I never really knew who actress Francia Raisa was before I learned she was Selena Gomez’s BFF. The one who donated her kidney to keep her good friend alive. I’ve been intrigued by her ever since and have made a point to read and follow everything she does, because aside from being a really good human, Raisa is also a very proud Latina who refuses to give into what society or Hollywood wants her to be. In a recent interview with Bustle, Raisa opens up about how challenging the status quo has actually helped in her career and how breaking the rules is sometimes a good thing.
Raisa admits that once upon a time she did try to adapt to others’ expectations of who she should be because she thought it was the only way to make it in life and in the entertainment industry. But she quickly realized that it wasn’t really getting her where she wanted to be. Once she shifted her mindset, things started to quickly change for her. She’s not only landing roles alongside some of Hollywoods best actresses but she’s also making it a point to “redefine the way Latinx women are portrayed on screen.”
“Pursing this career in general, it’s really tough, and there are things that people told me not to do. For example, I was told one time that I should pronounce my name more Americanized. There were things that people told me to do that, for a second, I was like, I’m not comfortable, but I went off what they told me. Because I was just so desperate to make it, I was willing to do anything,” she said. “Then at one point, I said no, I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to wear tight, short dresses. I don’t want to pronounce my name this way, because it is pronounced with an accent. Because I am Latina, and I’m very proud of it. And I don’t want to make myself seem more white just because that’s what’s more acceptable in society.”
Amen to that!
Raisa takes this philosophy with her even in her personal life. She’s had folks make assumptions about the kind of man she should date and she’s immediately shut that down too.
“Right now, I have a boyfriend, he’s Black. And people are like, why aren’t you dating another Mexican? Or another Latino guy? So I guess, in that case, I’m a rule breaker,” she says. Raisa also admits that living life by her owns rules has not only drastically changed her life—but it’s made it that much better. By meeting her own standards she’s crafted a life for herself that’s rich and fulfilling, proving to women—WOC especially—that we don’t need to try to fit European standards to succeed. We can just be us.
“I’m the happiest I’ve ever been in my life. There were so many people that told me I couldn’t do something, or I should do this, because I’m that. And by “that,” I mean Latina,” she says. ‘“You are Latina, so you need to dress a little more provocatively.’ ‘You need to figure out a Mexican accent. ‘You can’t do this because you’re a woman. ‘You can’t do that, because you’re whatever. And I’m like, what?”
Raisa has definitely been redefining not just how Hollywood perceives Latinas, but society in general. My showing up and being true to herself she’s proving to the world that we don’t need to be provocative, we don’t need to exaggerate our accents, and we don’t need to “white-wash” ourselves in order to get what we want. If we stay true to who we are, we’ll do just fine—even if it takes a little longer for the rest of the world to catch up with us.