanted to stay clear of the common stereotypes that Australian audiences have become accustomed to watching," said Dr Peñaloza.

The Latin American elements of Bump were not always a given. According to Dr Peñaloza, the original concept for the series did not include an Australian Latin American family: "The production team really aimed to represent linguistic and cultural diversity in ways that respect cultural sensibilities and avoid possible stereotypes – and this is not always easy."

Australian actress Claudia Karvan, who stars on Bump and co-created and produced the series, is a Spanish speaker and is connected with the local Latin American community, Dr Peñaloza shared. Karvan's connections sowed the seeds for the show's cross-cultural dimension, sparking an industry-leading commitment to diversity and representation both on and behind Australian screens.

"This is the first time an Australian TV show has included Australian Latin American cast and crew," noted Dr Peñaloza. "I think it's important to highlight the attention our communities are attracting and representation of diversity on Australian screens."

Season 3 of Bump premieres on streaming service Stan on 26 December 2022.

Languages and cultures in action
This article is part of a new series exploring how language and cross-cultural skills are applied in real-world contexts, as we meet people from the School of Languages and Cultures who share their journeys with us.

Banner image: Dr Fernanda Peñaloza (furthest right) with the writers and creators of Bump at its Season 2 premiere in Sydney. Image supplied.

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