Sometimes it can be hard to remember our family values and where we come from--especially in the midst of raising a family and working multiple jobs to get by. Let's face it, the monotony of every day life happens. But the new CBS show, THE BRIEFCASE spotlights The Mata Family who have been able to embrace their roots and embody the warmth and kindness that their Latino culture is all about.
THE BRIEFCASE is a heart-warming story of two struggling families suddenly coming into $101,000 and having to make a hard decision between keeping the money for their own family or being generous to another family facing hard times.
Richard and Esperanza "Espy" Mata are a first generation Mexican-American family residing in Boyle Heights. Since Espy became pregnant when she was only 17, the Mata family has worked tirelessly to attend school and achieve their American Dream. With both Richard and Espy working full-time jobs in addition to running their Mariachi conservatory, overcoming such obstacles hasn't stopped this family of four from falling on hard financial times.
Richard and Esperanza "Espy" Mata are culturally rich first generation Mexican-Americans who are struggling to achieve their American dreams. Against all odds they have managed to educate themselves while raising a family and holding down full time jobs. Richard and Espy were high school sweethearts and have been married for 18 years. They became pregnant with their first daughter Angela (now 19) when Espy was only 17, but even though she was 7 months pregnant at graduation, she graduated with honors!
A couple years later they had America (16) completing their family of 4. The Matas are extremely passionate about their Mexican heritage and sharing it with others, they all play in a Mariachi band together and perform on weekends and for Sunday services. In addition to playing, they run a Mariachi conservatory to teach youth the art of Mariachi in hopes of keeping them off the streets of Los Angeles.
For the Matas, being parents, holding down full time teaching jobs, running a Mariachi school for youth, performing Mariachi on weekends for extra money and continuing their education is just life as they know it. Unfortunately that life has not been an easy one, and try as they might, they can't seem to get on top of their financial hardships. After nearly losing their home, taking financial care of extended families, and the mound of student loans they have accumulated over the years, the Matas are in some serious debt.
They've got a lot of heart, but sadly heart doesn't pay the bills. The Matas want nothing more than financial stability so that they can secure a better future for their girls and give back in service to the community and and culture they so love and cherish.
LatinoLA conducted the following email interview with the Matas:
LatinoLA: What's the name of your Mariachi Conservatory?
The Matas: The name of our music school is The Mariachi Conservatory located in Boyle Heights Los Angeles
LatinoLA: What schools do you teach at?
The Matas: The Mariachi Conservatory is a family run after school music program that is open to the community and for all ages. Our classes are held at Bishop Mora Salesian High School in Boyle Heights.
LatinoLA: What schools do your daughters go to?
The Matas: Angelica Mata is currently attending her second year at California State University, Los Angeles. America Mata will be a senior and currently attending Ramon C. Cortines High School for the Performing Arts.
LatinoLA: How would you describe your family's values?
The Matas: The Mata Family is a hard working Mexican-American Family committed in preserving the mariachi art form in our community of Boyle Heights. We understand the value of helping others, so what better way to help than through mariachi music, even if we don't always have the means to do so.
We also value the importance of a higher education. Angie, our daughter is currently pursuing her undergraduate studies and would like to become an Elementary Teacher. Espie my wife is currently pursuing her credential and masters in Special Education, and is currently a Special Education Teacher for the Los Angeles Unified School District. I, (Richard) am currently finishing up my Masters and Credential in Secondary Education and am currently teaching music for the Los Angeles Archdiocese.
LatinoLA: When did you realize you needed to take drastic action of appearing on reality TV to deal with your financial problems?
The Matas: When we were first approached to be part of The Briefcase, we did not know that the show was going to involve money. We believed that it was going to be a docu-series in which our family was going to be filmed and that we were going to discuss our financial situation as teachers, musicians, and college students that despite our financial struggle we continue to do what we love. We decided to share our story in order to help and inspire others to continue moving forward despite their daily struggles.
LatinoLA: How did your social network of family, friends, co-workers, students react to knowing you were participating in The Briefcase?
The Matas: At the time that we were filming no one knew of our participation in the The Briefcase. We just recently announced to our family and friends of our participation in The Briefcase and they have been nothing but supportive, excited and really happy for us.
LatinoLA: What have you learned from this experience?
The Matas: What we have learned as a family being part of The Briefcase is that money will not solve everything and yes having money can help you financially but the most important thing to do is the right thing for others and your own family. This experience has also helped us open the lines of communication dealing with our financial situation. We realized that we never really discussed our financial plans for our future, mostly because we seem to be preoccupied working hard. We just never really seriously discussed the importance of our financial goals and plans until given the opportunity in The Briefcase.
We are just very humbled and happy to have been part of such a wonderful life changing experience and having shared it with another hard working family like the Melansons of Hingham, Massachusetts.