America Ferrera kills it both on and off the screen! As if she could be any more inspiring, the Emmy-award winning actor, director and producer appeared onstage on Friday, April 19 at TED 2019 to deliver a talk about her journey in the entertainment business as a fellow Latina. “My identity is not an obstacle — it’s my superpower,” said the Superstore actress. America, whose breakout role was in Real Women Have Curves, spoke of how challenging it was to not be considered for roles that weren’t tied to age-old Latina stereotypes such as “Gangbanger’s Girlfriend” and “Pregnant Chola #2.”
America was in search of roles that didn't portray her as a “Gangbanger’s Girlfriend” or “Pregnant Chola #2"
Instead, the Honduran-American beauty strived for landing roles that served up real-life and challenging situations viewers could relate to. Following her breakout role, America landed the starring role of Betty in Ugly Betty where she could be her authentic self at work. “I wanted to play people who existed in the center of their own lives, not cardboard cutouts that stood in the background of someone else’s,” she explained. “Who we see thriving in the world teaches us how to see ourselves, how to think about our own value, how to dream about our futures.”
The mom-of-one values her identity as her superpower
On its first season, Ugly Betty was nominated for 11 Emmys. The series went on to inspire many viewers, who resonated with the show’s relatable characters. America continued, “In spite of what I’d been told my whole life, I saw firsthand that my ‘unrealistic expectations’ to see myself authentically represented in the culture were other people’s expectations too.”
Besides being a new mommy to her 11-month-old, Sebastian, and a human rights advocate, America continues to pave the way for fellow Latina actresses. “Change will come when each of us has the courage to question our own fundamental values and beliefs,” said America, “and see to it that our actions lead to our best intentions.” You go, girl!