By Nikki Nuño
How much do you think your genetic make-up defines you? How about the cultural backgrounds your family has passed onto you? For Ms. Strangeluv, it’s something that has crossed her mind more than most. If you haven’t had the opportunity of being in a class taught by someone who’s worked side-by-side directors from Supernatural, Stranger Things, American Horror story (just to name a few), then you haven’t heard of her. When it comes to her cultural background, she knows exactly what she is and what she isn’t. She’s very vocal about her distinctive background that has helped her become a bold advocate for racial equality.
When asked about her ethnic background, our conversation went in multiple directions; she began listing her father’s background of German, Italian, Irish and Jewish descent. She elaborated a little more about her mother’s make up of Native and Southern Latin American. She explains how native would be the best way to describe her mother considering she was born in Mexico, but her ancestry begins in Cuba and Portugal, “that’s where the weirdness comes out”.
She shared that once her parents decided to start a family, they formed a new set of their own traditions, differing a lot from those she grew up around. Her father is a lot more accepting and it may be a result of his level of education or his level of exposure, but “he’s a lot more open to different to different cultures.” Her mother is a very strong-willed woman who sticks to her roots, leaving many with the assumption of close-mindedness. She may sometimes seem she has a hard time figuring out what she is, “so she must stick to being Hispanic very strongly. So, her views on life tend to be a little different in that way.”
I was greeted with an ironic response when I asked if there’s a culture she connects with the most; she doesn’t. She told me she believes this is caused from her interesting placement as a child. Even at a young age she knew she wasn’t like the Hispanic girls in her class. She knew that she was not more so one thing than the other, so she reflected by saying “I just need to bridge whatever I am and create my own identity”. Instead of feeling like an outcast, she appreciated her diverse culture and decided to take control of her identity. A bold move many aren’t willing to take in a world where acceptance is key to the social hierarchy. She did share though that one of the cons of being so divergent is not fitting into your immediate social surroundings, setting you back from having more things in common with your friends. She rebutted that with “that actually made me stronger when it comes to who I am as a person, because I don’t rely on where I come from, I rely on who I am.”
Overall, she believes diversity gives her the freedom of speaking about social racism, economic disparity, even racism within our community.