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By Kassidy Arena, Iowa Public Radio

When small business owner Carolina Hudman heard Disney was making a movie that featured her Colombian culture, she thought she could make it more than just a movie premier.

Hudman was born in Colombia and moved to the U.S. when she turned 18 years old. Although she is now a U.S. citizen, she said she still loves her home country and looks forward to any connections she can find to it that are in Iowa. So when Disney announced its release of Encanto, she knew she should do something to celebrate it.

She called other Latino business owners to help her plan a community showing this Tuesday night. Hudman asked restaurants, photographers, artists and musicians to come bring attention to Colombian culture in the middle of Iowa. She said she wanted to have this event to introduce different aspects of Latino cultures to central Iowa.

“It’s an opportunity for all of us to showcase where we come from, what we do, like the businesses that we have here, to start getting more of that support from the rest of the community,” she said.

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In Iowa, Hudman said when people find out she’s from Colombia, they have asked her about drugs, or Pablo Escobar. And that’s not what she wants people to think about when they hear the place of her childhood. The movie premier party, she said, will help address cultural stereotypes.

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“I think this is a great opportunity for Colombia, to show that beautiful face, or that magical face and something very positive about my country,” Hudman said. “Now I live in Des Moines and the community had accepted me so well and my business is doing so great here, I thought it was a great opportunity for me to let them know where I come from, and show them that it’s not only the bad part that Colombia has, but a lot of beautiful things.”

Hudman chose to balance her cake business, Euphoria Cakes, and the planning of the red carpet event in collaboration with Spanish media organization Hola Iowa. She’s making a custom cakes for the celebration as well as fulfilling her other orders. She said the extra work is worth it.

“Because we’re gonna be able to get together to support each other to get to know each other. And to let people know that we also support each other in the Latin community,” she said.

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Tickets are $20 apiece to watch Encanto at 6 p.m. Tuesday at The Palms Theatres & IMAX in Waukee (one day before the official premier). Attendees can try Colombian food, learn about different Latino-owned businesses in the area and take photos in a photo booth.

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