“Sometimes, rejection is protection — or, most of the time, the things that aren’t for you just aren’t for you and you have no idea what’s coming next.”
Last week, America hopped on a call with us to talk about her episode of Adobe’s digital series Create Change. Her episode is all about how she created her impact — and how others can, too. As a huge fan of America’s, I couldn’t be more excited to talk to her about how she’s creating her impact, BTS facts and stories about her most iconic roles, and how she’s trying to make “Business-Fierce™” the new office dress code. Here’s everything we learned:
1. What is the first thing you do in the morning?
Make a bottle to feed my 6-month-old child.
2. Desert island: what are three movies you cannot live without?
Love Actually, Gypsy — the made-for-TV version starring Bette Midler — and In The Heights because I’m being forced to live without it and I want it now.
3. Name a celebrity on your bucket list to star with in a project.
Bette Midler. She was my icon growing up and is one of the main reasons I wanted to become an actor.
4. Who was your childhood celebrity crush?
Pacey on Dawson’s Creek. Like, more than Joshua Jackson, it was Pacey in Dawson’s Creek — that’s who I wanted to spend the rest of my life with.
5. What song always puts you in a good mood?
Anything by Alicia Keys.
6. What is a typical day like for you in quarantine?
A typical day [starts] very early in the morning with my children, a lot of Zoom calls, hopefully a trip to the park with my kids — if I’m lucky — at some point in the day, and then, if I’m really lucky, wine at night with my husband.
7. Have you picked up any new quarantine hobbies?
The official answer is no [laughs]. I refuse to take on more hobbies. I guess, like, wine and dark chocolate? They’ve always been a hobby, but in quarantine, I’ve really leaned into it.
8. How have you adjusted to “She Se Puede” in quarantine versus IRL?
It’s been crazy! We were planning our whole launch that was live and in person, [but] quarantine has really changed our plans. I have now worked with a massive team who have built and launched this amazing platform and I haven’t even met some of them in person. I have started whole new relationships with people who are really important in my day-to-day life who I haven’t even met face-to-face — it’s pretty amazing.
9. What is your go-to adult beverage?
10. What is your current iPhone wallpaper?
Awww, my babies.
11. Do you have any guilty pleasures?
Everything makes me feel guilty [laughs]. But my actual guilty pleasure is doing nothing. Like, if I hide for a few minutes and literally stare at a wall and do nothing, that is the guiltiest pleasure I could ever indulge in.
12. What is your go-to comfort food?
Pizza, for sure.
13. What is your most starstruck moment?
This is embarrassing, because I know him now, but definitely when I met Leonardo DiCaprio. Look, I was what, 14 when Titanic came out? There’s a whole generation of us that’s like, [Leo] is our go-to crush.
14. Have you taken any wardrobe pieces or props from the set of your previous projects?
Oh, absolutely. All the time. From Ugly Betty, I took the original poncho and I have my braces that I wore on the show. I’m going to get them bronzed.
15. What inspires you to create change?
What inspires me is that there is still so much story to be told and there are still so many voices to be heard from — voices and stories that inspire me every day and that I cannot even believe haven’t been heard and given space in our mainstream media [to be heard]. I just get excited every day to get to be a part of bringing new voices and new stories into our mainstream culture.
16. How would you advise the younger generation to create their impact?
Sometimes, rejection is protection.
I would say to…not limit yourself. Don’t try to control your path and fit into any lane or box or label. Do everything and anything that excites you and that you’re passionate about, because in doing all of the things that you love, you will be able to contribute something new and unique and original to all the different spaces that you exist in.
17. What was the last book that you read?
See No Stranger: A Memoir and Manifesto of Revolutionary Love by Valarie Kaur.
18. What is a movie or show that people will be surprised to learn that you auditioned for?
I auditioned for — and got really close to getting — the role of Carmen Lopez on The George Lopez Show. I came in and auditioned for the studio and then the network and was making my way up the chain, but I didn’t end up getting it. I was devastated and heartbroken and thought that I would never amount to anything. But then a couple of years later, George’s show was still on the air at ABC and it was Ugly Betty‘s first season on ABC and we saw each other at the Upfronts and I think that [George Lopez] was so relieved to say to me, “Look! It all worked out!” Sometimes, rejection is protection — or, most of the time, the things that aren’t for you just aren’t for you and you have no idea what’s coming next.
19. What is your favorite on-set memory from Superstore?
In Season 1, we did this overnight episode where everybody gets locked in the store and we all get drunk in the episode and we were, like, acting drunk all day long, that it just got to the point where we all felt like we were actually drunk and it was just a giggle-fest. A crazy, delirious zone that we all got in for five days in a row — it was so weird, but it was also a blast.
20. Describe your style in three words.
Fierce. Sexy. Business….Business-Fierce™.
21. Which of your roles do you relate to the most: Ana from Real Women Have Curves, Carmen from The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, or Betty from Ugly Betty?
I feel like each of those characters’ stories is my story. It’s so impossible to pick and it’s so impossible to separate myself and my lived experiences from those characters. Every single one of them drew on my own lived experience — sometimes I’m even like, “Oh yeah, I worked at a magazine,” and then I’m like, “Oh, that wasn’t me, that was Betty.” I feel so close to all these characters — I could never pick.
22. If you direct a biopic about any Latinx legend, who would you choose?
There is this 5’2” Central-American tennis hall-of-famer who was the tennis partner to Billie Jean King for years and nobody knows about her. Her name is Rosie Casals and she had an amazing and massive career in the heyday of women’s tennis, but she, in her own right, is practically unknown, and that to me is a crime because I genuinely feel that if I had known she existed, I would have become a tennis player. Like, a really good tennis player. Like, I could have been Serena Williams! Not knowing Rosie existed robbed me of my potential glory! [Writer’s note: America was being tongue-in-cheek.] No, but seriously, I always had an interest in tennis but had no exposure to it — I actually had to learn how to play for Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. I remember loving it so much — but I do wonder what would have happened if I had exposure to someone who looked like me making it [in tennis.]. People should know who she is.
23. What was the last meal you cooked?
My husband has done so much of the cooking in quarantine — which I am so grateful for — but the last meal I cooked…I just put cream cheese on cinnamon raisin toast, does that count? [Writer’s note: I informed America that that does, in fact, count.]
24. If you could pick anyone living — or dead — to have dinner with, who would you pick?
Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. I wanna talk to them about what we’re gonna get done and how we’re gonna do it.
25. What is the most used emoji on your phone?
🤦🏾♀️ [The facepalm].
26. What is the last thing you looked up on Google?
“Isabel Wilkerson.” She’s the author of Caste, which everyone should read.
27. Finally, what is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
In the past year, I was told — and this seems so simple and easy and cliché — but I was reminded to “reap what’s in harvest.” To not resist…what you’re being pulled towards. Like, for me, it’s my creative life and my engaged citizen life. Sometimes I’m deeply in one and I should be more in the other and vice versa. Or, even in quarantine, the downtime of being with family — don’t resist the downtime, be in the downtime. Lean into what’s presenting itself and don’t wish it away or compare it to what you think it should be.