Editor’s Note: Welcome to WEEK 16 of #ChingonaFest Fridays on Aspiring Mama. This week has been full of bad news and raw emotions for so many that I’m incredibly grateful for the chance to welcome the weekend with some Happy. Remember my friend Jesenia the Comedic Actress? We first met at Rick Najera’s Almost White book launch in NYC this summer. I immediately fell in love with both Jesenia (and Comedy Girls partner Jenni Ruiza’s) brand of Spanglish comedy and decided we were friends, because anyone who can turn “I Feel Pretty” into the brilliant parody that is “I Feel Crampy” is someone I want on my Christmas card list. (Seriously, click the link. Also? You’re Welcome.)

I consider myself Sort-Of-Almost-Kinda-But-Not-Really-Psychic-Kinda-Like-Sylvia-Brown-But-With-a-Better-Track-Record, so my latching on to The Comedy Girls and their coattails is also a strategic business move. One of us is going to get For Reals Famous eventually…and it’s Most Likely Not Me, so I’m playing nice in the sandbox in hopes of solidifying my Inner Circle status with these two. And I was RIGHT! Jesenia is proudly screaming the news of her first commercial all over social media!

The best part is that there’s MORE and I’m not even trying to talk you an infomercial vacuum while speaking in my Australian announcer’s voice. Jesenia also recently announced  partnership with MiTu Network and her Becoming Ricardo web series. MiTu Network is the word’s leading Latino-run YouTube channel with over 42 million subscribers and a total viewership of six billion. That’s why I’m back with her #chingonafest Friday interview!

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If you’re new to the blog, here’s the link to the my Latina Dimelo column that sparked the conversation that’s still going strong. The premise is this: I want to raise my daughter to be a Chingona — on purpose, Las Tias and cultural backlash be damned. If you like the column, I’d love for you to share with your social media circles, leave a comment on the link, or whip up a happy lil’ Letter to the Editor telling them how you feel and send it off to Editor@Latina.com. You may not think that kind of thing makes a difference, but trust me when I tell you that it does.

Have you checked out my past #ChingonaFest ladies? Vannessa Vasquez and Lori Luna were two of the most recently featured wonder women. Each week, I’m featuring one fabulous Latina who’s moving mountains and raising hell because their stories are worth telling. Twenty questions will be presented to each and 15 will be answered and presented here to you in a Q&A format, like the fancy features in magazines, only with more typos and less airbrushing.

Today’ featured Chingona is too fancy for a last name. She’s Jesenia the Comedian, and she’s fabulous. A NYC comedian with a penchant for singing hilarious I Feel Pretty parodies about why getting our periods as teenagers is anything but magical, Jesenia is also a character actress, writer, and a producer. (And this is one of those moments where I reread what I just typed and think something along the lines of And She’s Talking to Me? But back to the funny lady…) Jesenia, who is one of the two ladies behind the #StillNoLatinas hashtag created in response to Saturday Night Live being jackholes about diversity,  is a master at sketch comedy and fell in love with Improv after training in Second City. She’s also working on a TV Web series called Becoming Ricardo the cohost of The Comedy Girls Radio Show, along with her The Comedy Girls partner Jenni Ruiza (Warning–the link will start singing to you, so hit mute if you’re at work.) Jenni is up on the Fest next week. But right now? Catch up with Jenenia on Twitter and  Facebook.

And it’s time for the interview.

 

 

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Jesenia the Comedian

Jesenia the Comedian

 
Pauline Campos: Chocolate or Vanilla?

Jesenia Comedian: Nothing but Chocolate!

 

PC: My kind of woman. Except for when I want to make a milkshake. That *has* to be vanilla. Back to you, though — Favorite book (and why)?

 

JC: “Chris Farley in Three Acts”. Because it inspired me to continue my comedy career and to appreciate and learn from this life journey every single day.

 

PC: That’s deep. I always think of his SNL skit when I see a van. Down by the river. *sighs wistfully* So, what’s your favorite quote?

