Dr. Raquel M. Ortiz, an Emmy-nominated documentary filmmaker, is a social anthropologist, educator, storyteller, playwright, performer, poet, composer, editor, illustrator, and author of children’s books and songs. Her newest project, an Afro-Puerto Rican bomba album for children, entitled Que vengan los niños, includes songs that are sung in Spanish, English, and also bilingual. The album, created in collaboration with William Cepeda, a four-time Grammy-nominated Latin Jazz legend, composer, and educator, contains 12 songs ranging in topics from the beauty of the island of Puerto Rico to animals, bomba music, and Boricua pride in the USA, and incorporate traditional Latin American children’s songs. Four songs are inspired by Dr. Ortiz’s children’s picture books and theater productions.
Dr. Ortiz’s bilingual stories about Afro-Caribbean and Latinx culture invite children and adults to join in on adventures, featuring children as the protagonists so that they see and celebrate their creativity and valor. Her six published books are Broken Butterfly Wings / Alas de mariposa rotas (2021), Vicki and a Summer of Change! / ¡Vicki y un verano de cambio! (2020), Sofi Paints her Dreams / Sofi pinta sus sueños (2019), When Julia Danced Bomba / Cuando Julia bailaba bomba (2019), Sofi and the Magic, Musical Mural / Sofi y el magico mural musical (2015), and Planting Flags on Division Street / Plantando banderas en la calle Division (2015).
Dr. Ortiz’s bilingual multimedia storytelling using music, puppetry, and video led to a collaboration with Cleveland Public Library’s 2018 Sofi and the Magic, Musical Mural musical performance and the Cleveland Play House play !A las nubes! inspired by Alas de mariposa rotas in 2022. Dr. Ortiz’s script and a song for Cucarachita Martina’s Musical Adventure, shown at the 2021 Tribeca Film Festival, earned her a 2021 Emmy nomination.
Dr. Ortiz has a PhD in cultural anthropology from the University of Salamanca and a Masters in Puerto Rican studies from the Centro de Estudios Avanzados de Puerto Rico y el Caribe. She is currently working on a novel for middle schoolers that explores folktales and Taíno mythology.