It’s been a longer road coming for Dascha Polanco. The Orange Is The New Black actress told Vivala on Monday (June 12) that she’s developed insecurities due to pressures from Hollywood to conceal her Afro-Latina identity.
Polanco admits to doing “one of the DNA things” and getting her results back and discovering that she’s from the Iberian Peninsula and 31 percent of her genetic make-up tracks back to African country, Mali. Upon discovering the history of her DNA and realizing how much of it was visible to the naked eye, she couldn’t help but wonder if her natural identity was what was holding her back from securing roles.
“I just thought, ‘Oh my God, if only I had lighter eyes. If only I had lighter hair. If only I was skinny. Oh my God, if I was a size 0, I know I would get more work. I could play an Italian right now! This is why you’re not getting a job.”
The OITNB inmate reveals that Hollywood is looking for “fake latinas,” as she admits that when going after a Latinx role, she was told she looked “too Latina.”
“We have to be ‘Fake Latina’. And here’s the thing about ‘Fake Latinas’ – when you look at Latinas who are succeeding in Hollywood, they’re super thin and you really can’t tell if she’s Latina or not.” – Dascha Polanco
Even though the craft she chose sometimes offends her by labeling her identity unacceptable, she’s finding ways to embrace and love herself—and spread the #SelfLovery around.
“Every day, I am learning how to love myself more. Something I’m working on is #SelfLovery. This is this whole project that I’m working on where we’re including men and women, to just take a moment to self-analyze and just say, ‘I love myself.’”
And she’s bringing her fans to “walk with [her] in this.”