 

JC: “We all live on this big rock headed straight for the sun!”

 

PC: I totally didn’t see that one coming. But I’ll take it. Now for something different –  Do you consider yourself a feminist?

 

JC: I love and respect being a woman, but I also love and respect men.  BUT respect is the key!

 

PC: Imma gonna go with you on that one. Describe yourself in third person, please.

JC: Jesenia is totally awesome and sexy and fun and super determined in her comedy career. She loves being a Mom and she has a really awesome dimple!

PC: Oh look at you being all cute and modest! I love it. Tell me who inspires you?

 

JC: – My Grandfather,  Bernardino Rolon – who came to NY with only a 3rd grade education level, yet started his own successful carpentry business and provided his family with unlimited luxuries.
- My Mother, Sonia Rolon – for raising two children on her own and doing great at it!  No matter what we lacked – we never felt it, we always felt RICH!
- My Son – for being an amazing soul.  For understanding that sometimes Mommies and Daddies are better apart. For helping me appreciate and remember how GREAT it is to be a child and child like!
- Chris Farley – for being my comedic inspiration!  Because he lived – I found my comedic voice and not take that for granted!

 

PC: Very nice. Mama and la familia are proud, I’ll bet. Tell me who you hope to inspire.

 

JC: Women & Men who aspire to do comedy, but feel its impossible to accomplish due to their life circumstances.

 

PC:  Do you dream in color or black and white?

 

JC:  My dreams are more like full Technicolor human cartoons.

 

PC: We can talk later about your sharing whatever it is you’re taking. My dreams suck. Next! Let’s play word association. I say CHINGONA and you say…?

JC: Chicharones?

 

PC: You guessed the secret password. That means you’re allowed back on my blog. How do you feel about Latinas and how we are represented in the media?
JC: We are represented in a very inaccurate way.  It’s a shame because this is the year 2014 – but it makes sense because we have never really DEMANDED a correct representation.  I strongly feel the only way we will be accurately represented is if we ALWAYS represent ourselves. i.e.:  writing, directing, acting.  Nobody can misconstrue what you say yourself.

PC: SING IT, SISTER! Accountability for everyone! Quick! One takeaway you want your children to hold onto after they’ve grown and flown the nest…

JC: Always aim for happiness because you will never regret anything you are happy about.

PC: One childhood memory that has stuck with you…

JC: Oh my goodness, there are so many!  Of course only the bad ones come to my mind right away – but I will not shed any dirty laundry here! My mother would kill me!  LOL!!!  So, I would have to say……  when I was a little girl, I enjoyed dressing up like a clown and going shopping with my mother.  She would always humor me and paint my face and let me wear my rainbow stripped and polka dot dress!  I remember feeling so happy watching people look at me and smiling.  I’ve always enjoyed making people smile!  I guess that is why I ultimately chose comedy – it’s a beautiful thing!

PC: Do you think in English, Spanish, or Spanglish?
JC: I think in English.  Except when I am angry – I think in Spanish curses!

PC: I learned what “Hijo de la Chingada Madre” means when my tio got cut off on the freeway by another driver when I was a kid. Now when it happens to me, without fail, I hear “HIJO DE LA CHINGADA MADRE” followed by a heavily-accented “Son of a BEEEEETCH!” *Sighs* Good times….What’s your favorite dish? Why?
JC: I love Lasagna because it’s delicious and full of three of my favorite things – meat, pasta and cheese – I love cheese!

PC: I love it when the answer isn’t wrapped in a tortilla. Speaking of which, do you feel “Latina enough”?

JC: I sure do!  I’ve always been very proud of my Puerto Rican heritage.  I am second generation here and although my Spanish sucks – I am very proud of my people.  Also, I like to give the excuse that I am made up of: Taino Indian, African, Spaniard, French and Irish, but I was born and raised in America…….. soooooo – I know my language.

PC: You have the chance to eat dinner and drink wine with one person, living or dead. Who is it, what do you eat, what kind of wine, AND WHY THAT PARTICULAR PERSON?

