Entertainment

Here’s What You Need To Know About Francia Raísa Before She Blows Up

Francia Raísa, born Francia Raísa Almendarez, is an actress born and raised in Los Angeles. Maybe you’ve heard of her, maybe you haven’t. She is in “Grown-ish,” she gave her BFF Selena Gomez a kidney and she will soon be in a starring role in “Life-Size 2” alongside Tyra Banks. Here’s everything you need to know to know Raísa. Watch out: to know her is to love her.

1. She’s Mexican and Honduran AF.

@franciaraisa / Instagram


Her father is actually the famous Honduran radio personality, “El Cucuy”, which is also known as the boogey man en espanish. He actually has a Hollywood star of his very own, which, according to Raísa is “so crazy!”

“It’s pretty incredible to have been a personal witness to all the hard work my dad has put into his career and looking out for his communidad. My dad has a star on the Hollywood walk of fame y’all! Our last name is on a star!!! So crazy!”

2. You probably recognize her from Bring it On: All or Nothing.

“Adrian Lee wallpaper probably with a basketball player called Francia Raisa in bring it on” Digital Image. Fanpop. 18 July 2018.


Raísa was actually a cheerleader in her own high school. She started taking acting and modeling jobs her junior year at Bishop Alemany High School. A month into her senior year, she booked her first lead role (pictured above), which wasn’t too far off the mark from her every day life.

With that gig, Raísa has been an actress for well over 10 years now, but has been taking dance classes since she was 5 years old. Just find any video of her dancing and you’ll see how that’s paid off.

3. Or maybe your mind was blown by her role in “The Secret Life of the American Teenager.”

“Francia Raisa in The Secret Life of the American Teenager (2008)” Digital Image. IMDB. 18 July 2018.


She played Adrian Lee for the duration of its five season stint on Freeform (then, ABC Family). In the show, she played a girl who doesn’t have love at home and tries to find it with boys. Adrian ends up getting pregnant after a condom broke and she was intent on getting an abortion until she backed out after pressure from her father.

In a very emotional season finale, Adrian goes into labor and gives birth to a stillborn. Adrian’s character rose awareness for the depression most mothers experience after that kind of loss. Mostly Francía slayed the role.

4. Soon, you’ll know her as the star in “Life Size 2”.

@franciaraisa / Instagram


The film has officially started production and is expected to be a “fun, edgy, modern Christmas movie.” You can find it on Freeform in December. Needless to say, Raísa is ecstatic about it. We get to have both Tyra Banks and Raísa in the same room… for hours of episodes? I can’t wait to see this dynamic.

Caption: “Cheesin so hard because I get to work with the amazing @tyrabanks on the sequel of one of my favorite childhood movies #lifesize2 #shinebrightshinefar #smizing ???????? Look out for it this holiday season on @freeform”

5. She also gave a kidney to her BFF Selena Gomez.

@DonateLifeCA / Twitter


The two were roommates and when Raísa witnessed Gomez struggle to open a water bottle and throw it across the room in frustration, she then learned everything. Gomez needed a kidney due to complications from her lupus and it would probably be 7-10 years until she got one.

Immediately, Raísa offered hers. One day later, they found out she was a match and they went into major, life-threatening surgery. She told magazine, “Recovery was hard. I didn’t want to eat, I didn’t want to drink anything. Selena did have a complication, too. A few hours after our surgery, I woke up and had a text from her that said, ‘I’m really scared.’ My kidney was very active, and when she turned, she broke an artery. They had to take her into emergency surgery and get a vein from her leg and build a new artery to keep my kidney in place.”

6. This BFF pair go way back and even call each other hermanas.

@franciaraisa / Instagram


Caption: “I went through heartbreak this year and you left the studio and drove out of your way to come see me and comfort me. I received good news last month and you facetimed me minutes before you went up on stage just to congratulate me. There are so many moments we have and things you do that I cherish and don’t take for granted. Whether its crying, laughing, or simply sitting on my kitchen floor throwing our hands up in the air confused at life, I’m thankful you’re always there. I am obsessed with every memory we’ve built in the last 8 years and the ones we have yet to create. I am so grateful that God put you in my life when he did. If you think about the time that we met and where we were in our lives when we first hung out, his timing was perfect. It’s been so inspiring watching you grow and to grow with you. I learn so much from you and I’m so so so proud of you. Happy Birthday Hermana. Love you so so so much @selenagomez”

7. Raísa even presented Gomez with Billboard’s “Woman of the Year” award last year.

Billboard / YouTube


In her introduction speech, she told the crowd that, “Our Latina sisterhood has connected us professionally and personally.” Literally just months before they underwent surgery and had been laying low for the painful recovery.

