Emmys: America Ferrera Recalls Being Told to 'Sound More Latina' During First Audition at Age 16
"I am Latina and this is what I sound like," America Ferrera remembered thinking
America Ferrera is opening up about her "very first audition" — during which she was told to "sound more Latina."
Ferrera, 36, shared her story during a pre-recorded segment of the 72nd Emmy Awards on Sunday, revealing that she was just 16 years old at the time of the audition.
"I was this little, brown, chubby, valley girl, who spoke like a valley girl," Ferrera explained. "I walked in, did my audition [and] the casting director looked at me and she was like: 'That's great. Can you do that again, but this time sound more Latina?' "
Confused, Ferrera said she asked the casting director: "Um, so do you want me to do this in Spanish?"
"And she was like, 'No no no ... do it in English, but just, you know, sound more Latina,' " Ferrera said she was told, adding that she quipped back: "I am Latina and this is what I sound like."
" 'Okay, sweetie. Thank you. Bye,' " Ferrera said the casting director told her.
When Ferrera went home to tell her family, she said they weren't shocked by what happened.
" 'They wanted you to speak in broken English. They wanted you to sound like a chola,' " Ferrera said her family explained.
" 'What did you think was going to happen? They were going to have you starring in the next role meant for Julia Roberts?' And I was like, 'Yeah.' That is what I thought," said the actress.
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"That realization for me has fueled me to create more opportunity for little brown girls to fulfill their talent and their dream," Ferrera added.
During this year's Emmy Awards, there was only one Latinx or Hispanic nominee in the major categories: Ferrera's Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants costar Alexis Bledel, who was up for outstanding guest actress in a drama series for The Handmaid's Tale.
Ferrera has gone on to land a number of beloved TV and film roles. The star won an Emmy in 2007 for outstanding lead actress in a comedy series for Ugly Betty and was nominated for the same award in 2008.
The 72nd Emmy Awards, hosted by Jimmy Kimmel, aired live on ABC.