JC: Of course I would choose Chris Farley!  We would eat Lasagna, We would drink a Californian Pinot Noir.  He would be the perfect person to pick his brain and I’d ask him if I am making him proud.  I secretly talk to him all the time, so I’d ask if he was listening.

PC: I think there’s medication for that. Do you chew your ice cream? (Or is that just a Me thing?)

JC: I totally chew it!  True CHUBBY fo life, son!

PC: I think I love you. Wait…did you just call me chubby, Gorda? *raises eyebrow* Gimme one Latina stereotype you despise?

JC: That we are all Mexican!

PC: But we ARE. Obviously, you missed the memo, Maria. One Latina stereotype you embrace (or is there one?)

JC: That we’re all MAGNIFICENT in bed.  Because, well…. not to toot my own horn but – TOOT TOOT baby!

PC: You may have just answered the last question, but let’s give it a shot, shall we? Describe your perfect day.

 

JC: Waking up (of course), heading to my own TV studio for a half day of filming my #1 TV sketch show on FOX, that I produce and also perform in.  I’d tell you the name of my sketch show, but I know someone will steal it, so you will find that out when I get my show on the air.  Then a 4 hour writing session with my writers.  Then home to my amazing son, husband and brand new baby for dinner and good times!  Each day lived that way – would be perfection!

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And there ya have it. To nominate a Latina for a future #ChingonaFest Friday feature, email me at aspiringmama@gmail.com or tweet e with the hashtag #ChingonaFest. And don’t forget to check out my latest Dimelo Advice column on Latina Magazine and be sure to send me your questions to dimelo@latina.com.

 

The sun'll come out tomorrow, y'all..

The sun’ll come out tomorrow, y’all..

Who like Pretty Pictures? I’m #MexicaninMaine on Etsy and have more art available on Society6. And because it’s actually relevant, check out my Zazzle and Etsy shops for Sassy #ChingonaFest gear! More designs and products coming soon!

Sign up for The Tortilla Press Newsletter!

Follow me on Twitter, instagram, and here’s the FB fan page! I know. You’re *welcome.*

 

 

I know. You’re *welcome.*

 

 

 

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I’m going to start with the disclaimer. Front and center. Screw the fine print.

What I’m about to say includes a very famous name of a man who committed suicide earlier this week and with the world being what it is, I’m going to tell you right now that Robin Williams was not a coward, that depression is real, and that it’s high-fucking-time we realize we can’t stop talking about suicide prevention and awareness when the headlines fade away.

Because eventually, they will. The aerial video of his home, the conjecture, the theories, and inflammatory (and triggering) comments made by those who refuse to open their eyes to the reality so many of us live with — all of it will stop when the next Media It Topic of the Moment proves itself click-worthy and the herd lose interest in chasing a dead man’s shadow. And when that happens, because it will, the world will keep spinning even when the conversation stops until the next celebrity loses their own battle with the personal demons their too tired to fight anymore.

Rinse, lather, repeat, and a spin around the mulberry bush for good measure.

Meanwhile, we continue to lose our friends and out family members — current statistics show that one person dies every 14 minutes) to suicide. That’s unacceptable. In the Latino community, the statistics are terrifying.

According to the NAMI Multicultural Action Center, Latinos are listed as a definitive high-risk group for depression, anxiety, and substance abuse. This Nami FAQ also states that:

  • Latinos are more likely to experience a major depressive episode with about 45 percent women and 19 percent of males affected
  • The Common Wealth Fund Survey revealed that surveyed Latino and Asian American girls exhibited more depressive symptoms than the African American or Caucasian teen girls.
  • And from a 1997 study, the rate of attempted suicide among Latino high school girls was about 1,5 times higher than that of their counterparts.

And yet, we don’t talk. We don’t reach out for help. Instead, we do as our cultural upbringings have taught us and that, my friends, is to pretend the bad things don’t exist and sweep it all under the rug, lest we bring shame to ourselves and our families.

