I acted wherever anyone would let me—in school, the local community college, and free community theater programs. But I threw myself and my hard-earned cash at every single opportunity that came my way. Somehow the boxes I resisted being shoved into during my childhood were even tighter and more suffocating in Hollywood.
It took me far too long to understand she wanted me to speak in broken English. Even some of the people I paid to represent me did not believe in my vision for my career. When I was eighteen I told my manager that I was sick of going out for the role of Pregnant Chola 2 or the sassy Latina sidekick. I wanted him to send me out for roles that were grounded and well written. I wanted to play characters who were everyday people with relatable hopes and dreams. After hustling for years to break down doors and working my hardest to prove my talent and grit, I had to admit that the stories I wanted to tell and the characters I wanted to play were virtually invisible from our cultural narrative.
I have been supremely lucky to get the opportunities to play some wonderful, authentic, and deep characters, but if I look around at the vast image being painted about the American experience, I see that there are so many of us missing from the picture. Our experiences, our humor, our dramas, our hopes, our dreams, and our families are almost nonexistent in the stories that surround us. And while growing up that way might turn us into badass-Jedi-master-translators-of-culture who are able to imagine ourselves as heroes, villains, or ThunderCats, we deserve to be truly reflected in the world around us.
And, most common, I hear from all kinds of people that they gain confidence and self-esteem when they see themselves in the culture—a brown girl, a brace-face, an aspiring journalist, an underdog, an undocumented father, a gay teen accepted by his family, a gay adult rejected by his mother, a store clerk getting through the day with dignity and a sense of humor, a sisterhood of girls who love and support one another, and, yes, share magical pants—simple portrayals that say in resounding ways, you are here, you are seen, your experience matters.
I believe that culture shapes identity and defines possibility; that it teaches us who we are, what to believe, and how to dream. We should all be able to look at the world around us and see a reflection of our true lived experiences. Until then, the American story will never be complete. This compilation of personal stories, written by people I deeply admire and fangirl out about on the regular, is my best answer to my nine-year-old self. That her feelings of being too much of this, or not enough of that, are shared by so many other creative, talented, vibrant, hardworking young people who will all grow up to transcend labels and become awesome people who do kick-ass things like win Olympic medals, and run for office, and write musicals, and make history that changes the country and the world.
For my family, moving to America meant falling from upper-middle class to poverty. Yep, ice skating in Africa. Imagine that! When I landed in the cold concrete jungle that is the South Bronx, nothing could have prepared me for the brutal culture shock I was about to experience.
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We lived about a mile away from Yankee Stadium. Right off the th Street stop on the 4 train. It was the hood but a step above the projects. This was pre-Giuliani era, so you could get robbed for your sneakers and MetroCard just walking down the block. But that one little mistake made me lie about my age throughout all of grade school. I was the biggest people pleaser in the world, but we will get to that later. The only other French-speaking person in the entire school was a kid named Alpha, who was from another African country. The teacher called him from his class and asked him to hang with me the entire day to show me the ropes.
Alpha was going to help me figure this whole thing out. I started asking him mad questions. I kept the questions coming. The teacher told Alpha to escort me to the bathroom and then to the cafeteria for lunch. He was having the time of his life misleading the FOB fresh off the boat African kid. As we headed to the cafeteria I was so excited to have American food. Until then, all I had in Abidjan was our version of overmarinated French-style pizzas and hamburgers.
The cafeteria looked and smelled like a hospital. There was nothing appetizing about the way the food was presented either. The food looked like it had been in the freezer forever. I chose lasagna, because it looked like spaghetti. I also got the cup of mixed fruit. For drinks, the only options were small red and brown cartons.
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I asked Alpha which one was sweet, and he told me the red carton. When we sat down to eat, I almost puked! The food had no taste at all. The lasagna was dry as hell, and the cheese inside smelled disgusting.
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The mixed fruit was slimy. How can people eat this? Alpha was laughing so hard he was almost crying. After trying a few times I just ripped it. Now, mind you, in Abidjan milk has to be warmed and sweetened before you drink it. As soon as the nasty cold milk hit my tongue I spit it out. It was almost like a gag reflex. Alpha was laughing out loud by now with tears in his eyes. That was it. I grabbed the chocolate milk off his tray, ripped it open, and tried it.
It was sweet. I guzzled it down quickly. He took his tray and jetted outside in a fit of anger. I was actually smiling now, because I had finally given him a taste of his own medicine. When I got outside to the playground, kids were coming up to me telling me something about Alpha. I felt kind of bad and wanted to talk to him.
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Before I got to the exit I saw him with a group of kids behind him. I was completely caught off guard, because I never imagined that he would go from zero to one hundred over chocolate milk. He kept swinging at me, and I kept backing up, trying to talk some sense into him. We were surrounded by a crowd egging him on. I grabbed him and tried to hold him close, but he broke free and clocked me with a couple of good ones to the chin.
Plus it was guaranteed that my pops was going to tear my ass up when we got home. When my pops showed up, he was visibly angry.
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I did the one and only thing he told me not to do. And crazy enough, like five minutes later we saw a picture of Demi in Africa. We were like it must be Demi. And it was. Also with my old band, opened for them when they were doing it as a more of a band thing. It's been really interesting because it's the kind of songs that I've written one or two years ago, or maybe longer, that are continuing to come out as songs for other artists, which is really cool, but there's nothing like writing a song exactly the way I want to based on my life. I just have trouble feeling genuine getting on stage if it's not something that's really personal to me.
Up next for LAUV? Log In Sign Up. By Nicole Mastrogiannis July 10, The Story Behind "I Like Me Better" Having spent some time writing and producing for other artists, Lauv's first single "The Other," was the first song that felt special enough to him that he didn't want to give it up to another artist, and the same goes for "I Like Me Better.
He tells us of the story behind the collab: "When we found out that Demi was going to be on it, it was total dream come true. Take a moment to breathe so you can react in a positive way. Smile at the person and give them your full attention. Start with something really basic and go from there.
American Like Me
By starting with a basic compliment, you can buy some time to think of something more detailed in case the question caught you off guard. When you do think of something specific, focus on their positive personality traits and back it up with an example. For more help, including how to add more sincerity to your answer, scroll down. This article was co-authored by our trained team of editors and researchers who validated it for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
Together, they cited information from 6 references.
Categories: Maintaining Relationships. Learn more Method 1. When someone asks you this question, it might catch you off-guard or make you feel nervous because they are putting you on the spot. Feeling nervous can make you blurt out things without really thinking about them first. Take a deep breath before you answer. Start with something basic. Is this person your friend? A significant other? A family member? Whatever their role is, give them praise for that role.
If you feel caught off-guard by the question, starting with something basic can also buy you some time to think about a more specific answer. Go into more detail. You make me feel so supported. You always put a lot of thought into our relationship. I have so much fun with you.
Back your statement up with an example. Try to think of a specific example that you can use to support your comments. I was so upset and you took the time to comfort me. I still laugh about the practical joke we played on your brother last summer. No one else did that. I aced the last algebra exam because you helped me study. Method 2. Use positive and specific words. Your last project was great. I wish I could draw that well! I love how brave you are.
Every time we hang out, you share new bands with me. Tell them about their best personality trait.