Welcome to a new weekly feature on Aspiring Mama. I'm calling it #Chingonafest Fridays because I've added Chingona Cheerleader to my soapbox recently (Mostly by accident but I'm running with it anyway). Each week, I'm featuring one fabulous Latina who's moving mountains and raising hell because their stories are worth telling. Twenty questions will be presented to each and 15 will be answered and presented here to you in a Q&A format, like the fancy features in magazines, only with more typos and less airbrushing. Pili Montilla, an EMMY award-winnig TV host & producer of the music show "Te Para Tres (Tea for Three) with Pili Montilla", decided to make me look good by agreeing to go first. Pili is also an entertainment reporter, actor, blogger, lover of music, and considers herself a "life absorber".
Now it's time to get on with that interview.
Pauline Campos: What's your favorite quote?
Pili Montilla: “Un ‘NO’ te acerca más a un ‘SI’.” (“A ‘NO’ gets you closer to a ‘YES.’) My dad tells me that every time I don’t book a job. It reminds me that a ‘No’ is not equivalent to failure. Instead, this quote teaches me to be patient, that everything happens for a reason and at the perfect time.
PC: Do you consider yourself a feminist?
PM: I’m the youngest of three girls. My mom raised the three of us to be feminists, yet she really doesn’t practice feminism. She’s always depended on my dad and she never pursued a career.
I am certain that for those exact reasons she was so adamant about us finding something we were passionate about and pursue a career around it. My parents have never pushed us to get married or have kids. Quite the opposite! It was very clear that we should grow up to be independent, strong women. They succeeded!
So, I definitely have an inclination towards feminist ideals, but I am pro-equality more than anything else.
PC: Describe yourself in third person...
PM:Pili is a hard working, disciplined Latina who dreams big, but is clear that dreaming is not enough. She knows it takes sweat and tears to make dreams reality. She’s also a bit of a goofball. She makes the weirdest, funniest faces when she’s alone in front of the mirror. She’s opinionated, which has it’s pros and cons and has definitely gotten her into trouble. If there is something Pili feels passionate about, it’s music. This girl LOVES her música! She feels most alive when dancing at a live concert.
PC: Great. You're writing the bio for my book jacket when the time comes. Sounds like you're pretty confident. I like that. Where do you draw that strength from? Who inspires you?
PM: Those who fearlessly go in full pursue of their dreams.
PC: Who is it you hope to inspire?
PM: Through my music show “Té Para Tres con Pili Montilla” I’ve created a space where up-and-coming artists can truthfully open up and tell their story while also sharing their music. It is through their heartfelt stories of failures and triumphs that I hope to inspire others. My biggest reward is getting messages on our Facebook page of fans that have watched the show and tell me that they are back to pursuing their passion because they were inspired by the stories presented on the show.
I hope to continue giving these artists a chance to share their talent with the world. Their work undoubtedly inspires others.
PC: Let's play word association. I say CHINGONA and you say...?
PC: I'll take that and a bag of chips. Speaking of strength,how do you feel about Latinas and how we are represented in the media?
PM: I don’t think we’re represented in the media. At least not in a truthful manner. There is a perception of what Latinas are like that is being represented in the media, but that’s mostly stereotypes of Latinas.
Look at Sofia Vergara for example. Exaggerated accent and curves, fake tan and died hair. Like her, I am a blonde Latina but she has had to dye her hair dark to get more roles. I refuse to do that (¡Y mira que me lo han preguntado!) Why? Because I am not going to succumb to stereotypes. Instead I want to break them.
PC: One childhood memory that has stuck with you...
PM: I was brat when I was 8 years old. I mean, a big time malcriada. I misbehaved that whole year, so instead of los Tres Reyes Magos bringing me a bike, I got “carbón” (charcoals) and a floor full of camel pee.
I learned my lesson.
PC: Sounds like it. I may need to talk to your mother about parenting lessons in being a hardass. And I think I've got the answer to my next question, but I'll ask anyway. Do you think in English, Spanish, or Spanglish?
PM: I’m all over the place. Spanglish is definitely by strongest language (Yup, I am trilingual!) However I usually think In Spanish when speaking in Spanish and in English when speaking inglés.
PC: What's your favorite dish? Why?
PM: Tostones. Why? Two words: Fried plantains.
PC: Do you feel "Latina enough"?
PM: Oh si. I feel super Latina. With this gringa look and all, I am as Latina as Latina’s get. I’ve never ever questioned my “Latinahood”. I’m truly blessed to have been born in Puerto Rico and have been raised in such a colorful and interesting culture.
PC: Do you chew your ice cream? (Or is that just a Me thing?)
PM: I usually chew it, but that’s because I like ice cream with things in it. You know, like Heath Bar crunch, nuts, granola and all that yumminess.
PC: Right. I chew the plain stuff. Ayway....Gimme one Latina stereotype you despise?
PM: That we all have big butts. I’m still waiting for some junk in my trunk.
PC: I'll gift you some of mine. Now for one Latina stereotype you embrace (or is there one?)
PM: Being loud. We let ourselves be noticed. I am extremely proud of being Latina and loud. By nature we are happy people. We love to laugh, dance, drink, eat, have a lot of friends and talk. We are very animated human beings. And we’re loud. AND I LOVE THAT!
PC: Your perfect day.
PM: “Sun is shining, weather is sweet...make you wanna move your dancing feet!” Bob Marley.
And there ya have it. To nominate a Latina for a future #ChingonaFest feature, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet e with the hashtag #ChingoaFest. And don't forget to check out this week's Dimelo Advice column on Latina Magazine (this week's reader wants t know if he dumped her because she wasn't ready for sex)!