Have you ever wished you had your very own house? Imagine an entire house for just your stuff: your books, your games, your toys. That's the dream that a Hispanic girl named Esperanza has. She wants a house of her own with "nobody's garbage to pick up after."
Esperanza's story is told in "The House on Mango Street" by Sandra Cisneros. A play based on the story is being performed, in English, this weekend at the Kennedy Center. Esperanza tells of her dreams and her culture, but also the difficulties in learning a new language and a new way of life.
Actress Lidia Ramirez, who plays Esperanza, says she has a lot in common with her character. She recently talked to Luz Lazo about Esperanza and her life as a Hispanic actress.
How did you find out you wanted to be an actress?
When I came to this country, television was a big deal. . . . In my country [Dominican Republic], television was not so big of a deal. . . . [With the help of it] I learned English and learned the new culture. I always liked anything that had to do with magic -- it fascinated me. And I also wanted to be rich and famous.
Did you have trouble getting roles because you are Hispanic?
The way we speak and the emphasis we give to the words is different in Spanish. My rhythm is different. This was one of the challenges. I still have to work hard to find the right rhythm.
At the beginning it was a little annoying because the roles written for us [Latinos] were not good enough. It has changed, but still not good enough.
What does it mean to be a Hispanic actress?
I feel like it's an opportunity to get people to know us. We are sassy, we have movement -- though not all Latinos are sassy. I like people to have a better understanding of us, and they get to see it through my art.
Who is Esperanza?
She is such a fighter and she has big dreams and is very hopeful. She reminds me a lot about myself. Sandra Cisneros wrote a real young girl's struggle. And no matter what class you are in, what color you are, in the end we all have the same issues.