It didn’t take long for America Ferrera to find the personal connection in the speech she delivers as Gloria in the box-office smash “Barbie.”
“I think when we’re not historically meant to be in a room, it’s very difficult to show up in those spaces as your whole self,” she says on Variety’s Awards Circuit Podcast. “Because you are taught to be grateful, you’re in the room. When you’re coming from a position of having a debt you owe to whoever opened that door for you and let you in, there’s this unspoken reminder that ‘you’re here somehow as a favor.’ And if we opened the door to let you in, we can open the door and let you out. Getting in the room is not the end of the work; it’s only the beginning.”
On this episode of the award-winning Variety Awards Circuit Podcast, we sit down with Emmy winner Ferrera to discuss her blockbuster year, including two outstanding performances in “Barbie” and “Dumb Money.” She discusses her journey through Hollywood following “Ugly Betty” and what to expect from her upcoming directorial feature debut. The Roundtable discusses the awards season kick-off with the National Board of Review and the New York Film Critics Circle. Listen below.
Directed by Greta Gerwig, “Barbie” follows the titular character (played by Margot Robbie) as she explores the real world and encounters Gloria (Ferrera), a Mattel employee who gives Barbie some life lessons on a woman’s place in the real world. “Dumb Money,” based on the book “The Antisocial Network” by Ben Mezrich, tells the true story of a group of amateur investors from the Reddit page WallStreetBets who banded together to put the squeeze on at least two hedge funds that had bet that GameStop shares would fall. In the Craig Gillespie film, Ferrera plays Jenny, a single mother and nurse who bets on the wrong horse.
Fererra says the “Dumb Money” character was unlike anything she had played before: A white woman from Pennsylvania who voted for Donald Trump twice. Ferrera was “fascinated” by the role. “It was another moment in my career of like, ‘oh my gosh, I’m being considered for a role that wasn’t written as a Latina,” she says. “And that was a shock. What fascinated me about that character was our assumptions of what a working-class, struggling mother feels and believes in the world. I genuinely feel for that character. It wasn’t about money. She was being driven by a sense of an idea. That was her reward — the sense of power and belonging to an idea.”
Ferrera’s rise to prominence began with the 2002 film “Real Women Have Curves,” which then led to her role in the groundbreaking TV series “Ugly Betty,” where she portrayed the endearing and relatable Betty Suarez. She became the first (and still only) Latina to win the lead comedy actress award at the Emmys in 2007. She’s also the only one to be nominated in the category more than once.
In addition, Ferrera also drops hints about the chances of an “Ugly Betty” reboot and her excitement regarding her upcoming directorial feature debut, “I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter,” which will shoot in 2024.