What does beauty mean to you?
As cliché as it may sound, to me, beauty comes from within. If you don’t feel beautiful, you won’t exude beauty. If you are beautiful from within, then I will only see beauty no matter what you look like physically. I love beautiful people and surround myself with them. My friends and family are all beautiful, kind, generous, loving, forgiving, and I count the blessings I have had in my life.
Want to clear up what misconceptions about Afro-Latino heritage/identity are?
The term Afro-Latinx is a newer term, so a lot of people outside of the Latinx community don’t know what it means. I once had people think it meant one of my parents was African American and the other was Latinx, and I even had someone who thought that was the term used for a Latinx. with an afro. (Ha! No.)
But I cannot completely blame them because the history we are taught in this country does not include the actual events surrounding the colonization of the New World and the African diaspora. So I’ll give you a quick history lesson on the matter: The islands colonized by white Europeans (Spain, France, the Netherlands) in the Caribbean (present-day Dominican Republic. , Haiti, Cuba, etc.). There were Indians in these lands, and Europeans brought African slaves with them. As only European men colonized, they eventually began raping African and Aboriginal women, which started a lineage of “mixed” people. These people spanned a wide range of skin colors and European, Aboriginal and African features, which is why Latinx is so diverse today! Lesson ends. Both my parents are from the Dominican Republic. I was born here in the states of Brooklyn, so I’m Dominican-American. Both my parents are Afro-Latinx, which means they are Latinx with African features and brown skin, and I look like them. We are all black and of Latinx ethnicity, more specifically Dominican.
Sadly, there’s still a lot of colorism in the Latinx community, as we’ve been brainwashed into thinking that whiter skin is better. For this reason, many Afro-Latinx people do not use the term and denounce their African heritage. That makes me sad, but I think it’s starting to change, and hopefully articles like this will open more people’s eyes to our beautiful diversity.
How has your personal life experience influenced your beauty philosophy?
My mother has beautiful and ageless skin, so all my life I have always been interested in her beauty and makeup routines. She always keeps it simple, and so do I. I only wear heavy makeup for the auditions, but my daily makeup includes mascara, blush, brow powder, and lip balm—that’s it! As for skin care, I’ve been upping it for the past few years, but my main rule that I also learned from my mom is never Go to bed with makeup. I’ve been wearing makeup since high school, and I never fell asleep with it!
What inspires you to share your gifts with others?
When I think about young Grasie – a little girl so insecure that she was too shy to look anyone in the eye until her early 20s – that prompted me to start working. I am a storyteller and whether I am telling stories through acting or good writing or directing blogging or podcastingI love and cherish switch! And I want those stories to be for women, for Black girls, for Latinx girls, for all of BIPOC, for the LGBTQ+ community, and for people with disabilities — for anyone who’s ever felt.” different” or “inferior”. That’s why I tell stories and do what I do. I want to inspire girls and boys to accept their uniqueness and not be ashamed of it or want them to have to change or assimilate in order to survive. Representation matters, and I aspire to do everything in my power as a storyteller to make sure everyone’s stories are told.
Have you ever felt “banned” or excluded from beauty trends or the beauty industry in general? If so, please describe an instance that you can recall.
Yes, every time. Especially when I’m an actor and make-up artist have to mix two shades of foundation to match my skin tone or when they can’t match each other at all because they don’t have enough experience with brown skin. . Or when the hairdresser looks at my curls and is obviously threatened. The beauty industry needs to diversify its palettes. And while some companies are doing just that, there are still ways to go. Our browns and blacks come in varying degrees of yellow or red, and makeup brands need more variety and makeup artists need training to work with. all skin colors. Regarding hair, it’s such a big topic that we could spend another whole article. But I’ll say this: I’ve had so many bad hair experiences on set that now when I book a job, I send the producer pictures of my curly, straight, and wavy hair. and asked them how they wanted my hair so I could appear that way and hopefully avoid more nightmare situations. This shouldn’t happen, but it’s for a lot of Brown and Brown actors. It needs to change.
What advice do you have for Afro-Latinos who may be struggling with the complexities of their identities in the beauty space or the world at large?
Embrace your Blackness and your Latinidad! Don’t shrink to match the white space and know that you are beautiful!