Victor and Erika Webnovela: An Innovative Generation @ Audience Engagement Strategy for Prevention

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Journal of Health Communication








Entertainment-education (E-E) approaches for young audiences continue to evolve in order to keep stride with younger generations affinity for technology. E-E and novelas have been used with a wide variety of audiences in the United States, in particular hard-to-reach Latino populations, and have demonstrated effectiveness in disseminating culturally relevant prevention information for a wide variety of health-related risk factors and behaviors. This study discusses the formative research and active engagement of Latino youth living in Langley Park, Maryland, for the development and filming of an innovative 6-episode webnovela titled Victor and Erika (V&E). V&E is part of a larger branding strategy of the Adelante Positive Youth Development intervention that seeks to prevent substance abuse, sexual risk, and interpersonal violence among Latino youth; V&E is also an intervention component. The V&E webnovela is a dramatic portrayal of the lives of 2 immigrant Latino teenagers that also disseminates risk prevention messages. The storyline represents the turning the corner (to a better life) theme that underlies the Adelante intervention brand. Formative research was conducted for character development (n = 20) and creative development of the episodes (n = 14). Results of the formative research showed that youth recommended inclusion of the following topics in V&E episodes: sex, unintended pregnancy, fidelity, trust, family dynamics, immigration status, violence, school dropout, respect, home life, and poverty. Detailed character and episode descriptions are provided, and the implications of using the V&E series as a tool for in-person and online engagement of youth and the dissemination of prevention messages are also discussed.