An Evening with America Ferrera at Live Talks LA

An evening with America Ferrera

I have always been fascinated with cultures from different countries. Culture is a  beautiful thing- it makes us unique, different, interesting and is definitely a gift. Being a Filipino living in the United States, I’ve always embraced my own culture and the American culture. The first time I came to America was in 1979 during my school summer break in the Philippines. I was about 11 years old. I went back home after two months. The second time in 1981, my mom and I decided to stay here a little longer. It was a little different for America Ferrera when she was born and raised here.

America Ferrera reads intro of her book

America Ferrera reads intro of her book

When I heard that one of my favorite actresses America Ferrera was launching a new book about life between cultures, I had no second thoughts but to see her. Like Ms. Ferrera, I embraced my own identity confident with my own skin, gender, etc. In my past careers, I was the only Filipino at work, the only female in my department, the only brown girl in a social gathering but that didn’t faze me and I kept reaching for my goals.

America Ferrera in conversation with actress comedian Anjelah Johnson

America Ferrera in conversation with actress comedian Anjelah Johnson

American Like Me – Reflections on Life Between Cultures” by America Ferrera is a narrative where she invited 31 of her friends and heroes to share their stories about life with two cultures living in the US. Some of them we know are actors and public figures like the Oscar nominated Kumain Nanjiani from Pakistan, figure skater Michelle Kwan from Hong Kong, Bravo’s Top Chef producer Padma Lakshmi from India, Tony awardee and creator of Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda from Puerto Rico, Filipino American transgender supermodel and founder of Gender Proud Geena Rocero.

America answers a question from the audience

America answers a question from the audience

I learned about the book and more about America at the talk “America Ferrera in conversation with Anjelah Johnson-Reyes” It took place at Ann and Jerry Moss Theatre New Roads School in Santa Monica, CA. Anjelah Johnson is also one of the story tellers in American Like Me and is a comedian and actress most known for her role as Bon Qui Qui from MADtv. The event was hosted by Live Talks LA, a series of on-stage conversations with writers, scientists, actors, musicians and thought leaders in business.

Ferrera dressed in a red sweater with American Like Me printed on it. This was paired with black jeggings and white tennis shoes. She entered the stage with comedian Anjelah Johnson-Reyes. As she appeared on stage and sat, she started reciting the introduction of the book, “My name is America, and at nine years old, I hate my name. Not because I hate my country. No! In fact, at nine years old I love my country!” She finished the introduction and started the conversation with the question how did the idea come up to create this book? America explained that right from the beginning she was connected with a book agent for ten years. She had never written a book and she wasn’t ready to write her autobiography and didn’t know what she would really write. So after the election, her agent suggested this was the right time to write about her perspective on the immigration experience, maybe a collection of essays? She felt something wasn’t clicking, this was not her experience. “I am not an immigrant in this country. I am an American. I was born and raised in America. I always thought I was hundred percent American. And always felt deeply tied to my family culture and at the same time felt like I never got to be either one of those things. And that is the experience I’ve never seen reflected back at me in my culture growing up and that one immediately fired in me.” She added that from the beginning it’s not always her story.”We’re not alone in this experience”. It’s not just the Latino experience…it’s Chinese American, Muslim American, or African American. That is why this is the reason why she invited her friends and her heroes whether their parent/grandparents came from India or Nigeria. “It was always about identifying ourselves as a community as a group of people who exist in the world…and not as outsiders….not as foreigners but as part of this American fabric and that’s how the idea for the book really came into focus for me.”

To see the whole conversation go to Live Talks LA.

America getting ready for book signing

America getting ready for book signing

Ruchel Freibrun popbuff blogger with America Ferrera

Yours truly with America Ferrera

America Ferrera engages with fans

America Ferrera engages with fans

 

Fans line up to have their books signed

Fans line up to have their books signed

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