Dominican singer, model and actress Amara La Negra lives for performing, for giving the people something to remember her by. It’s the kind of stuff that feeds her soul and keeps her black woman self moving in a male-dominated industry. Yet Amara, whose music has become increasingly popular even in a Caribbean nation overflowing with racism, refuses to be eclipsed by the overwhelming whiteness that notoriously exists in spheres of music and entertainment.
READ: Growing Up Latina With Nina Sky
In a time where the state of U.S. born Latinos has reached a tipping point, La Negra is proudly rocking her ‘fro, twerking her ample backside and wearing her ebony skin, so unapologetically it’s utterly swoon-worthy. Get to know what it was like growing up Amara, back home near Allapattah, Miami.
Unforgettable childhood memory:
Every Sunday, when my mom was off work, she would love to cook and clean. She would put on some loud ass music – Juan Luis Guerra, Celio Vargas – and throw water around the house, on the walls, the floor and just go at it. It was a very Latin thing to do, a very Spanish cultural thing that she did. And she would cook mangu, queso frito, salami, and be dancing and mopping all over the place.
Favorite home cooked dish:
Well, my mom is a chef. So her cooking skills are banging. She’s awesome. And because I’m so accustomed to the fast lifestyle and it’s rare I get to home cooked meals, I love my mangu, queso frito, carne guisada, and what we Dominicans call la bandera — arroz, habichuelas,y la carne (rice, beans, and meat).
Craziest Hispanic proverb as told by mami or abuela:
“Mas hace el que quiere que el que puede,” which essentially refers to the power of will. “She who will does more than she who can.”
Che Guevara moment (greatest moment of rebellion):
So, you know how in school they used to teach you that if your parents hit you, you’re supposed to call 911? I remember this one time, I was probably like 8-years old, and I had the balls to tell my mom, “If you touch me, I’m going to call the police on you!” Oh, my God. This lady got that phone and hit me so hard with that phone – I think she popped my lip – and then she handed me the phone and yelled, “Go ahead and call!” It’s one of those things I’ll never forget. I’m sure plenty of Latino children have similar memories. [Laughs]
Mi gente “El Tiempo de Dios Es Perfecto!” Le Doy Gracias a Dios Todos los dias Por permitirme Ser parte de Este Programa y de Este Canal. No te puedes perder @elpalenqueshow de @enriquesantos por #Unimas #UnivisionPR #Venevision En Puerto Rico 4PM por @UnivisionPR en USA 5PM/4C por @Unimas en Venezuela 6PM por @venevision y Colombia por #VmasTV @glitztv @cisnerosmedia @enriquesantos #ElPalenqueShow #AmaraLaNegra @haroldradio @guadalupeactor ( My boo looking all serious like his working lol 😜 @djxtreme1 )
I first saw myself as Latina when…
From the get-go. My mom doesn’t speak any English, so I was obligated to speak Spanish at home, whether I wanted to or not. It was the only way we could communicate. I would speak Spanish at home, English at school, and, at times, I would speak Spanglish altogether. But I took special classes for my diction, and she had her own home remedy where she would stick a pencil on my tongue and make me read aloud the newspaper in Spanish, which I hated. I say all that to say, I knew I was Latina fairly young. At the end of the day, I’m grateful for the way she raised me and the things she instilled in me. It’s made me the Dominican-American I am today.
Chupacabra or El Cuco:
My mom never really scared me with the whole El Cuco thing. I mean, I did hear about it, of course. It’s not something she would entertain, though. In fact, I think she was El Cuco growing up. [Laughs] This chancleta is El Cuco. [Laughs] Yea, that’s my mom.
READ: Dominican Artist Amara La Negra Is Unapologetic About The Skin She’s In
Poor man’s meal:
Let me tell you, a lot of people got me confused. People see me and think that because I’m famous and have a fat ass and got a few fans – this is what they tell me – that my life was always like this. It was not. I came from the very bottom. I was raised in a single-parent home, where my mom worked up to four jobs to maintain us. It took a lot for her to maintain, not only the household, but the arts programs I was enrolled in. There were times where all we had was rice. There were times where we didn’t even have the eggs, just rice. Or sometimes, we had the Ramen soup.
Oh, yeaaaa. That Vicks Vapor Rub, how we say, vivaporu, that’s the fixer-upper! Your head hurts? Vivaporu. Your nose is running? My mom would get that vivaporu and shove it up there. She would rub it on my back, on my chest, on the bottom of feet! No, no, no… [Laughs] What a trip. Oh, and another one was Agua de Florida. It’s a small bottle of this cologne. It’s high in alcohol concentration. My mom would rub that in the back of my neck – anything could be wrong. Take the out the Agua de Florida!
Salsa, Bachata or Reggaeton?
I’m very open minded when it comes to music. I love salsa, bachata, reggaeton. I like a little bit of everything. I think as an artist, it’s important for me to be open-minded about the variety of music that’s around the world, not just what’s on the radio. There is kuduro, there is soca, Brasilian funk, jazz, blues – besides the music we’re used to from our popular culture. In my household, we listen to a little bit of everything.
Telenovela guilty pleasure:
My mom raised me very Latina, very Cha-Cha. So back in those days, after 7 o’ clock, we had to watch whatever novela was on. We couldn’t miss it. If she had to work, she would take to her VHS and record it. Novela time was our time to bond as mother and daughter. ‘Til this day, it’s something we like to do together. And me and her are the type of people who cry – we cry when we see something intense or emotional. La novela is often a very integral part of the Latino household. It’s a little lost, I think, with all the American series out on TV today, with the living and working lifestyles in the U.S., with technology and whatnot. Before, there was more of that bond, that space to connect.
I have to go with, “Mas hace el que quiere que el que puede!” I live by it.