Jeimy Osorio says playing the late Queen of Salsa Celia Cruz in the 2015-2016 Telemundo series Celia! was an emotional journey filled with life lessons. “When I played this character, I had no idea how much impact it would have and how far it would reach,” the Puerto Rican actress and singer tells PEOPLE CHICA. With her role as the iconic Cuban singer, Osorio became the first Afro-Latina lead in a Spanish-language prime-time series .
“I was Celia 24 hours a day every day for nine months. When I stopped playing her, I had to rediscover who Jeimy was,” the 29-year-old says of the series that launched her to international stardom. “Playing Celia’s character was a deep spiritual process for me. I realized we have many things in common. Our mission in life is to make people smile and help them overcome pain through joy and music.”
The stunning beauty, who has graced magazines covers, claims being multicultural has been a blessing rather than a disadvantage. Her Afro hair and ebony skin have been embraced by casting directors and producers throughout her entertainment career. “It has been the greatest advantage. I’ve never had issues with my hair or having a TV producer tell me that I’m too dark-skinned or light-skinned or too Latina for a role,” she says. “I can’t say I feel more pressure or feel stereotyped because when they see something special in you that they like, they don’t care about your nationality. I’m getting great reactions from casting directors.”
Osorio represents the idea that self-love and confidence go a long way. The actress — now in Los Angeles for pilot season auditioning for English-language series and movies — has not felt discriminated against. “I haven’t felt that or maybe I haven’t taken it personally,” she admits. “When I started out doing theater and commercials, I always accepted myself with my curly hair, with my Afro. I never saw it as something that would hold me back, to the contrary.” Her self-esteem had a lot to do with that. “The fact that I carried myself so naturally perhaps helped. No producer ever told me I had to straighten my hair…. I said: ‘This is who I am and on top of that, I have curly hair and I’m black.'”
Osorio is now working on her first album, but says there is no rush in setting a release date. Her debut production will have a world-music flavor and be filled with African influences. “I’m putting all my love into it,” she says. “My signature sound will be Afro-Caribbean music because it’s the closest to me, to my roots. It’s the music that gets into my body and soul. It will include rumba, guaguancó, bomba and African percussion, fused with other instruments from around the world.”
Osorio’s pride in her heritage and deep reverence for African history and resilience is palpable. “I love knowing I come from a Mother culture, from the African culture, which has created so much and has had so much impact on world culture, influencing music, food, vocabulary, fashion. We have to feel proud that even though our race was enslaved and violated, it still gives its best and keeps shining and contributing.”
To other young Afro-Latinas striving to leave their mark, she offers these words of advice: “Don’t worry so much about what others think. Focus on getting your message across and reflecting your inner beauty on the outside. That’s the most important thing whether you have curly hair or not. Never doubt your dreams and your mission in life.”