America Ferrera Unites Star-Studded Immigrant Voices in “American Like Me”
Jun 25, 2018
When 45 started his presidency, it was a low point for America Ferrera.
"As a woman, as a Latina, as the daughter of immigrants, as an American, [the 2016 election] did feel like, in a lot of ways, a death," America Ferrera told MAKERS in a candid interview. "A death of an idea that I had built my American identity around."
But the Superstore star is not one to throw up her hands in defeat. Instead, she's lifting up a chorus of voices in defiance.
"It just made me realize that there was work to do. We couldn't sit on the sidelines and cry and feel sad, while there were people who had been working for decades and for generations to address these issues," says Ferrera, who announced that she has edited and curated an anthology of essays called "American Like Me: Reflections on Life Between Cultures," to remind our nation of exactly who we are—a country made up of and built by immigrants.
"I have always felt wholly American, and yet, my identity is inextricably linked to my parents' homeland and Honduran culture," explained the actress turned activist in a statement to Entertainment Weekly on the essay collection.
"I have yearned my whole life to see my complex cultural identity reflected in the larger American narrative. I am proud to share these personal stories that honor and reflect the experiences of so many Americans."
The collection of essays captures a vast range of experiences within the hyphenated American identity of those who struggled "to establish a sense of self, find belonging, and feel seen." The star-studded list of contributors includes Michelle Kwan, Kumail Nanjiani, Roxanne Gay, Liza Koshy, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and more.
All the writers are "immigrants, children or grandchildren of immigrants, indigenous people, or people who otherwise grew up with deep and personal connections to more than one culture." Ferrera even shares her own personal experience of growing up in Los Angeles, torn between her immigrant parents' Honduran culture and the American one she was born into.
However, the book (on shelves Sept. 25) will do more than just put the immigrant narrative at the forefront— a portion of the proceeds from "American Like Me," will go to the Immigrants We Get the Job Done Coalition, a group of 12 non-profit organizations that advocate and help immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers in the United States.
The timely anthology is yet another move by Ferrera to give voice to those typically "underrepresented" and "ignored" in America. Ferrera has spoken out against gender discrimination at the 2017 Women's March on Washington and she joined MAKERS such as Michelle Kydd Lee, Tina Tchen, Jill Soloway, and Ava DuVernay, as a founding member of Time's Up, which strives to address systemic inequality and injustice in the workplace that has kept underrepresented groups from reaching their full potential.