Ted Talks have grown in demand due to their refreshing, informative, and exciting topics and speakers. Whether we’re learning about scientific, cultural, political, and academic matters, it is the speaker that brings these topics to life. We especially like when we hear from extraordinary Latinas including Pia Mancini, an activist and technical project leader from Argentina, Isabel Allende and a Chilean writer who spoke about passion. Last week’s speaker touched on a topic that many Latinas could relate to.
America Ferrera gave a Ted Talk and discussed how representation in the media ultimately brings an “extraordinary richness of humanity.”
On April 19, Ferrera was among several speakers at the Session 12 of TED2019 held in Vancouver, Canada. The actress, activist, and director addressed the audience and spoke about who her identity as a Latina of Honduran descent seemed at first to be her obstacle, but she slowly realized it meant more than that.
“My identity is not an obstacle — it’s my superpower,” she said.
The “Superstore” actress said she had to break through the mold of portraying stereotypical roles.
Ferrera said she didn’t want to play the “Gangbanger’s Girlfriend” or “Pregnant Chola #2” but instead more complicated roles.
“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 says, “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.”
She added, “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.”
Ferrera said that Hollywood is more inclusive of minorities, but it’s not enough.
Even though her breakthrough role in “Real Women Have Curves” has launched more diverse characters in Hollywood, she says there’s still so much work that needs to be done.
“Change will come when each of us has the courage to question our own fundamental values and beliefs,” Ferrera said, “and see to it that our actions lead to our best intentions.”
We love the picture of Ferrera’s baby watching her speak during the Ted Talk. She captioned the photo by saying, “My baby boy watching me deliver my talk yesterday at #ted2019 – Thank you @ted for inviting me to share my truth and a message I believe in with my whole heart. #TheFutureIsWatching.”
The 72nd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards were held on Sunday, and big-name stars gathered to celebrate and acknowledge groundbreaking television programs. One of the celebrities that made a special appearance was America Ferrera.
In a segment called “This Is What I Sound Like,” Ferrera spoke about her troubling experiences as a young Latina actress just starting off in Hollywood.
Before the segment, “Grown-ish” actress Yara Shahidi introduced the segment, emphasizing the importance of representation onscreen.
“The stories we tell on TV shape how we see ourselves and others,” she said. “And how we are seen can many times determine how we are treated. The dream of television is the freedom to live our full and nuanced lives outside of boxes and assumptions.”
In a pre-recorded segment, Ferrera then described her first audition in Hollywood–an experience that ended up being a formative one.
“I was 16-years-old when I got my very first audition and I was this little brown chubby Valley Girl who spoke, you know, like a Valley Girl,” Ferrera explained. “I walked in, did my audition. The casting director looked at me and was like, ‘That’s great. Can you do that again, but this time, sound ‘more Latina?””
According to Ferrera, she asked the casting director whether she wanted her to do the audition in Spanish. The casting director declined. Ferrera tried to explain the contradiction of the directions, telling the casting director: “I am a Latina and this is what I sound like.” Needless to say, she did not get the part.
When she went home to tell her family the story, they seemed unsurprised by the blatant stereotyping Ferrera was facing. They told her that the entertainment industry will want her to “speak in broken English” and “sound like a chola”.
“What did you think was gonna happen?” her family members asked her. “[Hollywood was] gonna have you starring in the next role made for Julia Roberts?”
According to Ferrera, the realization that Hollywood saw her in a different way than she saw herself made her want to “create more opportunity for little brown girls to fulfill their talent and their dream.”
Since then, the Honduran-American actress has starred in numerous projects that illustrate the diversity of the Latinx experience in America, from “Real Women Have Curves” to “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” to “Ugly Betty“. Most recently, Ferrera dipped her toe into the producing waters with the bilingual Netflix series “Gentified“.
Although Ferrera is putting in the work for more Latinx representation onscreen, the Television Academy still has a long way to go when it comes to recognizing Latinx talent. Unfortunately, the only Latino person nominated for an Emmy this year was Argentine-Mexican actress Alexis Bledel for her work in “The Handmaid’s Tale”.
Here’s to hoping that Latinos like America Ferrera will continue to make their voices heard, giving inspiration to little brown girls everywhere who want nothing more than to see themselves onscreen.
