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A documentary by Aleteia and SOMOS Community Care wins an Emmy



Jesús Colina - published on 11/02/21

The co-production "The Graffiti Artist Who Became a Doctor" tells the story of the incredible life of Juan Tapia-Mendoza.

The New York Chapter of the National Academy of Arts and Sciences (NY NATAS) has awarded an Emmy to the documentary “The Graffiti Artist Who Became a Doctor.”

The video was produced by the global Catholic network, in co-production with Dr. Ramon Tallaj,  Chairman and Founder SOMOS Community Care, a non-profit, physician-led network of over 2,500 diverse health care providers primarily serving immigrant communities in New York City.

The production tells the story of Dr. Juan Tapia-Mendoza in an  interview-documentary format.

Tapia-Mendoza was born in the Dominican Republic and grew up in the mean streets of New York City, where he became became part of the gang known as the “Savage Nomads.” His and street art brought him recognition and fame under the graffiti tag of “C.A.T, 87.”. 

His experience inspired him to become a doctor, a pediatrician beloved by his community, and founder of Pediatrics 2000, the practice he established in the very heart of Washington Heights. 

“The Graffiti Artist Who Became a Doctor,”originally recorded in Spanish, received the prestigious Emmy Award in the Human Interest category during the ceremony held on October 30.

A story to inspire new generations

I feel humbled and grateful for this honor. I had a challenging youth, but thanks to my mother and the support of my family, I was able to rise and follow the path that brought me to where I am today. I hope that my story inspires others to pursue their dreams no matter how difficult things can be at times. There is always a new day, a new opportunity to cherish life and achieve everything that we dream of,”  said Tapia-Mendoza after learning the news that now he can add Emmy Award-winner to his many accolades.  

“With unwavering faith in God”

The executive producer of the documentary, Dr. Ramon Tallaj, Chairman of the Board of SOMOS Community Care, said, “We have worked very hard, always with unwavering faith in God and every day fighting for the health and well-being of our underserved communities. These two Emmy Awards, this national recognition, belong to everyone at SOMOS, and I share it with all.”

The Aleteia and SOMOS co-production was made thanks to the talent of Denisse Oller as senior producer and Miriam Coletta, producer, with a script written by Dolors Massot, under the creative direction of Miriam Díez Bosch. Photography and post- production are by Renzo Devia. 

The documentary is part of a series of documentaries co-produced by Aleteia and SOMOS Community Care about the testimony of doctors, the unsung heroes who are making New York a better city for their communities.

On the front lines during the pandemic

SOMOS physicians and staff have been on the front lines of the COVID-19 response in New York City’s most diverse communities since the beginning – testing, treating, providing health education and vaccinations, and feeding community members. 

SOMOS has tested over 1 million people nationally, administered over 1.5 million vaccines, and distributed nearly 2 million meals. 

SOMOS physicians were also deployed to the hardest-hit Sun Belt states to increase access to testing in vulnerable immigrant communities and slow the spread of the virus in hot spots. 

Since 1949, the prestigious Emmy Awards have recognized the best productions and people involved in producing in television in the United States.

You can find the documentary here on Aleteia: The graffiti artist who became a famous pediatrician.

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