SPOTLIGHT: The Midas Touch

America: The first movie interested me because I saw these girls fighting with themes that most movies generally do not relate with girls of that age. Generally you see them worried about who is going to take them to prom or who they sit with at lunch. I believe that movies tend to represent young women, and even all young people, with a very superficial, emotional life. Therefore, what I loved about the character is that not only did she fight with superficial questions, but with real things such as ethnic identity, her relationship with her father and the meaning of family. That part of the character touched me. And I wanted to know what happened to the character four years later. In the second movie, the girls finish their first year in college and return home.

SRD: Do you see a parallel between Carmen's life and yours?

America: I believe that almost all the roles I've played have a very special place in my heart and they are part of who I am. I have asked myself the same questions that Carmen has asked herself in terms of how should I define myself. Yes my close relationships define me, or the people with whom I feel comfortable with or the new people that I meet. Each time that you involve yourself in something new you have the opportunity to reinvent yourself. But at the same time it is a horrifying experience. One has to be willing to accept the new experiences and, in my case, each time I begin a new job I experience that sensation again.

SRD: What do you think of Hollywood in light of the fact that of the film's four main characters, two, that is to say you and Alexis Bledel, are Latinas?

America: I think that there is a more open attitude to accept people of different races in the large studio movies and in the programs of the large television networks, because that is the direction that the media is taking nowadays. It is marvelous to harvest the fruits of many years of fighting on the part of the Latin Americans to enter this medium. It's about being at the right place at the right time. But I also know that I am breaking even more barriers for the next generation of actors of all races and colors.

SRD: Have you always been as determined as you are now? What kind of girl were you?

America: I was very noisy and loudmouthed and full of energy, passionate and sensitive. I was about seven years old when I announced to my family that I wanted to be an actress. The movies always caused me to shed tears. I felt everything with a lot of intensity.

SRD: How was it to grow up in a house with five other women —your mother and four sisters— and a brother?

America: I am very thankful for the childhood that I had. My mother taught me to believe in myself and that there was nothing in the world that I could not achieve. Although it sounds cliché, that's what gave me strength to achieve my ambitious goals. I have five marvelous siblings, and we are all very different. Each one of us has our own interests and our own road.

SRD: Do you consider your mother a heroine? All your siblings went to college, and she raised them alone.

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