During a special story moment titled “This Is What I Sound Like,” the 36-year-old actress talked about going on her first audition when she was 16 years old.
“I was this little, brown, chubby valley girl who spoke, you know, like, a valley girl,” she recalled. “I walked in, did my audition. The casting director looked at me and she was like, ‘That’s great. Can you do that again, but this time sound more Latina?'”
Ferrera was confused at the request.
“‘Um, so, like, do you want me to do this in Spanish?'” she responded at the time. “She was like, ‘No, no, no, do it in English. But just, you know, like, sound more Latina.’ I am a Latina. And this is what I sound like. And she looked at me and was like, ‘OK, sweetie, thank you. Bye.'”
The Emmy-winning star said her family wasn’t surprised at her experience.
“I told my family, and they said, ‘They wanted you to speak in broken English. They wanted you to sound like a chola. What did you think was going to happen? They were going to have you starring in the next role meant for Julia Roberts?'”
Ferrera emphatically told them, “Yeah, that is what I thought.”
But instead of letting the experience discourage her, it only encouraged her drive.
“That has fueled me to create more opportunity for little brown girls to fulfill their talent and their dream,” she said.