Dominican actress Dascha Polanco opens up about the pressure and stigma she suffers for being an Afro-Latina in Hollywood
Dascha Polanco, Dominican actress who plays Dayanara in the popular series Orange is the New Black, has opened up to Vivala about what it means to be Afro-Latina in Hollywood.
The actress is tired of having to deal with the pressures of racial stigma. In the interview she gave some examples of her personal experiences.
‘We have to be “Fake Latinas,”‘ Polanco told Vivala, coining a term that speaks volumes about society’s attitudes to Afro-Latino performers. It’s about being Latina but not ‘too Latina’. Black but not ‘too black’.
‘When you look at Latinas who are succeeding in Hollywood, they’re super thin and you really can’t tell if she’s Latina or not,’ said Polanco.
The actress also recalled the insecurity and uncertainty she used to live with before landing the role in OITNB. All because of racial stereotypes and the rampant whitewashing of Hollywood. She was plagued by the thought that her Afro-Latina features were holding her back.
‘I just thought, “Oh my God, if only I had lighter eyes. If only I had lighter hair. If only I was skinny. Oh my God, if I was a size 0, I know I would get more work. I could play an Italian right now! This is why you’re not getting a job.”‘
Last year, Polanco also complained that she ‘was too fat for some people’ and that designers refused to dress her because of her curves.
The actress now seeks to promote diversity and encourage other Afro-Latin people to respect and value themselves by combating stereotypes. #SelfLovery is the name of a campaign she is working on to help people learn to love themselves more.