Actress Francia Raisa has made a name for herself through her memorable, and often hilarious, performances in productions that center on the journeys of young adulthood.

Her roles in “Bring It On: All Or Nothing,” “The Secret Life of the American Teenager,” “Grown-Ish,” and “How I Met Your Father” have endeared her to audiences and solidified her status as a talented actress and a Latina we’ve all grown to love. 

Yet amidst the constant buzz surrounding her friendship with Selena Gomez and the sensationalized online conflicts, Raisa’s personal journey into adulthood remains overlooked. 

This is why I seized the opportunity to sit down with her at the 2023 Raizado festival. Her candid takes on therapy, taking antidepressants, managing PCOS, and being the daughter of Latino immigrants will resonate deeply with 30-something Latinas. And yes, she also offers her perspective on the relentless Selena-related news stories.

In a conference room offering breathtaking views of the Aspen, Colorado mountain peaks, Raisa sat barefoot, wrapped in a cozy blanket. She had just wrapped up her role co-hosting panels at Raizado. Hosted by The Latinx House, Raizado is a first-of-its-kind festival that brings together and uplifts the many contributions of the Latinx community. 

Reflecting on her role at the festival, Raisa noted, “Raizado means community to me, it means learning amongst my peers. For a long time in this industry, I was alone. I didn’t realize how much of my depression came from not being around people who knew or understood my background.”

Considering her background and having heard about her notorious diva reputation beforehand, I was eager to delve into the story behind it.

“My dad ventured to L.A. from humble beginnings in Honduras, facing a level of poverty that’s hard to imagine. I can’t quite recall a time when we weren’t struggling financially, but there was a period when we found ourselves sleeping in a tent inside an apartment devoid of furniture,” shared the star of “How I Met Your Father.” 

Raisa’s father, Renán Almendárez Coello, renowned as El Cucuy De La Mañana, is a Honduran-American radio personality. When she started her acting career, determined to establish her success independently, Raisa opted to alter her surname. Nevertheless, the reputation persisted. 

“As my dad’s name got bigger, his ego got bigger. And he raised [me and my sisters] to have that same ego,” she explains. “It took a lot of therapy and a lot of broken friendships to understand that my dad kind of raised me inappropriately in that sense. He raised us to be brats. I’ve worked really hard to get out of that mindset.”

At 35, it’s evident Raisa has dedicated considerable time to personal growth. She’s self-aware, genuine, and most notably, empathic toward her upbringing, lauding her parents for their role in her life. Yet she remains candid about her struggles accepting criticism and grappling with body image issues.

“For a long time I was upset, but if you really think about it, my parents didn’t know any better.”

Adding, “I’m not saying he was a bad dad. All immigrant parents moved out here to have a better life and to be great so they’re going to give us all the tools that they think we need to be great, not knowing all the tools are mentally screwing us because now I have body dysmorphia.”

Understanding her parents did the best they could, she now relies on herself to break the cycle of generational trauma. She sees her therapist consistently, who she says advised her to wear matching underwear as a tool to boost self-confidence. While she saved her matching sets for dates, she now says the tip is really effective. 

Turning to her love life I couldn’t help but wonder if her parents had been eager to push her toward marriage and starting a family, in the way that is common among Latino families.

“I think my family is more so wondering when I’m going to have a partner,” she says. “They said things to me when I was 24, now at 35 nadie me dice nada.” 

Speaking of timeliness, Raisa is no exception to the one that looms over many women in their 30s (though only if we let it!), which is why she froze her eggs two years ago, a decision that led to her learning she has PCOS.

“When I got my PCOS it made a lot of sense. Two weeks before my period I was always crying. I was in a hole. On social media it looked like everything was great but I was so depressed. I started having crazy thoughts…in January I couldn’t do it anymore,” she explains. “I had done everything I could without medical help so I got on Zoloft. It’s a little help, it’s a little edge off. I don’t feel crazy. I’m able to look at my life and situations around me from the outside in.”

Having dedicated herself to personal growth and experiencing what she describes as the “best” time of her life, marked by “healthy” dating and thriving in her mid-thirties, Raisa opens up about her perspective on her friendship with Selena Gomez, a storyline that remains part of her narrative.

“When ‘organ donor’ started becoming part of my title, I was like ‘I have worked in this business for so long.’ And it’s not that it bothered me, I appreciate my fans for being like ‘She’s more than that, she’s an actress.’ But I was like you know what? People care. I can’t be upset about this. I’m just going to live in it,” she shares.

Recalling a time when anything she said was a “soundbite” and realizing she was “getting in trouble” when discussing her relationship with Gomez, she cleverly transformed this into an opportunity to highlight her latest venture into making salsa. 

When asked what the tea is with her and the “Only Murders in the Building Star,” her response is refreshingly simple: “No beef, just salsa.”

To that we say, pass the chips!