When I was younger, my little sister and I used to watch movies with my parents every Saturday evening. My dad worked really hard Monday through Friday so I didn’t see him often, and my mom just had a tendency to be sick during the week, making Saturday evenings—one of the few times we were ever together—sacred. My parents would obsess over their favorite actors, and we would exclusively watch family movies or action films—traditional notions of masculinity, or as us Latinxs like to call it, “machismo,” prevented me from watching tearful dramas, and our Pentecostal upbringing would deter us from thrillers or horror films as we worked to keep the demons away. Regardless, I looked forward to every Saturday and whatever it was that my overbearing, uber religious, problematic, but ultimately loving parents had in store for the family.
I’ve spoken many times about my growing up and the ways in which the lack of representation in television and cinema affected how I viewed myself. You can find an article that I wrote a couple of years ago that speaks closely to that issue in relationship to #OscarsSoWhite here. Lately, on a different note, as I approach graduation and think about what I want out of my career, I have learned that much like the little kid I was when watching movies with my parents on Saturday evenings, I want more than to create work that I love with people that I love; I’ve realized I want to be famous and I don’t know how to feel about that.
Now, that’s a scary thing to put out there. How could you go to school because you want to learn how to get on Broadway, eventually realize that Broadway is, or rather can be, a soul-sucking pool of gay white tenors with really nice abs and the same hair, spend two years crafting your unique aesthetic that you believe can change the world as we know it, and then, right before graduation, say “nah, I want to be famous?”
Well, the way I see it, if the reason why I went into this industry is because I saw a need for artists that look like me to create work about stories like mine, then why not do that at a high commercially successful level that would give millions of people access to that kind of work and representation? Why not be on a television show or in a movie, and become a Latinx trailblazer?
I feel as if my career goals are constantly evolving. No one prepared me for that. Right now, I want to do really commercially successful television. I want to make bank. I want to walk a red carpet, and I want to have 243k followers on twitter. I will always have a spot in my heart for experimental theatre, non-Broadway bound theatre written by contemporary playwrights interested in reinventing/questioning the form, and multidisciplinary performance art. That said, I’ve also begun to take note of the fact that I am interested in funding artists to create that sort of work, and in order for me to do that, I need money.
So, leave me alone. Let me become a star. I promise I won’t stop fighting for art that matters.