When Ferrera was a teenager, she had her first professional audition for a commercial.
"I was this little, brown, chubby valley girl who spoke, you know, like a valley girl," Ferrera, who was born in Los Angeles and is the proud daughter of Honduran immigrants, said in an interview for the 72nd Emmys. "I walked in, did my audition. The casting director looked at me and she was like, 'That's great. Um, can you do that again but this time sound more Latina?"
Ferrera wondered if the casting director was asking her to do the audition in Spanish. "She was like, 'No, no no. Do it in English but just, you know, like, sound more Latina,'" she recalled. "I am a Latina, and this is what I sound like."
Ferrera was dismissed and told her family about the audition. "'They wanted you to speak in broken English,'" she remembered them saying. "'They wanted you to sound like a chola. What did you think was going to happen? They were going to, you know, have you starring in the next role for Julia Roberts?' And I was like, 'Yeah, that is what I thought.'"
But Ferrera didn't let this experience stop her. "That realization for me," she said, "has fueled me to create more opportunity for little brown girls to fulfill their talent and their dream."