That shit needs to stop and for that to happen, that means we need to start talking — and then not stop.

Tonight marks the premier #ChingonaFest Google + Hangout in just over an hour. (Shut up on the short notice thing. It’s called Mexican Time and since I’m posting with over an hour to spare, you totally got an early invite.) Topic? Mental Health and the Latino Community. I’ll be joined by Ane C. Romero, Sr. Legislative Assistant/ Mental Health Advisor at U.S. House of Representatives and Heiddi Zalamar, a licensed bilingual mental health therapist based in New York.

We may have a bit of a learning curve, but stick with me as I hit the ground running to take ChingonaFest to the next level. And stay tuned: If I can bribe The Husband into being my lackey, each livestream episode will be converted into a podcast the following week. For now, though, I’m concentrating on tonight. And lastly, due to the sentitive nature of this topic, I’d highly recommend anyone who may be triggered by the dicussion to take care of themselves first by watching The Travel Channel instead and, of course, by making sure the little ones are already chasing their dreams.

See ya soon!

 
"Do you know why I'm sad?" I asked her when she looked t me with those eyes of hers.  "No, mama," she said. "I just want to love you."

“Do you know why I’m sad?” I asked her when she looked at me with those eyes of hers.
“No, mama,” she said. “I just want to love you.”

I had plans today. Lists and To-Do’s are part of my every day. Without a list filled with items one would expect to see of a freelance writer and mother, the utterly mundane fills the majority of the space. Even if I spaz and never get to the important stuff, I can at least feel like I got something done because sometime anything is better than nothing.

Sometimes I make it through the mundane. I brush my teeth. I workout. I shower. I get out of bed before breakfast becomes lunch and lunch pushes dinner into the bedtime.

And I delete as I move through my day, only to replace the item just deleted with four more reasons I’m never going to catch up with myself. If you’re new here, I’m severely ADHD, which can be easily confused with bipolar disorder. I swing up and down with highs and lows, only to a lesser extreme, than a bipolar person. For me, depression has been an on and off and off an on part of my entire memory.

Today, between fielding calls from my mother in Michigan about her basement flooding and learning of Robin Williams’ apparent suicide, I stopped moving forward.My kid and I ended the day with her reading to me from a fairy poetry as we snuggled in her bed. She had no idea why Mama was crying, but she didn’t need to know and she didn’t even ask. All she asked was for me to get into her bed because she wanted to love me.

My heart hurts. People will talk. They will guess and discuss and no one will walk away knowing more than they did when we learned Robin Williams has died of an apparent ssuicide. Some will say he took the easy way out. That he was a coward. That he was selfish for hurting those he left behind. None of this is true. His family and friends are lost in grief. The world will mourn the loss of a genius who made us laugh to distract himself from his own pain. The only lesson is that sometimes even the brightest stars aren’t capable of recognizing the very light that keeps the darkness at bay for the rest of us.

When I was in college, I was hell-bent on destroying myself for a bit. I was promiscuous. I was bulimic, anorexic, extremely depressed and was up all night and slept through almost all of my classes for an entire semester. My friends tried to help, but I hadn’t hit bottom yet in my emotional well. Until I did. With an entire bottle of Advil or Tylenol or whatever it was sitting on the desk in my dorm room. But then I got scared because sleeping and ignoring the sun is not the same as never having the chance to try again. Death is permanent. And I got scared.

Luckily, my boyfriend at the time was a nursing student and he got me to the ER, I drank charcoal, lied when I was asked if I was still feeling like hurting myself (because wanting to and following through are two different things), and was sent home.

Suicide is steeped in stigma and misunderstanding. Those who keep their pain so secret that a suicide attempt shocks even their closest confidants are the ones who the judgmental will refer to as selfish for not thinking of the loved ones left behind. Remarks will be made about if how they’d really been looking for something other than the easy way out, counseling probably would have been a fantastic idea.