“We didn’t want to tell anybody because recovery was very hard for us, and we went through a depression at the time,” she said. “We kind of just wanted to be normal and not have that attention on us. I really left it up to her. I’ve never had anything personal come out about me before. I’ve dated very famous people, and no one knows because I’m very private. I was like, ‘Did you have to be famous?’”

8. Gomez thanked her best friend and admitted, “She saved my life.”

@Z100NewYork / Twitter


In Gomez’s acceptance speech, she got emotional and told the crowd that Francia deserves the award because “she saved my life.” The two started to tear up and then gathered themselves, even though we were all shipping this very valid emotional sisterhood.

“Selena and I both went through a depression,” Raísa told Self. “She had some complications with hers and she has bigger scars … I remember getting a text message from Selena saying, ‘I’m so scared I might die.'”

9. Fun fact: Raísa’s manager is Gomez’s stepdad.

@BoyMeetsGirlusa / Twitter


The two girls had met over a decade ago when Disney and Freeform mandated some of their actors to visit a children’s hospital. “Selena and I were in the same group and we just clicked,” Raísa said.

I can so see these little babies hitting it off as their tween selves. I only wish that someone had the foresight to film the moment they met. You know… for the inevitable documentary that the public deserves on the history of their life-saving friendship.

10. The two have had each other’s backs ever since.

@franciaraisa / Twitter


“I love her to death,” Raisa told Wetpaint in 2012. “She’s my sister and she is one of the sweetest girls I know. She is so caring and so loving and so nurturing. She’s awesome. I don’t know where she came from.”

Who would ever guess that just a few years later, she would commit a kidney to to her hermana alma. The two went through post-surgical depression together and have only grown stronger. Francía even said that the experience gave her a new lens on life. “Life came into perspective. I learned a lot.”

11. P.S. Raísa’s baby face is iconic.

@franciaraisa / Twitter


That is the quinceañera of every girl’s dreams. In this throwback post, Raísa poured out gratitude for her parents and family for being by her side throughout the years. She’s proud to be Latino and from Los Angeles. She has two younger sisters named Italia and Irlanda, which makes Francia… France.

It’s pretty obvious that they’re proud to be an international family and bring other countries into the mix with a Spanish twist, claro que si.

12. Raísa grew up with all the dogs.

Gkoii Choi / YouTube


We’re Latino. We have the tiniest, hairiest dogs that require all the most intensive grooming imaginable because we’re all beauty school drop outs who love to do hair. OK, that’s a mad stereotype, but it is 100% true of my family. Just as long as you step away from my hair with that spinning curling iron. Having a fluffy dog requires hours of grooming, and hours of sanity for the young girls in the house.

P.S.-Someone who cares about the #squish needs to bring back those flip flops, please.

13. To this day, she’s all about adopting and never shopping for animals.

@franciaraisa / Twitter


And we love her for it. This is Roman Gatsby. He gets to cuddle with Raísa on the regular. She is very, clearly obsessed with him and we can spot pictures of her and him snuggling under the covers every other week. Be sure to follow Raísa on Instagram to get the inside scoop on Gatsby’s very busy, celebrity dog life.

He’s pro-mutt, you guys. You have to love him. It’s a basic “I’m buena gente” requirement.

14. Raísa told her 1 million followers exactly how they can help children at the border.

@franciaraisa / Instagram


Caption: “Over 2,000 children have been separated from their parents in the last two months! It is wrong! It is inhumane! Children are children! They should not be sleeping in cages, using foil as blankets for warmth wondering where their guardian is. These children are at a higher risk of being trafficked and raped! Use your voice and call your reps! #keepfamiliestogether (swipe the photo)”

She hasn’t stopped since then. Her feed also reads like a political news source in times of crisis. She’ll guide you through the next horrific thing Cheeto does to the nation.

15. She’s also a major advocate to raise awareness about sex trafficking.

@franciaraisa / Instagram


More specifically, sex slavery. In a recent post, she told her fans that slavery isn’t over. Young girls trafficked are hidden in the shadows of society, and make up a billion dollar industry. ???? ????

Caption: “I’m so grateful that I’ve come to a place in my life where my birthday doesn’t revolve around gifts. I have everything I need this birthday and so now the best gift I can get is a gift I can give. @uheroes is an incredible anti-human trafficking organization that I’ve been working with for many years. They rescue children from sex slavery and this year I want to give the gift of freedom and redemption to 5 more girls. Can you give this gift with me? There are 27 million people trapped in slavery all over the world, and if you donate $27 or more you will get this cool shirt that I helped design as a free gift to you. Click on the link in my bio to become an unlikely hero. Thank you for giving the gift of freedom for my birthday!”

