We're celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month with Future Hispanic History Month, highlighting rising stars who are creating history before our very eyes. Today we honor Dascha Polanco, the 33-year-old Orange Is the New Black actress who shines bright among one of the best casts on television.
Born in the Dominican Republic and raised in Brooklyn and Miami, Polanco attended Hunter College to receive a bachelor's degree in psychology before diving all the way into acting. Now the mother of three has done movies by Tom McCarthy (The Cobbler, starring Adam Sandler) and David O. Russell (Joy, as Jennifer Lawrence's BFF) and been part of Orange Is the New Black's two Screen Actors Guild Awards for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series.
"It's disappointing, but I try to work with up-and-coming designers who will make things for me and who will collaborate with me. People who love my curves and embrace them as much as I do. ... Even though I'm a size 8 or 10, I still can look as great as someone who's a size 0. This is why I work out; I'm making sure my body looks how I want it to look, so that I'm confident enough to wear a transparent cat suit, or show skin. ... Every day, women have to boost themselves up. You have to look at yourself in the mirror and say, 'I am fabulous, I am beautiful, I am me, and I am my own best competition.' ... Now that I've gotten older, I realize that life is short—I'm building that confidence, and doing things as far as fashion that I've never done before."
Of the dope outfit you see below, worn in September at New York Fashion Week, Polanco told Vanity Fair her stylist encouraged her to "wear a bodysuit and just show my thighs, since I’m so self-conscious about them. But fuck it, this is me, this is who I am, this is real. I was made this way. There’s people that are paying for this.”
Dascha Polanco also makes a point to embrace the multitudes of her identity. "I have every culture, I have ancestry from every part of the world, and I'm so proud that we can combine that into being a Latina woman," she told Latina magazine in 2014. Earlier this year, she schooled Power 105.1 DJ Charlamagne Tha God about the intersection of Dominican and black heritages. “I consider myself an Afro-Latina. We’re very black. ... I consider myself to be a black woman. And I think a lot of Dominicans should, because from what I see, that’s what we are.”