America Ferrera was presented with the SeeHer Award at the Critics Choice Awards and delivered a powerful speech just like she did in the Barbie movie.
Margot Robbie presented Ferrera with the accolade, highlighting some of her roles over the years, including Real Women Have Curves, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, and Ugly Betty. Robbie noted that in the role of Betty, “she blazed a trail for Latina actresses while teaching everyone we are so much more than what we think we are.”
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Ferrera won an Emmy for Ugly Betty, with Robbie mentioning she was the first Latina to do so in the Lead Actress in a Comedy category and continues to be the only one.
Once on stage, Ferrera opened up about receiving the honor at the gala and growing up as a “first-generation Honduran-American girl in love with TV, film, and theater who desperately wanted to be a part of a storytelling legacy that I could not see myself reflected.”
“Of course, I could feel myself in characters who were strong and complex, but these characters rarely, if ever, looked like me,” she said. “I yearned to see people like myself on screen as full humans.”
Ferrera said that when she started in the industry, “it seemed impossible that anyone could make a career of portraying fully-dimensional Latina characters” and gave credit to writers, directors, producers, and executives “who were daring enough to rewrite outdated stories and to challenge deeply entrenched biases.”
The Barbie actress gave a shoutout to her co-star Ariana Greenblatt, as well as Jenna Ortega and Selena Gomez, for bringing characters to life that Ferrera says she “could not have seen growing up.”
“To me, this is the best and highest use of storytelling,” she continued. “To affirm one another’s full humanity. To uphold the truth that we are all worthy of being seen. Black, Brown, indigenous, Asian, trans, disabled, any body type, any gender, we are all worthy of having our lives richly and authentically reflected.
Ferrera also acknowledged Robbie for seeing the “value in Barbie, an entirely female idea that most would have dismissed as too girly, too frivolous or just too problematic.”
“You had the courage and the vision to take it on,” she continued. “Thank you for gifting the world with Barbie.”
Ferrera then dedicated some words to director Greta Gerwig “for proving through your incredible mastery as a filmmaker that women’s stories have no difficulty achieving cinematic greatness and box office history at the same time. And that unabashedly telling female stories does not diminish your powers — it expands them.”
The Kens Noah Baumbach, Tom Ackerley, David Heyman, and Ryan Gosling were also acknowledged by Ferrera, saying they were a “man enough to support women’s work” and adding, “You are all brilliant and you are more than enough.”
Ferrera closed her speech, thanking her husband Ryan, “You see me and my dreams, and you believe and support them as if they were your own. I love you.”
“This is for every kid yearning to break in — I see you, and you go this,” she ended.
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