America Ferrera Dishes On Hollywood White Face, Searching For "A Fucking Good Role"

Gracing the cover of the latest issue of Bust, America Ferrera hangs at a secret tea shop with her homegirl Amber Tamblyn and has an amazingly frank discussion about racism in Hollywood, producing, and the sweetness of swag.

Throughout the interview, Ferrera reflects often on Ugly Betty, the hit show that made her a household name. She won a SAG award, an Emmy, and a Golden Globe for her portrayal of Betty Suarez, but ABC recently opted to cancel the show. In light of the network's decision, some of Ferrera's comments in the interview ("I love the show, but I so hope that at the end of that run, I'll have more to show for it than box sets.") feel strangely prophetic. In spite of this, America is remarkably forward-looking describing many of her goals and future projects.

On Getting Into Acting

When I auditioned for Romeo and Juliet at the junior high, I tagged along with my sisters and I watched what these people were doing, and I was like, "I can do this." I got up and did it, and I got cast in the play as the apothecary. I showed up every day for rehearsal, and I couldn't wait for the performances. I knew that I had found something that was work, but made me feel in the right place.

On Her Feelings After Real Women Have Curves Premiered At Sundance

I'm on top of the world. I can do whatever. Uggs gave me boots for free! This shit is on. I'm here to conquer.


On Hollywood Whiteface

[T]here was a part in this movie with this director who shall remain nameless. It was a story set in Texas about this family, and they weren't sure who they were going to cast as the male role, so they were holding off on the female role, depending on if the male role was Latino or not. They didn't want to put two Latinos in the same movie, because then it would be "a Latino movie." So in my delusional state, I thought if I dyed my hair blond, I could show them that I could play anything. It was obviously very sarcastic: Is it really the color of my skin that's going to stop you from giving me this role I could be really good at? So I stripped my hair. I looked fucking crazy. I only took one Polaroid and I burned it.

Amber Tamblyn: You wore whiteface...

I did! I'm not even kidding! I had such resentment. And that was one of those moments where I just thought, Wow. I didn't even get the chance to fail at that part because of the color of my skin.

On Acting In Her Partner's Film The Dry Land

I had no intention of being in the movie. It wasn't a role I wanted to do until it was perfect. I kept saying to him, "If for no other reason than your girlfriend is an actress trying to look for good roles in this industry, you'd better write a fucking good role for a woman."

On Her New Animated Film, How To Train Your Dragon

AT: [A]nd you play...

A Viking. Who is blond.

AT: You finally got to play a blond girl.

A blond girl with blue eyes and a sick body.

AT: You're like the Latina Precious.

Exactly. The cartoon version of myself is who they wanted to cast in that movie.

AT: That is really fantastic irony.

"America, we loooooove your voice, but we can't make a cartoon that looks like you." [both laugh]


On Being A Producer And Creator

It takes you away from that whiny, "Why aren't there any roles for me?" place to "I'm going to create a path that feels right to me."

Sisterhood Is Powerful [Bust]
Exclusive: ABC Cancels 'Ugly Betty' [EW]