And then we sit and wonder why so many suffer in silence when the answer is staring us straight in the face: it’s not that not one single suicidal person has ever felt the need to call out for help. I was one of them. The problem, my friends, is that when we’re so down that we honestly think we are doing the world a favor by ridding you of our presence, you tell us to cheer up, snap out of it, and expect the despair trapped inside of our heads to instantly be replaced with rainbows and unicorns.

That’s not the way it works, but we know you don’t understand. So we smile and nod and try to act like everything is okay because it’s supposed to be. We have friends and family who love us or a great job or just graduated as valedictorian from high school. We’re not supposed to feel like going to sleep and never waking up is a solution. For those of you who do not understand, I am glad. The kind of despair that led Robin Williams to his tragic end is not is by no means the fault of the depressed, nor is it a choice to be made. Depression just is.

And that fucking sucks.

Robin Williams’ death has everyone talking. And a huge part of this conversation needs to focus on more than the often-mentioned connection between creativity and depression. My friend and suicide prevention advocate, Cristi Comes from Motherhood Unadorned, reminded me when she said that while she understands the media coverage surrounding Robin’s death, the conversation simply cannot be dropped. Every fourteen minutes, we lose a loved one or a friend to suicide. To honor their memories  and keep the conversation going – I invite you to submit their name(s) here by emailing me at aspiringmama@gmail or tweeting me with your message at @pauline_campos. As soon as I am able, I will add a linky.

Don’t Stop Talking.

1. Libano Castro, Father. 139-2002. Submitted by Joy Castro

2.  Martin Aguero, Friend. Submittted by Claudia M. Elizondo

3. Matthew Cox, Friend. Submitted by Christopher Ortleib

4. Wendy, aunt. submitted by Aubrey Ortega

5. Jeremy, friend. Submitted by Aubrey Ortega

Hug your loved ones. Hug yourself. Reach out, please, for help, before you try. Call the national suicide prevention hotline at 1-800-273-8255 . If you need to connect or just talk, I’m here. Tweet me. Email me. Aspiringmama@gmail.com.

Just don’t close your eyes to your own light.

 

 

It’s Week FIFTEEN on #ChingonaFest Fridays!

Writer’s Block is Real, y’all.Or maybe it’s more Holy Crash and Burn, Batman, but BlogHer14 kicked my ass. My goal is to get the conference recap online sometime before I turn 90, but it’s one step at a time a time until my braincells have regenerated themselves. Please be patient. I wasn’t running at maximum capacity to before I left for an San Jose so this could take a while.

If you’re new to the blog, here’s the link to the my Latina Dimelo column that sparked the conversation that’s still going strong. The premise is this: I want to raise my daughter to be a Chingona — on purposeLas Tias and cultural backlash be damned. If you like the column, I’d love for you to share with your social media circles, leave a comment on the link, or whip up a happy lil’ Letter to the Editor telling them how you feel and send it off to Editor@Latina.com. You may not think that kind of thing makes a difference, but trust me when I tell you it does.

Have you checked out my past #ChingonaFest ladies? Carol Caine shines in her interview last week, and Elisa Camahort Page rocked her Chingona status just before Carol.  Trust me when I say it’s a must read.

It seems I’ve added Chingona Cheerleader to my soapbox recently (Mostly by accident but I’m running with it anyway). Each week, I’m featuring one fabulous Latina who’s moving mountains and raising hell because their stories are worth telling. Twenty questions will be presented to each and 15 will be answered and presented here to you in a Q&A format, like the fancy fres in magazines, only with more typos and less airbrushing

Today, #ChingonaFest is going Hollywood. Our featured Chingona, actress Vanessa Vasquez, who plays the role of Camila on the popular East Los High on Hulu. The show, which is the first in English to feature an all-Latino cat, doesn’t shy away from pushing the envelope, either. In fact, Vanessa’s character, Camila, is 1/3 of a lesbian-love triangle.

Exactly. This one has #Chingonafest written ALL OVER IT.

