Actress and activist Diane Guerrero talks about mental health, family and her career at a Kennedy Political Union event

In honor of National Immigrants Day, the Kennedy Political Union and the American University Residence Association held a discussion with actress Diane Guerrero on October 28.

Under the supervision of Kelly Ma, RHA’s Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion, Guerrero spoke about her experience as a first-generation Latina actress and how her experience shaped her career, passion for immigration reform, and self-confidence.

“I am who I am, and I can’t be anything else,” she said. “I think who I am and my story really influences all of my work, but it changes.”

Guerrero, known for her roles as Maritza Ramos in “Orange is the New Black” and Lina in “Jane the Virgin,” expressed how important it was for her to speak out for who she is early in her career, but no longer feels it is necessary to be on the cutting edge. her job.

“I think I’m just trying to live my life and not have that be the central focus, but just an effect,” she said. “I [want to] She tells all kinds of stories, not just stories about family separation and immigration.”

Guerrero has to speak To support immigration reform, having suffered the consequences of the system herself. When Guerrero was a child, she came home from school one day to find her house empty, Her family has been deported to Colombia on the way.

She shared the story of her family’s deportation in her books”In the country we love“Adaptation of Youth”My family is dividedWhich affected her work in the field of advocacy and exchange of experiences. However, Guerrero said the immigration system has left her continually disappointed despite her efforts.

“It’s all work because I thought I could get closer to my family,” she said. “Over and over again, none of that worked.”

She said the different ways of telling stories are what happens next, and Guerrero plans to be behind the camera, not in front of her — she’s already planning to make a documentary about her family in Colombia.

In particular, Guerrero spoke about her desire to tell different stories to advance her career, specifically about her family. Hollywood, too, has confined it to a certain kind of story. Guerrero said she was often cross-dressed, playing characters whose main traits include their immigrant status.

“I had to break down a lot of these stereotypes myself, to say, ‘I can do this role, and this role has nothing to do with my heritage or my ancestry or anything else,’ it’s just a person,” he said. “I had to tear down a lot of that myself because those walls are already there.”

Guerrero hopes her work will evolve from 2016 – when she published “In the Country We Love” – ​​to be more honest and unabashedly. She has reached the impatient point of her life when she no longer feels the need to compare herself to other people, as a result of her desire to be closer to her family in Colombia and years of therapy.

“It’s a process; treatment is important, wellness is important, self-care is important, you just have to find what works for you, but it definitely has to be your first priority, otherwise everything else kind of falls apart,” Guerrero said.

In an interview with The Eagle, Guerrero said the most important thing she’s learned in therapy is “patience.”

“I think we get caught up in needing to catch up…catch up with whom? Everything should be at your own pace, in your own time, and you know that the universe is working with you, not against you.”

With therapy, Guerrero also learned important aspects of self-care that helped her learn more about herself as a person. Instead of focusing so intensely on her career and getting jobs, she said she’s learned to appreciate spending time with family — after her father passed away this year, she found herself regretting not taking more time to visit.

During the conversation, Latino students from the audience expressed their gratitude and support for Guerrero, thanking her for sharing her story on and off screen.

One student said, “You remind me that what I went through is true.” Another, whose family is also from Colombia, said: “We need people like you back home.”

During the conversation, Guerrero touched on the topics of the house. While she still plans to work in the US, she is looking to buy a property in Colombia, where she will spend more time with her family and possibly start one of her own.

She also spoke about the advice she’d give her younger self: “I’m going to tell myself I don’t have to be like everyone else,” she said. “What sets you apart is that you are not like everyone else.”

The advice she gave to people in similar situations: You belong everywhere, even when people tell you you don’t belong.

“You’re here to be your best self and to do your best, and that’s all that matters,” Guerrero said.

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