Before she scored her role on "OITNB," Polanco couldn't help but wonder if her Afro-Latina features were holding her back.
"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.’"
She soon realized, though, that her gorgeous features should be celebrated — *never* hidden.
"For [my features] to not be accepted as something that can
be represented in a film or in such a way that it’s ‘acceptable,’ it’s
offensive," Polanco declared.
"I love myself. I love myself enough to know that I’m as important as anyone else out there."
But unfortunately, Polanco works in an industry that still doesn't value the diversity and richness of ALL Latinx cultures.
"When I look at all these articles, these magazines ... I don't see a Latino in it. I see [everyone is] Black or white," she sighed. "Like, ‘All the Powerful Women of Hollywood’ and I don’t see not one Latina in it ... It’s like, ‘If you’re gonna have one, you can only have one. You can’t have a couple. You can’t acknowledge [multiple] people.’ ... It’s disappointing, as an actor, not to see that. We have so much culture, and such richness, and we bring so much life.”
However, she's doing her part to encourage other Latinas to love every ounce of their beautiful selves.
“Every day, I am learning how to love myself more," Polanco said. "Something I really am 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 really self-analyze and to say, 'I love myself.’"
She concluded, "I just want my fans to walk with me in this.”