Don’t forget to connect with Vannessa on twitter, intagram, and check out her fan page on Facebook. And now! Time for the interview!

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Photo used with permission.

Photo used with permission.

Pauline Campos: Chocolate or vanilla?

Vanessa Vasquez: Mexican chocolate

PC: Fine then. Maybe I *won’t* get you box for Christmas. Let’s try your avorite book (and why) …

VV: Alchemist – story of our spiritual journeys and having faith in our dreams.

PC: What’s your favorite quote?

VV: Everything happens for a reason.

 PC: Do you consider yourself a feminist?

VV: Yes, I believe that women should be allowed to freely express themselves with out judgment. I also believe that a woman’s place is wherever the hell she pleases.

PC: To snaps, bitches! Let’s move on to who inspires you?

VV: My grandmother and my mother inspire me. They both taught me to always believe and to work hard for a better life.

 PC: Who is it you hope to inspire?

VV: I hope to inspire people that no matter the race or social class you are born into. You can also achieve your dreams if you persist.

PC: You’re damned right, sister. Also? Do you dream in color or black and white?

VV: I dream in color.

PC: Surprisingly boring answer coming from you, Vanessa, but let’s see if you can redeem yourself with the next one. Let’s play word association. I say CHINGONA and you say…?

VV: Tu madre ( y la mia) ;) 

 PC: *Falls Over Laughing* It’s like I think it and you *say* it. Where the hell have you been all my life? Answer that later. (We’ve got an interview to finish.) Please share one childhood memory that has stuck with you.

VV:  tripped on a sidewalk when I was 7. I remember saying to myself I will never trip and fall again. From now on I will always pay attention to where I’m going.

 PC: How much do you charge by the hour? My 7-year-old trips over obvious thing, like air and her own feet, pretty much on a daily basis. Do you think in English, Spanish, or Spanglish?

VV: It depends on who I’m with. With my family I think in Spanish. Unless I can’t think of how to say a certain word then it goes to English. So yeah i guess Spanglish.

 PC: My favorite language of all. *sighs happily*  What’s your favorite dish? Why?

VV: My favorite dish is mole de pollo con arroz!!! Mmm I love mole!! My abuelita makes the best.

PC: Do you feel “Latina enough”? 

VV: I honestly didn’t know I was “latina” til I started in entertainment. That’s tough. I can’t define that. I just feel like I’m me. I like to eat tacos, I grew up listening to Selena songs I get loud sometimes. So yea I would say so.

PC: No, I get it. It’s like when my kid didn’t know she was supposed to be afraid of the dark until she read a story about how to not be afraid of the dark. Also? Worst. Picture. Book. EVER. Next Question: you have the chance to eat dinner and drink wine with one person, living or dead. Who is it, what do you eat, what kind of wine, AND WHY THAT PARTICULAR PERSON?

VV: I would want to meet Selena Quintanilla. Honestly her death struck me hard as a child being in the entertainment industry I understand now what people mean when they say she “broke through all of the barriers”. I would like to just talk to her and see her smile again. She inspired me so much as a young Mexican American girl also from Texas. It’s a different lifestyle out there.

PC: I like that. But make sure you get a table for three ‘cuz I’m hanging out for that conversation. What would you order for dessert? I’d totally order ice-cream.  I’m Do you chew your ice cream? (Or is that just a Me thing?)

VV: I have sensitive teeth. It just melts in my mouth.

PC: Pretty sure it’s *supposed* to do that. Moving on…. One Latina stereotype you despise?

VV:  That we all look a certain way. Truth is we come in all colors.

 PC: One Latina stereotype you embrace (or is there one?)

VV: I don’t mind the sexy, curvy thing all that much.

PC:  Describe your perfect day.

VV: Yoga, and picnic on the beach with my bae.

 

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And there ya have it. To nominate a Latina for a future #ChingonaFest Friday feature, email me at aspiringmama@gmail.com or tweet me with the hashtag #ChingonaFest. And don’t forget to check out my latest Dimelo Advice column on Latina Magazine. Girlfriend needed a reality check…so I gave her one.

