Julissa Calderon Reflects On Her Whirlwind Career And The Pressures Of Being The Face of Afro-Latinidad
Screenshots via FIERCE
You’ve probably seen Julissa Calderon before. The Afro-Latina “Dominicanita that could” has been a presence on both your computer and more recently TV screens for years. Now, as Julissa Calderon would say, she’s “popping off.” Not only is she starring as Yessika in Netflix’s “Gentefied,” and the upcoming Amazon Prime Series “With Love,” but she is also the face of the new ‘Got milk?’/’toma leche‘ campaign.
Recently, Julissa sat down with FIERCE to talk about her success, what keeps her grounded, and imposter syndrome. Here are some of the gems of wisdom that this FIERCE queen dropped in our interview.
On stopping to appreciate the progress we’ve made in our lives:
“I think it’s really interesting because so much so, we don’t look at our progress a lot because we’re constantly looking and what’s next? What’s next? What’s next? Sometimes, when I have time to actually sit down and reflect, and I look at the trajectory of what my life has been in the past couple years, I see the growth, not only in my career, but just as a human and just as a person. I see what my mindset used to be and how it’s not there anymore and it’s for the better.”
On being an example for younger generations by living her truth:
“Hopefully for the next generation of my family — all of the kids — I hope that they’re seeing what I didn’t see. That’s totally fine if you want to do a 9-to-5, but are you happy with your life? Because that’s how I live my truth. Just being happy with what I’m doing and making sure it aligns with who I am every single day.”
On the importance of believing in yourself:
“I always say this: The man who says that he can and the man that says that he can’t — they’re both right. And for me, I’m the girl that says that she can.”
How dropping comparisons and time frames changed her quality of life:
“I’ve taken away the time frame of life. I think that so much so, especially with Instagram, we look at some people and they’re like walking resumes. And it makes you sometimes feel like ‘Am I not doing enough?’ So I’m working on it. I’m not gonna say that I’ve taken it all away. But I’m working every day towards not looking at the next person and comparing. I’m living in the day-to-day and that’s the only thing that’s gonna keep me happy.”
On imposter syndrome:
“I am a very confident woman. But I’d be doing myself and everyone a disservice by saying that sometimes I don’t have those moments of self-doubt, of imposter syndrome, of feeling like I’m not enough….In my last interview, when they asked me what I was doing next, I…mentioned how I have a new Amazon show. But then I said ‘Oh, but I’m only in two episodes.’ And even that, just [groans]. The waitress from five years ago would have been over the moon that she got this. So why am I minimizing it now? There’s no ‘small’ anything.”
On dealing with the pressure of being the “poster child” of Afro-Latinidad:
“I think that there were so many women who did this before me. I think I’m just one of the people that talked about it a lot. When we go back to BuzzFeed…the biggest [videos] that were popping off were me talking about Afro-Latinidad…So I think that people have taken that and been like, ‘Well she’s the girl, because she’s talked about it from the beginning.’ But there’s so many of us doing the work.
“I also feel like for me, it’s just being really transparent and being honest in who I am. This is who I am. I am an Afro-Latina. And although I didn’t grow up with that term…to be on the forefront of this and talk about this because now I have the knowledge, I hope that it impacts everyone into sharing it and knowing it and doing better. Because we’re knowing where we come from and we’re being proud of where we come from.”
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