This isn’t just another newsletter.

This is a place to build community around honest, unfiltered conversations about life as a writer who is 100% immigrant and 100% American. Everyone will get a regular note from me, with a bit about writing and my writings. Subscribers will also have access to exclusive perks: a quick-and-utilitarian six-part video series focused on a writing challenge and solution (for example, what to do to get unstuck?) and the ability to make an appointment for a virtual coffee with me.

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When you subscribe, everything I write (or record, or film) goes straight to your inbox. If you want me to tackle something specific — say, if you struggle to write personal essays or talk to people who aren’t like you — send me a note at

In this space, there are no expectations or assumptions. Come as you are. You’ll see me and hear from me exactly as who I am. We’re more than the labels that define us.

Speaking of labels, here’s a bit about who I am …

I’ve built a diverse career and portfolio since coming to the United States from Brazil in 1998, writing in a language that is not my own. I became The New York Times’ first staff writer from Brazil and, during my 12 years there, one of the few immigrants in the newsroom. I was working as The Times’ Phoenix bureau chief when I chose to quit my job in July 2017 to spend more time with my husband Mike and our daughter Flora. I had no idea how short our time together would be.

On Oct. 2, 2017, Mike was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Thirty days later, he died, taking with him the ideal America he had built for me. Flora was 8 and, I thought, all I had to live for. But one thing death has taught me is that it’s a privilege to be alive and I have a duty to make the best out of my time here. The realization has allowed me to unleash my creativity and find the courage to take on new challenges.

I did a year’s worth of meaningful as editorial director at Futuro Media Group, where I led the talented newsroom that produces Latino USA, In The Thick podcast and Latino Rebels, giving voice and space to the new American majority. I resigned on Aug. 25, 2023 in solidarity for the many colleagues who lost their jobs through a devastating round of layoffs. I also worked as a contributing columnist for The Washington Post and, from my home in New York, hold a part-time appointment as a professor of practice at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University, coaching mid-career international journalists on a fellowship at the school in storytelling and leadership. I’m a writing coach in the Poynter Institute’s Power of Diverse Voices, a seminar focused on elevating the voices of journalists of color. I wrote a book, The Fire Line, a work of narrative nonfiction about 19 firefighters killed in one of the deadliest wildfires in U.S. history, and I’m now at work on a memoir. I‘m part of the creative team behind ¡Americano!, a musical based on the life of an Arizona Dreamer that ran Off Broadway in spring 2022.

I’m strong and unafraid. My vulnerabilities are my power. I am. I am. I am.

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Subscribe to By Fernanda Santos

Immigrant-American writer. Unfiltered and unafraid.


I am the voice of the new American mainstream. Proven leader, conceiver and editor in digital and audio platforms. Here to defy the labels that exist to box me in. Immigrant. American. Chingona.