Oh! And be sure to send me your questions to dimelo@latina.com.

 

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Just call me Pollyanna…

Who like Pretty Pictures? I’m #MexicaninMaine on Etsy and have more art available on Society6. And because it’s actually relevant, check out my Zazzle and Etsy shops for Sassy #ChingonaFest gear! More designs and products coming soon!

Sign up for The Tortilla Press Newsletter!

Follow me on Twitter, instagram, and here’s the FB fan page! I know. You’re *welcome.*

 

 

 

It’s Week FOURTEEN on ChingonaFest Fridays! I’m not even going to lie to you.

Necessity is the mother of invention, and crazed, last-minute, Week Before BlogHer Memory Lane tripping with previously published work is just a nice way of saying It’s This or I Got Nuthin’. I used to go all out and try to provide shiny and new material before each conference but I moved beyond the need to drive myself off the nearest cliff repeatedly around the time I figured out 14 pairs of shoes and 50 copies of my unpublished memoir manuscripts are not required packing.

Hint: Unpack 12 pairs of shoes now. Leave the unpublished magnum opus at home. And you can thank me later.

That takes me to my reason for writing today. In an attempt to keep my ChingonaFest Fridays feature going with some regularity, I’m rerunning my kickass interviews with two of my fave BlogHer ladies. This week it’s Lori Luna and next Friday y’all get another chance to catch up with Elisa Camahort Page (without having to scroll).

If you’re new to the blog, here’s the link to the my Latina Dimelo column that sparked the conversation that’s still going strong. The premise is this: I want to raise my daughter to be a Chingona — on purposeLas Tias and cultural backlash be damned. If you like the column, I’d love for you to share with your social media circles, leave a comment on the link, or whip up a happy lil’ Letter to the Editor telling them how you feel and send it off to Editor@Latina.com. You may not think that kind of thing makes a difference, but trust me when I tell you it does.

Have you checked out my past #ChingonaFest ladies? Carol Caine shines in her interview last week. Trust me when I say it’s a must read.

It seems I’ve added Chingona Cheerleader to my soapbox recently (Mostly by accident but I’m running with it anyway). Each week, I’m featuring one fabulous Latina who’s moving mountains and raising hell because their stories are worth telling. Twenty questions will be presented to each and 15 will be answered and presented here to you in a Q&A format, like the fancy features in magazines, only with more typos and less airbrushing.

Lori Luna’s bio speaks for itself. She is the Vice President of Events Operations, overseeing all operational and logistical elements of BlogHer conferences. Since joining BlogHer in 2009, Lori has helped grow the conference business from one annual conference a year to include BlogHer Food, Entrepreneurs and BlogHer PRO, as well as the annual flagship event. With more than 12 years in the event/conference industry and background producing events such as COMDEX, N+I, and ad:tech, Lori has been instrumental in growing attendance for the events, as well as revenue for the company.

And now! Time for the interview!

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Lori Luna

Lori Luna

 

Pauline Campos: Chocolate or vanilla?  

Lori Luna: Always vanilla, I know that is boring to some but it makes me happy.  Vanilla is so versatile and can make anything taste good.

PC: I’ll go with that. Vanilla is kind of the blank canvas of the ice cream world. Favorite book and why: 

LL: Anything that has a political nature.  I love to read autobiographies of political people.  I find it fascinating as to why they do what they do and how they came to where they are whether it was in the past or current.  Another is the Book of Questions…it’s an icebreaking book that asks random questions that both starts conversation and generates fabulous discussion.

PC: So you’re saying the Twilight series is out. Okay, then..lWhat’s your favorite quote?  

LL: Fake it ’til you make it

PC: No wonder we get along. I say that all the time. I won’t ask you how I’m doing till I’ve crossed the finish line. Do you consider yourself a feminist?  

 LL: Most of the time.  There are certain things I am passionate about such as equal pay for equal work and then there are things that just don’t bother me like they would bother someone else. I guess I am an issues oriented feminist.

