“You’re thinking about giving something up? Don’t. ‘Cause I bet you the second you’re about to, is the second it’s about to happen.”
During a recent interview at her alma mater, New York University, Gina Rodriguez had some powerful words of inspiration for up-and-coming actors. The “Jane the Virgin” star revealed that she was a struggling actor for about a decade before landing a role that allowed her to finally “arrive.” While working toward her big break, it gave Rodriguez time to mature and become the kind of woman she wanted to see in the industry. To an audience of actors and students, she said she was appreciative of the “lovely obstacles” in her path which made her grateful for all the opportunities she’s been fortunate to get. After all of those wonderful words of inspiration, interviewer Leigh Blickley, pointed out that Rodriguez’s acting professor from her days at NYU was in the audience and they shared a beautiful moment of appreciation and gratitude.
She doubled down on the idea of following your dreams by telling her success story, saying, “As a 33-year-old woman, who wanted to be an actress before she graduated college, who thought she was going to be discovered before she graduated college, that did not happen. But what else did not happen, is that I didn’t give up.”
She followed up by speaking highly of her education and what it meant to her as a Latina.
Credit: BUILD Series/ YouTube
“Get your education. Nobody can stop you.”
After the interview, she followed her acting professor to her class to give those drama students the surprise of their lives.
Luis Alfonso Chimbo and Ana Soria had come a long way since they met as children in Cuenca, Ecuador. They were married, living in Brooklyn with their son, and 34-year-old Chimbo was working for the Windows of the World restaurant–the very top floor of the North Tower of the World Trade Center. Chimbo had been promoted to a management position in the receiving department that takes inventory and stocks supplies. They were living the American dream as undocumented immigrants in New York City. In August, Ana Soria suffered a miscarriage. He took nearly a month off to be with her and care for the family.
He was due to return to work on September 11, 2001.
The morning of 9/11, Chimbo got up at 5 a.m. and left for work.
The night before, he set his clothes out for his first day back and prepared a bag. He was always prepared. Chimbo would usually kiss Soria as he got out of bed. That morning, he didn’t. Soria went to their window and said, “Goodbye, my love” as he drove away.
Hours later, while working at the restaurant, Chimbo was trapped on the top floor of the North Tower after a plane was flown into the tower.
The Windows of the World staff included immigrants from over 24 countries.
The 9/11 attack killed 170 people in Windows alone. Chimbo was one of 73 employees who perished. Arguably, those employees were some of the least-paid victims of the attack, which presented a moral challenge for Special Master Kenneth Feinberg, who had to allocate the $7 billion in the Victims Compensation Fund. Five thousand five hundred and sixty people applied as injured or dependents of the deceased. Feinberg’s initial formula was based on “economic loss”–meaning families of stockbrokers would receive more money than Chimbo’s family. The formula also rested on the presumption that lower-income workers would remain in their earning class for the rest of their lives–the antithesis of “The American Dream.”
Stories like Chimbo’s made a “tremendous impact” on Feinberg’s new formula.
In fact, the owner of Windows of the World and the executive chef Michael Lomonaco testified to Feinberg on behalf of lower-paid employees with a high potential for further promotions. In the case of Chimbo, they gave Feinberg evidence that he started out as a stock boy and grew to become a manager in the receiving department. “The structure of the restaurant reflected the American Dream, which I don’t use as a cliché but as an actual possibility,” Debra Steinberg told Tom Roston, the author of “The Most Spectacular Restaurant in the World.”
Steinberg represented Soria along with thirty-seven other Windows of the World workers. “When you drill down into the stories of the immigrants who worked at Windows on the World, most of them said that it was the dream job. They walked with pride in their step. It was an astonishing place.” Feinberg told Roston that he used “discretion to bring up the lower end worker and reduce the stockbrokers and hedge fund managers,” granting higher payments to lower-paid victims of the attack.
A dozen of the Windows workers were undocumented.
Feinberg looked to the congressional statute that allocated the funds and said it became clear. Documentation or nationality was not a factor into who becomes a legal victim and who does not in the eyes of the United States. The fund was for all victims of the attacks.
As an undocumented person, Soria was terrified to ask for help in the days after the attack.
“I was scared,” she says in Roston’s book. “[And] I was thinking that maybe I did not deserve it because this was not my country.” Finally, it was her son that prompted her to recall that at least he is deserving of medical care. Amidst the terror, her son needed asthma medication, so Soria went to Manhattan. Still, she doesn’t remember much about that day but remembers the help of fellow Americans to ensure her family got what they needed.
Would undocumented immigrants be met with the same courtesy today?
In the decades that have since passed, Soria has become a chef.
She was taking culinary lessons at the time of the series of tragic life events –the miscarriage, the terrorist attack, the loss of her husband. Six years after 9/11, she returned to culinary school. Fifteen years after 9/11 tore her family apart, she received a green card. Her son has become a photographer and captured the above image of his mother.
She goes to the North reflecting pool every year on 9/11. Last year, she went on his birthday and left a flower and a birthday card which read: “To the love of my life, happy birthday to you. Surprise, you didn’t know I was coming.”
Back in February of this year, “Roma” actress Yalitza Aparicio dominated fashion headlines after her appearance on the red carpet of the Oscars. The actress made her first appearance at the 91st Academy Awards as a Best Actress nominee for her breakout role as Cleo a maid of Mixteco heritage working for a family in Mexico City during the early 1970s. Aparicio had already had a big night, not only had she nailed a coveted nominee slot, she’d done so for her first role ever in a movie. And while awe over her talent was much talked about, it was the mint-green and silver metallic tulle gown she wore by Rodarte that caught so much attention.
The fashion brand has long been an established designer on red carpets but there’s no denying the actress has helped raise interest in its designers. The red carpet match of the designers and the actress proved not only to be a success at the Oscars, but it also proved worthy of a lasting partnership.
For the fashion brand’s latest lookbook, Aparicio was selected as a model.
The rising star wowed in the brand’s dreamy fashion shoot.
Aparicio appeared in the Spring lookbook in a polka-dot belted black and white dress and a pair of sheer gloves studded with pearls which also speckle her hair. She modeled the dress in a magazine that featured Hollywood veterans such as Gabrielle Union and Kirsten Dunst.
Aparicio appeared in simple colors and extravagant gowns.
For her other appearance, the actress could be seen wearing a black and white plaid dress that featured a ruffle color and puff sleeves.
Of course, it didn’t take long for reactions to Aparcio’s appearance to set fire online.
Fans of the actress were quick to call her a “reina” and other celebrities including “Mad Men” actor January Jones, who also appeared in the shoot, commented “Love. ❤️”
Aparicio’s feature is another reminder, that the indigenous actress has her heels dug into Hollywood and the fashion industry and isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
Back in January of this year, Vogue México honored the actress with a feature and photoshoot that served as an ode to her culture and home state of Oaxaca. Not only was she featured on the magazine’s cover, but she was also thrown a party at the Patio del Huaje en el Jardín Etnobotanico in Oaxaca.
While the finicky nature of Hollywood and its attention to actresses of color has a strong pattern, Yalitza’s star does not seem to be dwindling. In fact, her appearance in the lookbook nearly seven months after her appearance at the Oscars, and without any announcements of new roles, proves she must have a lot coming up for herself.
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