Bomba Estereo’s “Soy Yo” single off their fourth album, Amanecer, always contained a message of empowerment. With the help of one quirky starlet from central New Jersey, however, and a proper visual directed by Torben Kjelstrup, “Soy Yo” soon went viral, becoming a self-love anthem for brown girls everywhere.
Sarai Gonzalez, 11, was one of hundreds who auditioned for the Grammy-nominated Colombian band’s video, yet it was her tender smile and in-your-face dance moves that immediately captivated everyone around. Gonzalez’s breakthrough performance—shot in Brooklyn, NY—also caught the attention of countless coming-of-age Latinas on social media.
Excited about the response it has been receiving online, Gonzalez admits her on-screen character was informed by her real-life encounters with bullies at school. “The message of this video is just to be yourself and not care what anyone else thinks no matter what. I’m proud to be a part of this video because I’ve overcome bullying,” she says to NBC News, adding that you should “adore [yourselves], it doesn’t matter what other people think.”
Gonzalez’s father, who also appears in the end as her dad, credits his daughter’s experience with mean-spirited people for her developing strength. But he notes that his niña has always been the life of the party. “Since she was a little, if there was a party she wanted to have a microphone; dancing, singing,” Juan Carlos Gonzalez adds. “God gave her that talent of making people smile.”