Create & Cultivate 100: Entertainment: Diane Guerrero

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Diane Guerrero has traded in her orange jumpsuit (of Netflix’s Orange is the New Black fame) for superpowers, podcast mics, and authorship. She’ll star as Crazy Jane in DC Comics’ new series Doom Patrol, premiering next month on DC Universe; hosts a podcast, How It Is, with Reese Witherspoon; and she’s just adapted her book In The Country We Love into a YA book. Below, she shares the story behind her book and what she’d do if she were president.

On when she knew she wanted to be an actor…

Well, for me I think that I’ve always had the bug. I’ve always fantasized about being on stage or on TV or singing or presenting. As a kid, we couldn’t really afford acting classes or at least steady classes so I would just take advantage of anything that was free or in the neighborhood or anything they offered after school. That was kind of my escape. I don’t think I ever realized that it was a possibility for me. I don’t think that anyone said, “You can really do this” or even myself I don’t think I believed in myself enough to say, “This is my path. This is what I want to do.”

On My Family Divided, her YA adaptation of her the story of her parents’ deportation...

This is an issue that affects the entire family, and that means children most of all. This was an issue that was always discussed in our home, a fear that we had. And that fear didn’t just start when it happened, when my parents were separated from me when I was 14, but when I was a kid. It would’ve been really helpful to have had resources and stories like my own when I was growing up—and that’s why it was so important for me to adapt the book for young readers. The new book is the same story, but it has a few more footnotes. It also has a synopsis at the beginning of every chapter. Really, the book is written in a very young voice. I already know young students who have read the [adult] book and teachers who have used the book in their classes. Now it will be easier for middle schoolers to read the story on their own.

On activism through her work...

My job as an actor is to be visible and to tell stories. I know I have a platform and a responsibility. I am representing my community, in a sense, especially given the fact that there are not as many Latino actors out there. I consider it as a way to represent a group that is underrepresented and often misrepresented. I’ve taken it upon myself to be out there fighting to represent my community in the best light possible. I hope to continue to portray characters with interesting stories, who are fighters and go-getters, who overcome challenges and are essentially superheroes in their community. That’s the kind of message I want to send out. I’m also telling stories about the American experience; brown, black, white, we’re all living that.

On what she’d do if she were president...

I would update the visa system, and I would have members in Congress who care about this issue and who want to make changes now and not people who are going to insult us and not people who are going to ignore us. Those are some of the moves I would make. I’m not a policy expert of course, but I think that from the knowledge that I do have, I would say that the visa system needs updating and then we can go from there.

This interview has been edited and condensed from multiple sources (1, 2, 3).

Photos from Diane Guerrero’s Instagram.