America Ferrera Gets Honest About Her Industry ‘Wish’ And How A Lunch Meeting With Gina Rodriguez Set Her Down A Brand New Hollywood Path

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Written By Maya Cantina

America Ferrera seems like she is in the midst of a career renaissance. With Barbie and the critical hit Dumb Money coming out just this year, the actress has been giving stand-out performances left and right. Ferrera has steadily been acting for years, starring in shows like Ugly Betty and Superstore. However, this new turn for the actress feels different, and now she’s opening up about how she has different expectations for the roles she takes, as well as how Gina Rodriguez influenced her perspective. 

In a recent interview with Elle, Ferrera got candid about navigating Hollywood as a Latina woman and how this has influenced the kinds of roles she has been offered. She is trying to change that, hoping that more women of color are offered less stereotypical roles and aren’t typecast as characters specifically tailored to their race or ethnicity. She explained her perspective by saying:

What I continue to wish for my career, and women’s careers and people of color’s careers, is that we don’t have to exist inside of these boxes or these lanes—that we don’t have to be relegated to represent just the thing that the culture wants us to represent. I want to be more of who I am as a person, and to get to make art that doesn’t fit into any of the boxes and isn’t about the dominant conversation people have wanted to have about me because I’m a woman who doesn’t fit into stereotypical Hollywood.

Hollywood has a lot of work to do, and stereotyping remains a problem within the casting process. However, Ferrera’s efforts to take complex and layered roles as an actress have certainly paid off this year. Her most recent roles pivot away from stereotypes, instead highlighting other key character traits. In Barbie, for example, she plays a mother desperate to connect with her daughter as their relationship becomes fractured during the teenage years. She emerges as the true heroine of the story, giving an incredible and memorable monologue about womanhood and societal expectations. 

These roles haven’t always been abundant however, and Ferrera has found that casting Latina women has often been few and far between. The actress discussed often feeling isolated during the filmmaking process, and how she has often been the only Latina on many sets, even when Ferrera has stepped behind the camera. She felt like she had to take matters into her own hands, saying: 

As a Latina in Hollywood, I always felt like the only one of my kind in the room. I was the only one in the cast, or the only female Latina producer on any given thing I was doing, and I felt further isolated and on my own. And those were barriers that we just had to decide to start breaking down.

For Ferrera, one element of breaking down these barriers was uplifting other Latina women in Hollywood. She came to this realization during a lunch with Gina Rodriguez, where they realized their commonalities is what made them a united force, rather than competition. She detailed: 

At a certain point, Gina Rodriguez and I had lunch, and I thought, ‘Why don’t we do this more?’ I think part of coming up in this industry is you’re taught that everyone’s your competition, and that there’s so little for the taking, and you are in competition with everyone for those crumbs. One good role came up every five years, and everyone was up for it. And it was like, ‘Why are we over here fighting over stuff that’s not even good?’ What if we came together and made stuff we loved and got to work with each other?’

I love that these women see themselves as supporters of each other rather than competition. She is right to say that great roles for Latina women have been few and far between over the years, and it makes sense that these successful women could feel like they were pitted against each other. Luckily, they are able to see beyond this and have worked to uplift each other rather than try to take each other down. They have both portrayed iconic Latina characters like Jane the Virgin and Ugly Betty, breaking barriers and encouraging more storylines with Latino/Latina culture at the center. Both are powerful individually, but are stronger together. I hope that we see both of these superstars on screen alongside each other soon. 

You can catch America Ferrera in Barbie, which will be available to stream for Max subscribers on December 15th. Fans of the actress can also see her in Dumb Money, which you can rent now on Amazon. You can additionally check out Gina Rodriguez in her latest sitcom Not Dead Yet, which is currently streaming with a Hulu subscription, and will start airing its second season next year. 

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