Renata Bresciani may not be a household name just yet, but it’s only a matter of time before this self-proclaimed “multipassionate entrepreneur” takes over the world. Born in Miami, Florida to parents who immigrated from Chili, Renata Bresciani (who goes by “Miss Renata” to fans) was destined to be an artist and an entertainer. As Miss Renata describes it, dancing was her gateway drug into the entertainment industry. Soon enough, Miss Renata was becoming the definition of a multi-hyphenate business woman, dipping her toe in everything from pin up modeling, acting, fashion blogging, and owning a street-wear brand.
As for what drives her to be constantly creative, leaving others in the dust? “I like to say that I have the ‘performance gene’,” she says. We couldn’t agree more. Recently, we were lucky enough to talk to Miss Renata about her personal style, combating harmful Latino stereotypes in the media, and drawing inspiration from Old Hollywood icons.
Mitú (M):How long did it take you to develop your personal style? Were you always interested in the “pin-up” look?
Renata Bresciani (RB): Honestly, my personal style is constantly evolving. I literally dress based on my mood, but I have been very bold with my style since I was in middle school. Pin-up, retro, classic, and Parisian-vibes are everything to me. I have always been intrigued and attracted to everything vintage, so pin-up style was just an extension to that. I am definitely an old soul that was supposed to be an Old Hollywood actress.
M: How did you get into acting and performing? When did you decide to expand your brand into the influencer sphere?
RB: I’ve been performing since I was three years old and was in gymnastics, dance, and modeling since elementary school. I started musical theater in high school, which I absolutely love! Most importantly, the studio I grew up in (MDA Studios) opened up the doors to performing in Sabado Gigante and Univision, which was a childhood dream. That then opened up the doors to dancing in award shows as a back up dancer, music videos, tours and live television shows. I officially decided to tap into the influencer world in September 2017, with the influence of my husband. I was basically already doing it with some brands, but not really taking it seriously. But my decision to do it officially changed the game!
M: Your social media presence and posts are very uplifting and inspirational. How do you stay positive when you’re having a bad day?
RB: We all have bad days and the truth is, I get cranky sometimes. But, I like to sit back and realize how blessed I am and when I do that, gratitude just fills my heart. Honestly if nothing else happens in my life, God has done so much already that all I can do is be grateful and happy. I do believe the best is yet to come and that everything in life is figure-out-able.
M:Out of all the areas you work in (acting, dancing, modeling, entrepreneurship), what’s your favorite and why?
RB: Wow that is definitely hard, but my favorite is acting! Acting taps into such a creative and emotional part of who I am that it fulfills my creative soul. The ability to transform and walk in someone else’s footsteps to then impact the people watching in a way that can bring them laughter, tears, or even anger is incredible! To evoke emotion is an art. Acting is a form of therapy and break-through for an artist like me who has all the feels. My second is modeling. I love transforming and making people feel something from an image.
M: Do you think Latinas are misrepresented in the media? How do you want them to be represented?
RB: Yes, absolutely Latinas/Latinos are misrepresented! We are bold, resilient, intelligent, passionate people! I want the world to see that! I would like to see more Latinas in this space encouraging women through their career.
M: Why do you think people resonate with your content?
RB: I would like to think its because I encourage people to love themselves, love others, to always believe in their dreams, and and to never give up!
M: Who are some people who inspire you and what advice do you have for others who want to become influencers?
RB:Aureta [Thomollari] inspires me so much, aesthetically and emotionally. She is such a vibe and so encouraging to me as a woman and an entrepreneur. Desi Perkins is also an inspiration–she’s a proud Latina and first-generation American like me. She built a name for herself with her art and she also values family, which is everything to me!
M:Where do you see your career going next? What are you the most proud of having accomplished?
RB: I believe the best is yet to come. And I definitely believe you will be seeing a lot more of me on screen! More film, more series, and bigger fashion partnerships.
M: If you could tell your teenage self one thing, what would it be?
RB: I would tell my teenage self to be patient! I would tell her that she was called to create. To only focus on things that set her soul on fire, to not care about anyone else’s opinions, and I would tell her that she is enough!
M:Do you consider yourself a role model? Why or why not? What does being a role model mean to you?
RB: I think everyone is a role model to someone whether they want to be or not. To me, being a role model encouraging and empowering people to be confident in who they are. It is positively impacting someone in one way or another.
M:What would you tell fans of yours who are looking to follow in your footsteps as an influencer and entrepreneur?
RB: I would tell them that is takes time, to be patient, to work hard, to stay true to themselves, and to love what you do!
M: What’s next for you? Do you have any projects in the works?
RB: I’m so excited for 2020! There are so many things in the works right now that I can’t really talk about, but lets just say that you will be seeing so much more of me!! 2020 is going to be full of amazing opportunities and breakthroughs!