NEON. (L to R) Jordan Mendoza as Felix, Emma Ferreira as Ness, Tyler Dean Flores as Santi in NEON. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2023

Oz Rodriguez on Grounding the Vibrant World of ‘Neon’

Neon is a series that takes us into the world of reggaeton. You might know the music thanks to artists like Daddy Yankee and Bad Bunny, maybe even J Balvin. It is about hopes, dreams, and who is there to help you along the way and the show walks a beautiful balance between the reality of giving up your small town life for the big city and the reality of what all of it means. And we spoke with director Oz Rodriguez about bringing the show to life!

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The series is described as follows: “From small-town Florida to the bustling beaches and bright lights of Miami, Neon follows three friends as they hustle their way to making it big in the world of reggaeton. The eight-episode comedy captures not only the three besties’ larger-than-life dreams, but also the harsh realities and funny mishaps of surviving the music industry. Tyler Dean Flores plays Santi, a rising reggaeton artist who, with the help of his friends Ness (Emma Ferreira), Felix (Jordan Mendoza), and A&R rep Mia (Courtney Taylor), hopes to become the biggest star in reggaeton. Or at least pay his rent.”

Watching the series, it is clear that Rodriguez knew how to bring to life the vibrant world of Miami and the reality of these three friends coming to Miami with barely any money in their pockets. Grounding that show in the reality of not having money to pay their bills really sets the tone for the series and so I asked Rodriguez about finding the balance of the series as a whole. “I think I had an advantage only because I’m from the Dominican Republic and from the Caribbean, it’s a great question because it’s something we talked about,” Rodriguez said. “How do we show our vibrancy in an interesting and cool way? But I also know that we are humans that have moments of drama and highs and lows. So I think for me it was definitely something I wanted to showcase. Being a fan of Pedro Almodóvar movies, I feel like you can have some high key visual energy with some engaging melodrama. It felt like a challenge at first, but I think with the actors who also come from the Caribbean diaspora, I think we latch onto this idea and I think it felt felt natural to us.”

You can see our full conversation here:

Neon is on Netflix now.

(featured image: Netflix)

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Rachel Leishman
Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. She's been a writer professionally since 2016 but was always obsessed with movies and television and writing about them growing up. A lover of Spider-Man and Wanda Maximoff's biggest defender, she has interests in all things nerdy and a cat named Benjamin Wyatt the cat. If you want to talk classic rock music or all things Harrison Ford, she's your girl but her interests span far and wide. Yes, she knows she looks like Florence Pugh. She has multiple podcasts, normally has opinions on any bit of pop culture, and can tell you can actors entire filmography off the top of her head. Her work at the Mary Sue often includes Star Wars, Marvel, DC, movie reviews, and interviews.