The Ñ Behind Project Eñye
Kyle Dyer | @Kyle__Dyer
Are you an eñye? There are 16 million of you in the United States, thousands of you in Denver, and most of you have no idea that you have this distinction. However, that’s all changing because of one determined and dedicated Denver woman.
An “ñ” (prounounced en-yay) is a first-generation, American-born Latino who has at least one parent who immigrated to the US from a Spanish-speaking country.
Denise Soler Cox is an ñ. She was born in New York and raised by her Puerto Rican parents. For most of her life, she felt very alone and struggled to fit in with others. She was nagged by conflicting thoughts that she wasn’t Latina enough or American enough.
In her twenties, she realized she was not alone when talking with some friends about similar feelings and experiences. That feeling of connectedness was so profound and empowering. She couldn’t shake it.
For 17 years, Denise kept drawing the letter ñ in notebooks and on scraps of paper. When the calling got louder, she quit her very successful sales career right at the point when she was to become the first Latina manager in the national company. Denise cashed out her savings and sold her luxury car. Her family downsized and moved to downtown Denver (she & her husband have two little girls).
Denise is on a quest to document the feelings and experiences of other ñ’s across the U.S. Denise is working in tandem with Henry Ansbacher, a distinguished producer who has spent his career on projects that raise awareness and motivate change.
Denise’s released her first documentary, Project Eñye, in the summer of 2016. Through interviews, she weaves the stories of ‘generation ñ,’ touching on topics ranging from identity and language to family and fitting in. She adds new stories, called micro-docs, to her website regularly.
“I believe this connectedness and sense of belonging can truly heal a generation,” Denise said.
Denise speaks with groups here in Colorado and spends a lot of time on the road addressing audiences on college campuses and Fortune 500 board rooms. At each event, Denise witness profound moments from those in the audience.
“I feel like I’m shaking up a coke can and when the documentary ends, all these feelings come pouring out,” Denise said. “People feel such a sense of relief. College aged students come up to me crying. Board members from companies want to hug me. They have this new insight and acceptance into who they are.”
Denise is putting together workbooks so that people can work through their thoughts and dreams after seeing the documentary or sitting through one of her talks. A feature film is also in the works with an expected release date of 2017.
After getting to know Denise over several months and sharing what drives us in the art of storytelling, she gave me the title of a fr’ñ. That’s a friend of an ñ! Gracias, Denise.