Jose Antonio Vargas, founder of the non-profit organization Define American and the media start-up #EmergingUS, is bringing his insights about race, immigration, identity and citizenship to the new digital media network TheMaven (symbol MVEN).
“Jose is a bold and compelling journalist, filmmaker and advocate for the underdog,” said James Heckman, CEO of TheMaven. “This is the meeting of his brilliant mind and unique point of view, with our state-of-the-art platform.”
Vargas is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, Emmy-nominated filmmaker, and media entrepreneur whose work centers on the changing American identity and elevating the conversation around immigration and citizenship. His channel on TheMaven, launching this spring, will have a similar focus.
“I am thrilled to be a partner in what promises to be a pioneering media company,” Vargas says of TheMaven. “James and his team have an unimpeachable track record in building digital properties. In a crowded media ecosystem, I am confident that TheMaven will make its mark and I’m honored to be a part of it.”
A former Washington Post reporter and Huffington Post editor, Vargas is the CEO of Define American, which he launched in 2011 with the aim of using powerful, real-life storytelling to advocate for immigrants and their families and promote an environment in which they are seen as human beings. In 2011, the New York Times Magazine published a groundbreaking essay Vargas wrote in which he revealed and chronicled his life in America as an undocumented immigrant. A year later, Vargas appeared on the cover of Time Magazine alongside other undocumented immigrants, with the headline “Not Legal, Not Leaving.” In one of the rare instances in the history of Time, Vargas wrote the cover story himself.
In addition to his advocacy work, Vargas is also a media entrepreneur, producing original video content through #EmergingUS. He has produced three documentaries, including the autobiographical “Documented,” which received a 2015 NAACP Image Award nomination for Outstanding Documentary, and “White People,” an MTV special that was nominated for an Emmy Award.
“As ad and social platforms evolve, TheMaven provides independent leaders, like Jose, an end-to-end business home, to continue to distribute on platforms like Facebook and Twitter but as part of a fully-integrated, unified strategy, which includes advertising, technology and distribution,” added Heckman. “Our business model has always been to hand-pick and invest in the elite, independent content leaders in a particular category and Jose certainly is the leader in his space -- and the timing couldn’t be more appropriate. We’re proud to include his passion and brilliance with the rest of our inspiring leaders.”