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Latino stereotypes attacked in ‘Yo Soy Latina’ production

» By Linda Sapp

–lsapp@my.apsu.edu

Janay Neal | Photographer

According to Daisy Torres, Coordinator of the Hispanic Cultural Center, the play “Yo Soy Latina,” was only one part of this month’s diversity series.

Both Cultural Heritage month and “Yo Soy Latina” strive to offer different perspectives of what it means to be Latino.

Torres highlighted the fact that APSU’s Hispanic Cultural Center, founded in 2005, is still the only one of its kind in Tennessee. “It is where strangers become friends and friends become family,” Torres said.

“Yo Soy Latina” featured three paid actresses who, through presenting six monologues, gave a detailed history of the life of a director, Linda Nieves-Powell, as a Latino in America.

One line summed up the play’s message: “Finding identity was like climbing an oil-slick pole.”

The play offered an inside perspective of Nieves-Powell’s fear of networking in the theatre business.

It was only when she placed a poem on the Internet that she found support and appreciation from people all over the world.  At one point, she told another director, “This is my body and my face — take it or leave it.”

The play attacked common stereotypes given to Latinos, such as the belief Latinos are “all the same.” This point was quickly introduced and dispelled through monologues, and “Yo Soy Latina” painted a picture of Latinos as well-educated, family-oriented and sharing the same dreams as other Americans.

The concept of “double identity” was explored through dialogue, described as “caught between two worlds.”

As the play went on, it addressed Latinos’ experiences with marrying outside of their own race.  The terms “Afro-Cuban,” “Irish-Cuban” and “African-American Indian” were examined in relation to the Latino family values.

After the play, there was a question and answer opportunity where actress Yanelba Ferreira answered a question about her vision of her future in theatre.

“I see myself getting an Oscar in the film industry,” she said.

Flor Bromley, another actress from the production, is already living out her dream of helping children become bilingual.  She recently received a callback for another audition on Sesame Street.

The third actress, Elizabeth Ann South, pictured herself living a life acting in “whatever may come her way — whatever that may be.”

In addition to students from MTSU and TSU, two members of the audience were the parents of actress South.

South’s mother spoke of her daughter’s family roots as Irish-Cuban. The family, who spoke primarily English, encouraged her to learn Spanish and to appreciate her Latino heritage.

South’s mother, who revealed the family had driven from Indianapolis to watch the play, summarized the most important values to Latino families.

“It’s important to get an education, and to have good relationships,” she said.

She plans to write a book about Latino culture and its diversity.

The Hispanic Cultural Center offers events all year, but Hispanic Heritage month occurs between Saturday, Sept. 15 and Monday, Oct. 15.

The coordinator encourages all APSU students to take part in the many events planned throughout the year.

About Linda Sapp, Staff Writer

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