Ni de aquí ni de allá is a saying usually used by Mexican-Americans who feel like they’re not Mexican enough, and not yet American enough. But Afro-Latinas are also experiencing the same identity push-n-pull. Although Angeley Crawford is Costa Rican, it wasn’t until she lived in a Dominican and Puerto Rican neighborhood that she decided she’d cut off the Latino section of her identity and identify as black. Check out her powerful declaration as to why she decided to do so.
A new teen series has dropped on Netflix that the internet can’t stop talking about. The newest cultural phenomenon that has hit the juggernaut streaming service is a musical series called Julie and the Phantoms, based on the 2011 Brazilian show of the same name.
The series follows a 16-year-old insecure girl named Julie who has lost her love of music after the tragic death of her mother. But with the help of a (stay with us here) band of musical ghosts she stumbles across in her garage, she soon re-discovers her love of singing and performing. Backed by her band of “phantoms”, Julie confidently takes the stage again, blowing everyone away in the process. ,
But the wacky, heartfelt story-line isn’t the only reason people are excited about the show. The buzz around the show is building because its star, 16-year-old newcomer Madison Reyes, is an Afro-Latina singer-actress of Puerto Rican descent.
Before landing the role of Julie, Reyes was just a regular shmegular Nuyorican girl going to high school in Brooklyn. Needless to say, the process of auditioning for Julie and the Phantoms was both a whirlwind and a game-changer.
“I found out about Julie and the Phantoms through my school. At first I was nervous to send my video in, but after talking to some friends, I sent it in and got a call back,” Reyes told Refinery 29. “From there it was just figuring out when I could fly to L.A. When I finally made it out there, the audition process lasted two days.”
Reyes, for one, understands the burden of her load. “[Julie] is Latin American, she’s got textured hair, she’s a strong and independent female character,” Reyes recently told the LA Times. “As a person of color who wants more diversity [on-screen], I’m kind of scared about the hate comments that I’ve seen other people have to go through, especially women.”
As if having an Afro-Latina actress at the center of a popular Netflix show wasn’t exciting enough, the series is also being helmed by Mexican-American director and all-around legend Kenny Ortega. For those of you unfamiliar with Ortega, he is the creative genius who directed bonafide classics like High School Musical and Hocus Pocus.
Ortega has been publicly effusive in his praise of Reyes. “She has this raw talent that can take on any genre of music, and this promise of greatness that excited everybody,” he told the LA Times. “And yet she’s so relatable and grounded.”
Fans are already calling for a second season after watching the cliffhanger season finale. Reyes, herself, can’t wait to get back in the shoes of Julie. When asked in an interview about where we’ll see her next, she responded: “Hopefully in the next season of Julie and the Phantoms!”. We second that wish.
As young Latinos, there’s no denying the fact that learning to fold our family culture into the customs we acquire as Americans can shape our abilities to handle pressure. In the process of assimilation, we learn how to meet the demands of our parents and our peers all the while juggling the everyday expectations we shoulder while in school.
Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez knows all about managing these expectations. Last year, while addressing the media’s desire to see her pursue her career and fulfill societal expectations of her personal life (AKA get married) the politician reminded her followers that she can handle pressure because she grew up in a Latino household.
To boot, she was the only daughter in her home.
But what about the rest of us?
Those of us who maybe aren’t quite yet thriving politicians but manage to succeed in our everyday lives and do it all? We asked Latinas on FIERCE about how they’re able to relate to AOC’s comments and the responses were not only enlightening but a good reminder of Latina strength.
“And the oldest for that matter!! You not only learn to be tough, but also to be resourceful and amazingly great at delegating.” – emramirez1
“So true ughh the oldest child the only female and the first American born and the first to go to college oyeeeee the PRESSURE #mujerfuerte AINT NO ONE CAN TAKE ME DOWN lol por que our familia made us strong!” –paulinacastrellon
“Only daughter and only child! Thats some other level of #latinohousehold.” –wellnessparalamama
“Or a daughter in a Latino household with a strict father period!” –elliev03
“Look i went through allot and none of it made me stronger im a very shaky person theres a difference between trauma and tough love , i think she had tough love trauama fucks u up.” –__head___in___the____clouds__
“Oldest daughter, of 3 girls! You are the example!” – _cynnrenee
“I only wish the means to becoming tough and handle pressure for a Latina daughter didn’t root in traumatic machismo (male chauvinism) and systematic inequalities experiences. Surely there are ways to learn to have an affirmative tone and handle pressure without the trauma.” – marimukkii
“Or just being in a Latina household, period.” –mar_knut