Home Beauty America Ferrera: ‘Women at every level of their careers are having to make choices that cost us money, affect our mental health, our physical health, and quality of life. Our culture and our policies must change’

America Ferrera: ‘Women at every level of their careers are having to make choices that cost us money, affect our mental health, our physical health, and quality of life. Our culture and our policies must change’

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America Ferrera: ‘Women at every level of their careers are having to make choices that cost us money, affect our mental health, our physical health, and quality of life. Our culture and our policies must change’

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America wears Ferragamo dress and earrings, Tabayer ring, Dinosaur Designs cuff

In early 2001, when I had just turned 17, I got an opportunity to start my acting career with two movies back-to-back. It was the dream that nobody ever imagined was possible for me. But I had always believed in myself, because my mother had raised me to believe that in the United States of America, being a poor, short, brown, fat, daughter of immigrants did not preclude my dreams. If anything, it made me an underdog, and there’s not much that the USA loves more than a good underdog story. I was determined to build a career in an industry that didn’t reflect people like me. I refused to be deterred.

I had a hunger to succeed, and a hunger to understand the world. And I knew I would only be truly fulfilled if I pursued education alongside my acting career. So, I chose to go to the University of Southern California to study International Relations. It was a juggling act that squeezed out most of the fun of either experience and left me mostly with work. There were times I’d get acting jobs and have to finish my term papers on the floor of an airport, flying between sets. Nevertheless, I pursued both, juggling studying, auditions, and tutoring for gas money.

But in my freshman year, I started to doubt my acting career. Was I simply being frivolous and driven by my own ego and ambition? I considered quitting acting, because I had decided it was a selfish dream and I should instead become a lawyer or a legislator, someone who could actually make a difference.

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