16. Moreover, she also voted in the local elections this June.

@franciaraisa / Twitter


And she tweeted to her fans about it. Our complacency is what allowed Trump to take the office of the POTUS, and we have to exercise our right/obligation to vote to protect our democracy.

Plus, you know she’s hella supporting March for Our Lives and our sister Emma Gonzalez in her fight to get as many registered voters as possible in time for midterm elections. We’re just #60DaysAway from the most important election in our generation’s history. It’s time to take back the House, all!

17. Fun fact: She was in Lil’ Romeo’s music video “My Girlfriend” in 2004.

Romeo! Show / YouTube


Her name was Tamy, and she rocked that horizontal striped turtleneck in front of those neon lights. While this happened in the early 2000s, her and Lil Romeo have stayed close throughout the years. In 2015, Raísa posted this sweet note on Lil Romeo’s birthday:

“You have such an incredible heart and spirit and I’m so grateful to call you one of my best friends. Whenever I need you you’re always there and I can’t begin to express how much your loyalty means to not only me but to so many. You’re an incredible human Rome. You’re siblings are so lucky to have you as their big bro. I love you and I’m so excited for this next chapter in your life. Enjoy this little throwback. Happy Birthday @romeomiller.”

18. Raísa’s career has seriously taken off this year.

@JJ_Alani / Twitter


She just starred in a film, “Beyond Paradise,” where she plays an Indian girl in an arranged marriage. She eventually falls for her piano teacher’s lover and risks everything. How does she stay grounded?

Raísa journals for an hour a day. From her [Instagram] mouth: “My form of prayer, personal creativity, and overall expression of emotions is through journaling. It’s amazing how much you learn about yourself and grow just from writing. There are goals and dreams I set for myself and I tend to add new ones everyday. Sometimes life gets a little chaotic and one forgets, but because I write them down they are in my subconscious and I’m working towards them even if I don’t realize it. I’ve been able to let go of pain, forgive, and learn to love again just from writing in my journal. Even when I don’t have anything to say I just write. So I find a way to take an hour out of my day, every day, just to journal.”

19. She has been slaying in “Grown-ish,” released earlier this year.

Untitled. Digital Image. EW. 18 July 2018.


The spin-off from “Black-ish” follows eldest daughter Zoey as she starts her freshman year of college and finds Zoey (Francia Raísa) as her roommate. Zoey is the daughter of Cuban immigrants, a devout Catholic and a Republican with a secret crush on Barack Obama.

We’re happy to see Raísa playing a role that defies stereotypes and shows Republicans that they can have a heart for immigrants and Latinos while keeping all their money away from government, etc. #TeamZoey

20. Despite her giant workload, she continues to keep her humor alive.

@franciaraisa / Twitter

I feel so validated. Yes, my parents stay out later than me, but if Raísa is staying in, so am I. Good thing that we can watch so much of her work on Netflix! You can stream The Secret Life of an American Teenager in your piyamas, family size Cheeto bag on deck and revel in the drama of fictional pregnant teenagers and trust that Francía is probably doing something of the same.

Work hard, rest harder, right? Oh, and scroll through her tweets for the occasional jaja when Adrian’s life is getting too intense for comfort.

21. There’s no doubt that this is Raísa’s year, and we’re totally here for it.

@franciaraisa / Instagram

Caption: “I’ve gone through so many changes this last year. And in those changes I’ve gotten the opportunity to meet so many incredible, humble women who are very successful but still take the opportunity to encourage and mentor other women around them. I’ve sat with them and they don’t tell me about what they have going on. They look me in the eye and encourage me and cheer me on. It was a beautiful lesson for me and I realized that our inner light is amplified when we humble ourselves and help others. I’ve never regretted cheering someone else on, ever. I’ve never regretted choosing inclusion over exclusion, ever. I’ve never regretted chasing vulnerability over validation, ever.We need light the most, not when we can see, but when we can’t. Who needs your light today? Who needs to know that they’re doing great and their hard work is paying off? Tag a friend, a humble over achiever, who deserves recognition for all of the things that they do. ✨”

I’d highlight the parts that matter, but they all do. Thank you Francia Raísa for all that you do and we’re cheering for you! Share to cheer louder.


READ: Here Are 25 Of Selena’s Most Iconic Photos


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America Ferrera Celebrates 20th Anniversary Of Working On ‘Gotta Kick It Up’ With Sweet IG Post

Entertainment

America Ferrera Celebrates 20th Anniversary Of Working On ‘Gotta Kick It Up’ With Sweet IG Post

It has been 20 years since America Ferrera’s dream of becoming an actor back true. She took to Instagram to reflect on the moment that her dream started to come true and it is a sweet reminder that anyone can chase their dreams.

America Ferrera shared a sweet post reflecting on the 20th anniversary of working on “Gotta Kick It Up!”

