Fuse is celebrating Women's History Month by looking at a variety of rising forces who are creating Future Women's History before our eyes. Today we're taking a look at how American-Honduran actress America Ferrara is making waves with her natural charm onscreen and her ferocious activism offscreen.
Ferrera's first big break came with 2002's Disney original movie Gotta Kick It Up!, but she became even more prominent for starring as Carmen in 2005's The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. In 2006 she landed the lead role of Betty Suarez in Ugly Betty, which firmly cemented her as a household name. The ABC comedy-drama landed Ferrera a Primetime Emmy—the first for a Latina in the category— a Golden Globe, a SAG Award and an NACP Image Award, among others. She currently co-produces and stars in NBC's Superstore and has since 2005.
Somehow, between acting, producing and going to school for international relations, Ferrera has found time to become a fierce political activist. In 2012, Ferrera pledged for support for the re-election of Barack Obama and became a vocal supporter of immigration reform, telling Politico, "My personal belief is that passing immigration reform is the Civil Rights Movement of our time." She's also heavily involved with Voto Latino, an organization that encourages young Latin citizens to vote.
Speaking at the 2016 Democratic National Convention in fervent support of Hillary Clinton, Ferrera called out Donald Trump's racist remarks about Hispanic immigrants: "According to Donald Trump, I'm probably a rapist." When Lena Dunham replies that Ferrera isn't Mexican, she quips: "That doesn't stop Donald." She continued:
"We know that the truth is that this country was founded on the belief that what sets us apart—race, language, religion, sexual orientation—should not dissolve what binds us. I am the proud child of Honduran immigrants. I am profoundly grateful for the opportunity and access that exists in this extraordinary nation. I was educated in public schools ... not everybody looks at the millions of young people like me—children born into struggling families, children born to immigrant, children who are immigrants themselves—not everybody looks at them and sees an investment."
After it was announced that Donald Trump won the presidency in November, Ferrera refused to give up; She's still fighting on the front lines for women, immigrants and those without a voice. In January, she gave a moving, commanding speech to open the Women's March on Washington. In it, she emphasized the values that the U.S. was built on, condemning the platform of hate, fear and xenophobia that lead the Republican campaign in the presidential race. Addressing the crowd of thousands with her booming voice, she address Trump directly:
"We refuse. We reject the demonization of our Muslim brothers and sisters. We demand an end to the systemic murder and incarceration of our black brothers and sisters. We will not give up our right to safe and legal abortions. We will not ask our LGBTQ families to go backwards. We will not go from being a nation of immigrants to a nation of ignorance. We won't build walls and we won't see the worst in each other. And we will not turn out backs on the more than 750,000 young immigrants in this country currently protected by DACA."
This isn't the last you'll hear of Ferrera, whose Twitter timeline is filled with activism and inspiration. Even on Superstore, where she's made her directorial debut, she advocates for storylines that portray immigration, diversity and feminism. Putting those tough topics in the form of a half-hour comedy on broadcast cable, we think her message will be heard loud and clear.