In a candid interview with Glamour, America Ferrera, a renowned movie and TV actor, shared her journey from childhood dreams to becoming a force for change. Recognized as Glamour’s Global Woman of the Year, Ferrera’s drive for activism was deeply rooted in her early life.
Ferrera began by recalling her five-year-old self telling her mother about her aspirations of becoming both an actress and a human rights lawyer. She remarked, “I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to fight injustice to incite change in this world.” As her acting career took off, Ferrera found ways to merge her two passions, using storytelling as a powerful medium for social impact.
The actor opened up about her childhood struggles, emphasizing the deep-seated inequality she witnessed. Growing up with five siblings and a hard-working single mother, they frequently moved between two-bedroom apartments. An incident in fifth grade, where she lost meal assistance, highlighted the palpable discrepancies in resources available to families. “Adults didn’t see my unmet need, or they did and chose to look the other way,” she recalled, highlighting her early inspiration to make a difference.
On discussing her career’s onset at 17, Ferrera credited her mother’s unwavering belief, which made her feel she could challenge the status quo despite societal prejudices. This belief took her to the University of Southern California to study international relations alongside her acting. She candidly shared moments of doubt, wondering if acting was a “selfish dream.” However, a significant turning point was a conversation with a professor, which reaffirmed her belief in the power of storytelling.
Ferrera’s passion for advocacy became evident when she recounted her active involvement in political campaigns, especially her support for Hillary Clinton in 2008. Through her campaigning efforts, she realized the influence of Latina women in households and societies, urging for more resources and opportunities for them.
In 2017, Ferrera spoke at the Women’s March in Washington, D.C., emphasizing the protection of women’s and immigrants’ rights. That same year, she co-founded Harness, a nonprofit focused on fostering community among artists, activists, and other influencers to advocate for justice and equality. “I realized I helped build the kind of organizations I wish I’d had when I was a young artist looking to use my platform for change,” she expressed.
Ferrera’s commitment didn’t wane with the birth of her children. Becoming a parent added another layer to her understanding of workplace imbalances, particularly for working mothers. She highlighted the imperative for cultural and policy changes, pointing to the recent addition of a parental paid leave policy by the Directors Guild of America as a victory. “Community is power,” Ferrera emphasized, crediting the collective effort of women in Hollywood for the progress.