PC: Issue Oriented? I LOVE that. *Adds to mental Rolodex to use in stimulating conversation* Describe yourself in third person  

LL: Lori is a kind, generous, thoughtful person.  She has passion and fire and that is both good and bad.  She is fiercely loyal and will live and die on principle.

PC: I like the honesty. My fire isn’t always nice, either. Who inspires you?  

LL: Smart people.  When I have the opportunity to meet really smart people who are doing something fabulous I am inspired.  I also just watched the Tina Turner interview by Oprah and wow!  She was very inspirational.  I think I’m inspired in the moment..I don’t have a single person that I think, she (or he) inspires me to be “x”

 PC: *Blushing* It’s okay, Lori. You don’t have to talk in riddles. You inspire me, too. Do you dream in color or black and white?  

LL: Color

PC: ME TOO! But I don’t remember my dreams very often. How do you feel about Latinas and how we are represented in the media?  

LL: Frankly I am tired of how Latina women are always showcased with an accent. As if none of us were born here and can speak without the accent.  I find it annoying!  Oh and there aren’t enough of us!!!

PC: Amen on the accent thing. I don’t think I have one, either, except I roll my ‘R’s’ when I say “three”. Go figure. Quick! One takeaway you want your children to hold onto after they’ve grown and flown the nest…  

LL: I don’t have kids

 PC: And let’s add “a million children running around in diapers” to the Latina stereotype. I’ve got one and the last family wedding I went to, I had tias outright ask me why I only had one. Like I failed the Mexican test, or something. Anyway, one childhood memory that has stuck with you…  

LL: One of my favorite memories is riding in the car with my mom and I was about 5 and Ricky Nelson was on the radio singing Garden Party.  My mom specifically called out these lyrics: You see, ya can’t please everyone, so ya got to please yourself (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fxdiraVxwkI)  Ever since then I live by the idea that you can’t please everyone so you’ve got to please yourself.

 PC: Do you think in English, Spanish, or Spanglish?  

LL: Sadly I only speak English, what a pathetic Latina!

PC: Stop it right now. Language doesn’t define us. We do, sister. End. Of. Story. What’s your favorite dish? Why?  

LL: Anything my father cooks!  He makes a mean chorizo and menudo and oh, that always makes me feel like home.

PC: CHORIZO – yum! MENUDO- *blech!* Do you feel “Latina enough”? 

LL: Not when I’m surrounded by other Latinas who are fluent in Spanish and doing something in the Latin community…then I feel lame.  I am never ashamed or embarrassed by who I am I just feel lame that I haven’t embraced my culture as much as I think I should.

PC: Stop feeling lame, woman! I used to feel the same way, but now I just focus on my own perspective on Being Latina. Also? You like menudo. That automatically means you earned your Mexican card. Now…You have the chance to eat dinner and drink wine with one person, living or dead. Who is it, what do you eat, what kind of wine, AND WHY THAT PARTICULAR PERSON? 

LL: President Clinton! I have had an absurd political crush on him for years.  He is brilliant, charming, charismatic and did I say brilliant?

PC: It takes a special kind of charm to make us all question the meaning of the word “is”, that’s for damned sure. Do you chew your ice cream? (Or is that just a Me thing?)  

 LL: No. Chew ice cream???

PC: Okay, then. Just me. MOVING ON! Describe your perfect day.  

LL: Any day where I can be with my dog and just relax – Missy first!

 

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And there ya have it. To nominate a Latina for a future #ChingonaFest Friday feature, email me at aspiringmama@gmail.com or tweet me with the hashtag #ChingonaFest. And don’t forget to check out my latest Dimelo Advice column on Latina Magazine. Two besties made a bet on who I would say is right. For the record? They were both wrong.

Oh! And be sure to send me your questions to dimelo@latina.com. Don’t worry. I promise to give you a kick-ass code-name that doesn’t rhyme with your own.

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