Rosa “Rosie” Gumataotao Rios is the 43rd Treasurer of the United States and the person responsible for the $ 20 Harriet Tubman bill. Moe Vela is a lawyer who has served as an advisor to Vice Presidents Al Gore and Joe Biden. The two stars of Unicorn hunters, a new reality TV series looking for the next billion dollar “unicorn” or startup.
In this Pride Month interview, the duo discuss how they met, what they see as the biggest obstacles for the queer community, and why democratizing wealth creation is so important. The questions and answers have been edited for brevity and clarity.
How did you two meet?
Moe Vela: I am president of the Rosie Rios fan club. [Laughs]
Rosie Rios: It was at the White House. We saw each other across the room, and it’s been a party since.
Moe Vela: It was a Cinco de Mayo event, to be exact. And it was really like we saw each other across the room. My first thought was, “I think it’s that fierce West Coast Latina. I walked over and said, “I don’t care whether you like it or not, but you have to hug me and kiss me.”
Only a homosexual can say that to a woman without getting slapped in a sexual harassment lawsuit. And even then—
Rosie Rios: [Laughs] He was a fabulous invitation. And we never stopped.
Moe Vela: We really haven’t stopped. I can’t go into too many personal details because Rosie is going to fire me. I want to stay in his last will and testament, just in case. [Laughs]
I don’t want to get emotional, but it chokes me a bit because I’m so proud of her. I am one of those Latinos who are elated by the success and accomplishments of my fellow Hispanics. I don’t find it intimidating. And I’m very proud to bring Rosie to the Unicorn hunters family.
The show has an incredible cast with Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak and singer Lance Bass, the two of you and other awesome business leaders.
Rosie Rios: It’s a great roster, but what’s even better is when you see us in action on the set. We really feed off each other and each brings a different point of view.
Moe Vela: It is magic. One of the greatest joys of filming our pilot season was watching Rosie Rios, whose name is on over $ 1 trillion in currency, celebrity crushing Lance Bass.
Rosie Rios: I would like to share something with the American public: I am in love with Lance. [Laughs] He’s just the biggest darling.
Rosie, you’ve been instrumental in getting women on America’s paper money, including the redesign of the $ 20 bill with Harriet Tubman that was supposed to be unveiled last year. How did you get involved?
Rosie Rios: The concept came to me in 2008. I was then part of the Federal Reserve Treasury transition team. I was passing through the treasury Historic Resource Center. The Treasury does not only produce money, but all financial products, including savings bonds, postage stamps, etc. The height of the financial crisis was a very stressful time. I would run away to the Historical Resource Center to look at these artifacts and renderings.
I noticed a pattern. It seemed like not all the women I met on these concepts were real women. They were allegorical, like “Lady Liberty”. But every man I met was a real man: a president, a founding father, a cabinet secretary. When I dug a little deeper, I realized that in our country’s Federal Reserve Note history, which dates back over 100 years, we have never had a portrait of a woman. But there were almost 30 countries at that time with women on their modern currency.
I asked the director of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing why we had never had real women before. I asked the same question of his deputy and his deputy. They all offered the same answer separately: no one had ever mentioned it.
How is it possible? There are plays with Susan B. Anthony and Sacagawea. Nobody made the jump between coins and bills?
Rosie Rios: It’s a very different process. By law, parts can only be redrawn with an act of Congress. By law, it is the Secretary of the Treasury who decides the future of paper money, not the President, not Congress. It depends only on the Secretary of the Treasury, a historically very reserved area.
The bigger question here is, why didn’t this happen sooner? You can say that about a million other things, can’t you? The same problem exists with access to capital when it comes to women or people of color.
It’s pride month. Moe, you’re a homosexual, and Rosie, you’re an ally. What do you think are the most pressing issues facing the LGBTQ + community from a government and business perspective?
Moe Vela: My answer might shock you. One of the things I strive to do is always highlight the nuances of each of our communities: LGBTQ +, Latino / Latina, Women, People with Disabilities, Asian American, Native American, African American – we can go on. .
The issues facing our LGBTQ + community transcend almost all of these groups. Rosie hit one of the biggest. The premise of our show – and frankly the reason I co-created Unicorn hunters– this is because all of these groups, including LGBTQ members, do not have access to capital at the same rates as others. We don’t have access to the opportunity. We will not have real equality and economic parity until we have a level playing field.
Explain the principle of Unicorn Hunters to readers.
Moe Vela: The program focuses on the democratization of access to wealth creation. Being a part of the investment process is so foreign to the average citizen of the world. We want to change that. If you don’t even know how to participate, you will never be able to build wealth.
Rosie Rios: I’m not a big fan of television, but what I love about the show is that it comes full circle for something that actually started in the Treasury under the Obama administration, the conference on the access to capital that the Treasury held in 2011.
This conference focused on the lack of IPOs during the financial crisis and what the federal government could do to stimulate other pre-IPO and IPO activity in the future. This led to the formation of the task force which became the group which made recommendations which eventually became the employment law. [Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act] which enabled the crowdfunding mechanisms that are now in place. They enabled the general public to participate in these pre-IPO activities. It is global access. Anyone could participate.
At Unicorn hunters, we want to entertain and educate the public. You will see pop-up text boxes that explain the jargon and acronyms we use. The website is designed to be a portal for further information, so you can review the company’s prospectus before making your own decision as to whether you want to be an investor.
At the show, companies come in and make their pitch. We grill them. We ask them the right questions. If we think about making our own investments, we talk about it as a group. Businesses come back and then we decide if we want to invest and if viewers should consider investing. Then it’s up to the public to do their due diligence and take the next step.
Moe Vela appears as part of the Pride TV 2021 Summit Showrunner Showcase at 4:15 p.m. EST / 1:15 p.m. Pacific on Wednesday, June 23. For more information and free registration, Click here.
Unicorn Hunters can be streamed on a number of platforms including Amazon Prime, Facebook, LinkedIN or on UnicornHunters.com.
Listen to the full interview of The Revolución podcast episode starring Rosie Rios and Moe Vela with co-hosts Linda Lane Gonzalez and Court Stroud on Apple podcasts, iHeartMedia, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Amazon podcasts, Deezer or by by clicking here.