“Gotta Kick It Up!” was one of the earliest examples of Latino representation so many of us remember. The movie follows a school dance team trying to be the very best they could possibly be. The team was down on their luck but a new teacher introduces them to a different kind of music to get them going again.

After being introduced to Latin beats, the dance team is renewed. It taps into a cultural moment for the Latinas on the team and the authenticity of the music makes their performances some of the best.

While the movie meant so much to Latino children seeing their culture represented for the first time, the work was a major moment for Ferrera. In the Instagram post, she gushes over the celebrities she saw on the lot she was working on. Of course, anyone would be excited to see Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt hanging out. Yet, what stands out the most is Ferrera’s own excitement to realize that she can make money doing what she loves most.

“I wish I could go back and tell this little baby America that the next 20 years of her life will be filled with unbelievable opportunity to express her talent and plenty of challenges that will allow her to grow into a person, actress, producer, director, activist that she is very proud and grateful to be. We did it baby girl. I’m proud of us,” Ferrera reflects.

Watch the trailer for “Gotta Kick It Up!” here.

READ: America Ferrera’s “Superstore” Is Going To Get A Spanish-Language Adaptation In A Win For Inclusion

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Cast Of ‘In The Heights’ Want You To Know The Importance Of Going To College

Entertainment

Cast Of ‘In The Heights’ Want You To Know The Importance Of Going To College

Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tony-winning Broadway musical In the Heights is finally coming to the big screen, and it has a star-studded cast to make it happen! Joined by Quiara Alegría Hudes – who wrote the book for the musical – and Crazy Rich Asians director Jon Chu, Miranda amplifies the musical’s poignant narrative about community and pursuing your dreams with stunning visuals and tons of amazing music inspired by the rich Latinx culture of Washington Heights.

Ahead of the film’s opening at the Tribeca Film Festival, Lin-Manuel Miranda and several members of the cast join Maria Hinojosa for a poignant discussion on what the film means to them and the importance of going to college no matter who you are or where your come from.

Cast members share their own very unique experiences of growing up and making it into college.

Maria Hinojosa of Latino USA on NPR is joined by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Quiara Alegría Hudes, Leslie Grace (who plays ‘Nina’), and Corey Hawkins, all of whom share their unique and profound experiences with deciding on if they would go to college and what they went through to get there.

So many of us are first or second generation college students, reaping the benefits of the hard work put in by our parents and abuelos to help us achieve our dreams. But not all of us share the same path to university, something made very clear as each of these In The Heights cast members make very clear with their own journeys.

Lin-Manuel acknowledges his own privilege on his path to university and how it influenced the film.

Manuel says that he had an advantage in his journey, thanks to his parents who really helped cultivate that desire for learning from a young age. He was able to attend a prestigious private school as a child but even then recognized a duality within him existed – going as Lin at school (in a predominantly white space) and Lin-Manuel back at home.

Upon going to college at Wesleyan University, Manuel met and made Latino friends, a lot of whom were first from their families to go to college. Many didn’t get the same crash course in code switching that he did from a younger age, so for many of his peers it was tough for them to adjust to college life.

By the end of his first year in college, his roommates at the Latino program house shrunk from eight other members to just four. This struggle and conflict with their time in college and their Latinx identity is reflected in the character Nina and her own struggle with returning to her home in Washington Heights.

For Quiara, the story of Nina’s journey is particularly personal.

Much like Lin-Manuel Miranda, Quiara Alegría Hudes’ parents were also leaders in their community. Her father was a prominent businessman while her mother was an activist in her community. But unlike Manuel, her parents didn’t attend university, it wasn’t something that was on their path. She points out that “it wasn’t that they didn’t treasure learning, it’s just that university wasn’t part of that path.”

Quiara – who attended Yale – says that she was very conflicted as a half Latina and half white woman even though she had often grown up in white spaces. However, she wasn’t prepared for being in a space with so few Latinos. She had to learn how to merge those two parts of her life that she felt were drifting further and further apart.

The cast discusses ‘imposter syndrome’ and how to fight it.

Imposter syndrome is very real. And it can often affect those of us who feel like we don’t deserve our achievements or recognition. Maria asks the cast to how they overcame it and how they learned to own their space.

Leslie Grace reminds us that “you have a story only you can tell and you need to tap into your feelings of potential.”

Check out the full trailer for In The Heights below.

The festival’s opening night screening will be held on June 9 at the United Palace theater in Washington Heights. For the first time ever, Tribeca’s inaugural film will be screened simultaneously across all five boroughs in multiple open-air venues.

Following the opening night of Tribeca, “In the Heights” will debut in theaters and on the HBO Max streaming service on June 11. It was originally scheduled to be released last year, but Warner Bros. postponed its release due to the pandemic.

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