America Ferrera was told to "sound more Latina" during her "very first audition"
The 36-year-old actress - who didn't reveal the role, project or other people involved - has recalled her experience 20 years ago, and how she responded to the incident
23 September 2020
Speaking during a pre-recorded segment at the Emmy Awards on Sunday night (20.09.20), she said: "I was this little, brown, chubby, valley girl, who spoke like a valley girl.
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"I walked in, did my audition [and] the casting director looked at me and she was like, 'That's great. Can you do that again, but this time sound more Latina?'
"'Um, so do you want me to do this in Spanish?' And she was like, 'No, no, no, do it in English, but just, you know, sound more Latina.' 'I am Latina and this is what I sound like.' 'OK sweetie. Thank you. Bye.' "
America went home to tell her family what had happened, and she admitted they weren't surprised by the reaction.
Revealing their response she added: "'They wanted you to speak in broken English. They wanted you to sound like a chola. What did you think was going to happen? They were going to have you starring in the next role meant for Julia Roberts?'
"And I was like, 'Yeah.' That is what I thought. That realisation for me has fueled me to create more opportunity for little brown girls to fulfil their talent and their dream."
America became the first Latina to win a Lead Actress prize at the ceremony when she took home the Lead Actress in a Comedy Series statuette for her work on 'Ugly Betty' in 2007 but she spent her whole time on stage convinced no one in the room felt she "deserved" the honour.
She previously admitted: "When I won the Emmy, I can't bring myself to watch that because the only thing I remember about being on that stage, accepting that Emmy, was the feeling that no one in the room thought I deserved it. And that's a shame.
"[I was thinking] 'She doesn't really deserve that. What is she really doing in that role? That role is not interesting enough, it's not dark enough, it's not edgy enough.' You know, all of the bullsh***.
"Which doesn't enter your mind on its own. There were people in my life perpetuating those narratives and making me feel like I hadn't earned this moment. When I look back at that time, my heart aches for that 22-year-old girl, who didn't get to really enjoy those moments."