- Food & Drink
COVER: Zoomers in the media
This is starting to sound familiar: daughter of immigrants overcomes social and economic barriers during youth, establishes highly successful career, and doesn’t weary of work, but, rather, maintains a healthy passion for it well into ‘Boomerism’ and beyond.
It could be Maria Leone, it could be Carmen Ruiz y Laza, it could be you.
For the sake of this story, let’s focus on Carmen:
While something the PR maven had been pondering for the past few years, finding out she was going to have her own TV show at the age of 52 had the high-voltage, fast-talking Spaniard shaking and short for air.
Careers can be leveraged on the back of a brief conversation, an innocuous email reconnect or a well-timed good idea. In Ruiz y Laza’s case, it was a variation of all three:
“When I met with Moses [Znaimer, former head of CityTV] in the spring, we were having coffee and I said to him, ‘Okay, I’m ready to come and work for you now. And by the way... I want to be on camera someday.’”
As a producer, in 1999, Ruiz y Laza helped Znaimer bring CityTV out west.
Now 71, Znaimer is playing fast and loose with the concept of zoomers — Baby Boomers with zip. The media mogul is reaching out to zoomers in BC as president of CARP (Canadian Association of Retired Persons), with Zoomer magazine and through his Fraser Valley-based television station, JoyTV.
“If I was ever going to ask, this was the time. He listens. And he makes people; he allows you the opportunity.”
So they began expanding her portfolio: introducing CARP BC, JoyTV, IdeaCity and the Zoomer Show to her vast network.
Still, it took perhaps a confidence that comes with age to put her pitch on the (coffee) table. And now she has a TV show.
“I’m trying to digest what we’re embarking on. I’m really grateful: to be a baby boomer, starting a new career on camera, where most networks are looking to retire you after a certain age? JoyTV has instead given me an opportunity to begin something; I’m in a job where aging is encouraged!” she jokes.
At age 13, Ruiz y Laza left Spain and life in a convent, and landed in Canada unable to speak a word of English.
Determined to learn to communicate, she became fluent within a year and still credits this as the source of her drive.
Fans new to her flair will have to learn to keep up. CarmenTV — a “baby boomer lifestyle show” will follow Ruiz y Laza from intimate chats with friends, to vacation getaways to posh soirées:
“I want to concentrate on what it is to age well. You always age on the outside, not the inside. I’m going talk to people like Maria [Leone], who runs a fashion empire and is at the forefront of the business in the city. She’s still doing it. She knows what’s hip and happening and can pick clothes for you and for me.”
If the two women traded tips on longevity, they’d probably just repeat each other’s advice:
“The harder I work the luckier I get. Remember that old saying?” she laughs. “Nothing comes easy, and don’t get fooled — I have a lot of vulnerabilities. And with this TV show, I have to get ready to expose myself. But I have learned to not take the criticisms too harshly, nor the compliments to heart.”