Your identity is not an obstacle but a superpower

Updated: May 15

A nine-year-old girl named America Ferrara had a dream to be an actress. It was that she never looked like an actress in television of the film industry, but her teachers, friends and family members always warned her that people like her can't make it in Hollywood. But she is an American. She was taught that anyone could achieve anything, regardless of the colour of skin. She didn't need her dream her to be easy to be achieved, she just needed it to be possible. At the age of 15, she gave her first professional audition. It was a commercial for a cable subscription. The casting director asked her that she sound more like Latina. There was a long and awkward silence in the audition room. She was in deep thought wandering that did Latina sounds the way she sounds. Later she was said goodbye by casting director. She left the audition room. She later realized that the casting director actually was asking her to speak broken English. She was even rejected for a role. This is not the first time had he faced rejection. The roles she were offered where like gang- banger's girlfriend, the sassy shoplifter, pregnant Chola number two and many such more just because she was too brown, two fat, too poor and too unsophisticated. The roles offered were farther from what she wanted to play. She wanted to play roles like people who were complex and multidimensional, who existed in the centre of their own lives. She did not want to be like cardboard cutouts that stood in the background of someone else. When she said this to her manager about her dream roles, he said her that these were unrealistic expectations. So he was fired. But in her mind, she was believed that what he said was not wrong at the end. She tried a lot of times to get roles but only got responses again and again like they were not looking for such a role or she is too especially ethnic. She only got one message that her identity was an obstacle and she has to overcome all the things that people said were wrong with her. She stayed out of the sun so that her skin doesn't get two brown, straightened her curly hairs, tried to lose weight and even bought fancy and expensive clothes. People only see what she was capable off and maybe they would give her a chance. One day there was an ironic twist in her life. She was offered her the dream role which she always dreamt. She played the role of Ana in "Real women have curves". This character requires the exact same character she was. The original America Ferrara. People loved to watch this film and hence this film became a critical, cultural and financial success. Four years hence she got to play Ugly Butty. It was premiered in the US to 16 million viewers. The film even got nominated in 11 Emmys in its first year itself. She even won an Emmy for her performance in the lead role. In spite of this success, there was no other television show or film on such stories for eight years in America. Winning award was not a point of pride but was a point of frustrations. She went into a great depression. She cried a lot but one thing came in her mind is that she is matured and crying doesn’t suit her.

Towards conclusion...

Presence creates possibility. In their culture, some of them can access presence but some of them can't. Their stories don't have an audience to see, their experiences won't resonate in the mainstream and their voices are too big for taking a financial risk. They are good at acting, no doubt. But no one finances such films where Latino people worked.

She heard her whole life by teachers, parents, other family members, friends, directors, writers, and producers that she was a less valued person. She noticed that one thing that she was not asking the system to change but was asking to let her in. She couldn't change what system believed about her, while she believed what the system thought about her.

Conclusions

Change isn't going to come by identifying the good and bad buy because we are neither of these two. But change will come when each one of us has the courage to question our own fundamental values and beliefs and then we should see to it that our actions lead to our best intentions. She is the one who is ready to stop resisting and started existing as her and authentic self. She proved that her identity is not her obstacle, but her identity is her superpower.