Things That Matter

Gina Torres, The Mother Queen, Says ‘Afro-Latinos don’t fit into a box, they fit into all the boxes’

When you think of Gina Torres, you probably think of an actress who has built a career playing the role of the kick-ass tough girl. From Jessica Pearson in “Suits” to Cas in “The Matrix Reloaded”, Torres has carved out a space for herself in a hyper-competitive, cutthroat industry. With over eighty-nine IMDB credits to her name stretching back to 1992, Torres has been in the game for a long time. And she’s not planning on stopping anytime soon. 

Torres’s next project is the highly-anticipated USA “Suits” spinoff “Pearson”, which follows her character Jessica Pearson as she makes the transition from heading up a New York-based law firm to entering the dirty world of Chicago politics. 

But although Torres is an industry veteran, you may not know that she has struggled with self-doubt and “imposter syndrome” throughout her career.

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That’s right–this woman who seems to ooze confidence and self-assurance is the same as you and me. In a new interview with Bustle, Torres got candid about the feelings of self-doubt and second-guessing that have plagued her throughout her 20-year career. But instead of letting her fears stop her, Torres instead chose to face them head-on. Case in point: she had no problem going to auditions for characters that weren’t necessarily supposed to look like her. 

“Very often I was in the room for a part that was not specifically written for anyone that looked like me,” she said, possibly referring both to her status as a black woman and as an Afro-Latina. But unlike other people who may have given up in the face of such constant rejection, Torres proved to her critics that she had as much a right to be there as any other actress. 

“You’re in the room for a reason,” Torres said. “And you can take your space and show everybody why you’re in that room. Every opportunity has to be taken”. 

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Unfortunately, ambition like Torres’s is generally hard to come by in women. Most women are routinely plagued by feelings of self-doubt and imposter syndrome like Torres is. One Hewlett Packard study found that men apply for a job or promotion when they meet only 60% of the qualifications, while women only apply if they meet 100% of the qualifications. In other words: women don’t even try to aim higher because they’re conditioned to believe they’re not good enough. Torres’s confidence in herself and her abilities it what sets her apart from the pack and makes her a great role model for working women everywhere. Her ambition is both singular, intense, and inspiring.

This confident attitude is exactly what has made Torres a stalwart in an industry that is notoriously shallow.

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Hollywood executives are notorious for filling a role based on what they think a character should look like–not based on the reality of what a character would actually look like given the circumstances. 

And Torres, as a Cuban-American Afro-Latina, knows better than anyone the pitfalls of Hollywood’s reliance on stereotyping. In the past, Torres has been honest about the struggles she’s faced trying to land roles as both a black woman and as an Afro-Latina: “When I became an actress, I quickly realized that the world liked their Latinas to look Italian and not like me,” she’s said. 

Torres has also talked about how Hollywood “likes everything in a little box”. 

“They have operated that way for many years,” she’s explained. “And what happens is that Afro-Latinos don’t fit into a box, they fit into all the boxes”. But Torres has come to a point in her career when she can finally create her own box. Credited as an Executive Producer on “Pearson”, Torres has reached a position of power where she no longer has to defer to an old white man to decide what type of character she gets to play. 

So, this time around, Gina Torres is intent on doing things her own way. First order of business? Fleshing-out Jessica Pearson’s personal background. “I was very specific about reinventing Jessica’s mythology and making sure, for the first time in my life, I would actually be playing an Afro-Latina character,” she said in an interview with Vibe

Indeed, in the second episode of the new season, Pearson is seen speaking Spanish to a non-suspecting Latina who thinks she can get away with speaking in front of her. Pearson surprises her by sassily responding in fluent Spanish. “In the past, it was never an issue for me because I wasn’t in a position of power, but now, in this instance, I was, and I got to say, ‘This is who she is and we are going to reintroduce her to the world as a proud Afro-Latina character’.” We’re confident that with Gina Torres, the best is yet to come.

