Actress, author and activist speaks at UTRGV’s Distinguished Speaker Series
By Bryan Ramos
ctress, author, and activist Diane Guerrero visited the border town of Brownsville yesterday to share her story of success and struggle with the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley as part of its annual Distinguished Speaker Series.
Widely known for her roles on Orange is the New Black, Jane the Virgin and Superior Donuts, Guerrero spoke to a filled Texas Southmost College Arts Center about what many may not know, her family was deported back to Colombia when she was only 14-years old.
That’s the reason the television star has used her platform to become so vocal, to fight for not just her family, but for other immigrants and their families who may be experiencing the same battles she has.
“When I’m not trying to knock down doors in Hollywood, literally banging down the doors saying ‘I belong here too’ … I am going to different schools, like this one, trying to share my experiences, trying to be part of the conversation and trying to be included,” Guerrero said in her conversation with moderator Derick Garcia of KVEO.
The author of her memoir titled “In the Country We Love: A Family Divided”, was greeted with applause and cheers when she pushed for lawmakers to fight and come to a solution on behalf DREAMers and immigrants.
“I want to see our community treated with respect and dignity,” she said. “I’d like to see a comprehensive immigration reform bill passed. We talk about DACA … leave DACA alone. That’s the only thing that is working, but that is only a temporary solution. We need to see actual changes. This fear-mongering around DACA is ridiculous.”
Guerrero also spoke about the need for more diversity in Hollywood, including more women and people of color in writer’s rooms who can tell their own experiences and stories.
“If we don’t see ourselves represented in the media and see all of our stories that are so important and so valuable, how can we really have an imagination as to how far we can get? … In the writers room, we need writers, we need women writers, and all communities. How are a bunch of middle-aged white men going to tell my story? How are they going to write about my experience? They can’t.”
She encouraged people to make change and take control by putting people in office who represent their communities
“A lot of these decision makers as you know are not us, they don’t look like us, they don’t represent us.,” she said. “We have the opportunity this time to really make a difference and right now, we have that opportunity in November when we get to vote in a Congress that’s representative of our values.”
Guerrero’s family remains in Colombia where they have served their 10-year ban since being deported. Guerrero started the process of family reunification when she had the means to do so. That was around the same time Trump took office, which has delayed the effort. Still, the setback has not stopped or discouraged her from fighting for immigration reform and giving a voice to the voiceless.
“It taught me to look inside myself and see what is my purpose,” she said. “Well, guess what, we need representation, we need people out there telling our stories. Right now, your purpose is to be seen and heard so that others that are like you, that come from a similar background, that have those same fears, that have that same fire in their blood, can also say, I can do that too.”