“Drinks and a Movie” is a podcast created and hosted by Rudy Ruiz that critiques Hollywood films through the lens of Latinx history and culture. Ruiz shares good booze and hearty commentary with guests ranging from cinematographers, actors and directors.

As a young child in the 90s, Ruiz was exposed to myriad Latinx films by his parents who hoped that he and his brothers would grow up appreciating and understanding their Chicano heritage and culture. Films like “Mi Familia,” “Blood in Blood out” and “Born in East L.A.” were the most memorable for Ruiz, he says today.  

“My mom and my dad were into making sure that my brothers and I knew our heritage and our history,” Ruiz said. “We’d always visit Olvera Street in Los Angeles and museums and go to screenings for a movie that had primarily a Latino cast. We’d go support it.”

In 2012 at L.A. City College, Ruiz decided to change his major to film. For the next six years, he worked as a production assistant for a movie that was never released, directed a music video, worked as a camera assistant and freelanced on other projects. Though he was happy, his parents didn’t show support, pushing him to find a more secure job or vocation. 

“As I was freelancing, bartending, hustling and really struggling. My folks were very much like, ‘Just get a normal job and just do that,’” Ruiz said. “But I just can’t help it. If I’m going to struggle, I would rather struggle with what I love doing, than hate what I’m doing and still feel like I’m struggling.”

In 2018 his roommate, Qiydaar Foster, pitched him the idea for a podcast in which they would discuss and break down The Twilight Zone episodes (TV series 1959-1964), which Ruiz wanted to pair with alcohol due to his growing passion for spirits. The podcast was called “Tipsy Sterling” and ran 10 episodes until Foster left, leaving Ruiz to look for a new passion project. 

“Tipsy Sterling was a jumping-off point for me, friends would say I should do a podcast about different films because I was really into podcasting and super passionate about movies,” Ruiz said. “I decided to pick it up on my own. I knew that I would want to talk about all genres and everything, but specifically certain movies I grew up with that are Latino cinema.”

To get the ball rolling, Ruiz began developing a new podcast and working with friends who shared the same passion for cinema. Eventually, he began to reach out to Latinx directors, actors, cinematographers and writers, landing his first big guest, Natasha Brier. Brier has served as a cinematographer for a number of films, including “The Neon Demons” and “Honey Boy.”  

On air, Ruiz reveals a preference for whiskey and bourbon, and sometimes invites bartenders and other alcohol officianados to join his show, and even reached out to a master distiller from the Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. to visit on the podcast. Ruiz likes to say that the combination of hard spirits and great conversations about movies and Latino Culture plays into his strengths as a Hollywood commentator and media influencer.

“I try to pair certain spirits with certain movies,” Ruiz said. “For one podcast, we did “The Poseidon Adventure,” a movie about the ship that’s sinking. So we drank Jefferson’s Ocean Age Bourbon. It’s the bourbon that’s put in barrels on a boat and sailed across the sea. So. I’m just really trying to combine both of my passions as much as I can.” 

Ruiz, 32, who is also a video production teacher at Edgewood High School in West Covina, and logged 109 episodes on “Drinks and a Movie.” Ruiz feels he’s on the right path, finally getting support from his parents for his passion.

“My parents got us into that kind of cinema, specifically because of the representation and stories,” he said. “As the podcast has grown, it’s only made my parents more supportive beause they love that I’m getting to talk to all these people. Deep down, I do want them to be proud of me, so they are a big driving force for doing it.”

In a recent broadcast, Ruiz turned his show over to CALÓ NEWS Managing Editor, Daniel Vasquez, who interviewed Ruiz and his guests, actors Daniel Villarreal and Danny De La Paz. Villarreal starred in “Stand in Deliver” and both played key roles in “American Me,” directed by Edward James Olmos. Both are seminal films for many Latino film lovers. Going forward, Ruiz said that he wants more Latino filmmakers to join the podcast and he plans to branch out to different ethnic filmmakers, such as Justin Chon, a Korean-American director, and Xavier Dolan, a Canadian filmmaker.

“It would be nice if I get to a point where it’s self-sustaining, I’m not losing money doing it, but buying products and gear does cost,” Ruiz said. “But I enjoy it and love doing it. I just like the conversations and connecting with people over films, because it’s always fun. Even without the money, I don’t plan on stopping.”

Nova Blanco-Rico is about to graduate with a degree in journalism from California State University, Dominguez Hills and is a freelancer for CALÓ NEWS.