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Lil Nas X’s Next Big Drop Is A Children’s Book Called ‘C Is For Country’

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Lil Nas X’s Next Big Drop Is A Children’s Book Called ‘C Is For Country’

Matt Winkelmeyer / Getty

Turns out Lil Nas X has more than just country rap up his sleeve. The 21-year-old “Old Town Road” rapper has a penchant for literature too.

On Tuesday, the rapper revealed that he’s written a children’s book called C Is for Country.

“I’m dropping the best kids’ book of all time soon!” the rapper shared in a Tweet earlier this week before adding that he couldn’t “wait to share it” with his fans and young readers.

Nas’s children’s book is being published under Random House Kids, a division of Penguin Random House. It is currently available for preorder on their site.

According to the Random House Kids’ website, the book is a story about Lil Nas X and Panini the pony.

“Join superstar Lil Nas X—who boasts the longest-running #1 song in history—and Panini the pony on a joyous journey through the alphabet from sunup to sundown. Experience wide-open pastures, farm animals, guitar music, cowboy hats, and all things country in this debut picture book that’s perfect for music lovers learning their ABCs and for anyone who loves Nas’s signature genre-blending style,” Random House describes in its explanation.

The book is illustrated by Theodore Taylor III and promises “plenty of hidden surprises for Nas’ biggest fans.”

C Is for County comes out Jan. 5.

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El Pollo Loco Creates Hispanic Heritage Month Grant To Support Latina Small Businesses

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El Pollo Loco Creates Hispanic Heritage Month Grant To Support Latina Small Businesses

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Covid-19 has devastated millions of Americans with job loss. Unemployment skyrocketed as the federal government failed to create and execute a plan to combat the pandemic. El Pollo Loco is stepping up and giving our community a chance to keep business doors open and community members employed.

El Pollo Loco is giving Latina business owners in the greater Los Angeles area a lifeline in these uncertain times.

The Latino community is the fastest-growing group of entrepreneurs and business owners in the U.S. According to a Stanford University study, Latino business owners grew 34 percent while every other demographic grew 1 percent over the last ten years.

However, Covid has changed things. Latina-owned business are some of the hardest hit and the sudden loss is impacting our community. According to the Pew Research Center, Latinas experienced a -21 percent change in small business ownership and jobs since the Covid downturn.

El Pollo Loco is offering $100,000 in grants to different Latina-owned businesses because of the pandemic.

The fast food chain has started a GoFundMe to keep the donations going. El Pollo Loco has already pledged $100,000 to help Latina small businesses and the GoFundMe promises to keep the donations flowing. For every $10,000 raised in the GoFundMe, El Pollo Loco will donate it to a Latina small business. The GoFundMe has raised over $100,000 at the time of this post.

#WeAllGrow Latina partnered with El Pollo Loco to give Latina business owners this lifeline.

#WeAllGrow Latina and El Pollo Loco are asking the Latino community to help find Latina small businesses that deserve the grants. Instead of making the decision themselves, #WeAllGrow Latina and El Pollo Loco want you to nominate your favorite Latina small business for the grant.

“This year has been unlike any other, leaving Latina-owned businesses disproportionately impacted,” Bernard Acoca, President and Chief Executive Officer of El Pollo Loco, said in a statement. “Given the critical role brands are expected to play during the pandemic and on the heels of Hispanic Heritage Month, we felt compelled to find a way to support the people and city we call home.”

In order to nominate a business, here is what you have to do.

Credit: weallgrowlatina.com/fundlatinafoodjefas

Using social media, nominate your favorite LA-based Latina small business and tag @elpolloloco and @weallgrowlatina while using #grantcontest and #FundLatinaFoodJefas. You can nominate the business up to five times.

People are already nominating their favorite food places in LA.

You have until Sept. 15 to nominate your favorite Latina small business. You can help them win $10,000 and mentorship from El Pollo Loco to help Latina business owners in LA keep their doors open. You can learn more here.

READ: California Is Poised To Become The First State To Offer Unemployment To Undocumented Workers

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