Welcome to WEEK 7 of #ChingonaFest Fridays on Aspiring Mama! I’m knee-deep in Plan & Ideas for a possible #Chingonafest retreat/workshop and would love any idea you may have. Send ‘em my way at email@example.com!
If you’re new to the blog, here’s the link to the my Latina Dimelo column that sparked the conversation that’s still going strong. The premise is this: I want to raise my daughter to be a Chingona — on purpose, Las Tias and cultural backlash be damned. If you like the column, I’d love for you to share with your social media circles, leave a comment on the link, or whip up a happy lil’ Letter to the Editor telling them how you feel and send it off to Editor@Latina.com. You may not think that kind of thing makes a difference, but trust me when I tell you that it does.
Have you checked out my past #ChingonaFest ladies? Jesenia the Comedian and Sugar Jones and were two of the most recently featured wonder women. 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.
Today’ featured Chingona is the Other Half of last week’s Chingona Awesome. Jenni Ruiza and Jesenia the Comedian make up The Comedy Girls and I cannot begin to tell you how hilarious these two ladies are. (Fair warning — the link will SING to you so if you’re at work, hit mute first. Also? Jenni? Imma looking at you, lady. We’re totally fixing that. But back to the Chingona thing…)
Jenni is a NYC-based Latina actor and writer. She began her professional career in January of 2011 where she worked on her first comedic short with FunnyorDie.com and ConanorBust.com. That was the same year she signed on as a writer and featured player for the sketch comedy show “AY QUE FUNNY” created by Jesenia: The Comedic Actress. Now, Jenni is co-writer and producer for BECOMING RICARDO, a hilarious webTV sitcom debuting this year. Jenni also performs musical improv with The LocoMotives around NYC and co-hosts COMEDY GIRLS, a radio show discussing everything from relationships to comedy on BlogTalkRadio. She is also a contributor for Alicia Menendez’s Tonight on Fusion (An ABC/Univision joint venture) and can be found as a recurring panelist on the show.
And now for the interview!
Pauline Campos: Chocolate or Vanilla?
Jenni Ruiza: Chocolate all day! (All night!)
PC: My kind of lady. Favorite book (and why)?
JR: ”The Comedy Bible” is my favorite book right now because I’m in the middle of revamping my stand-up set. Actually, when I was in my teens – Joy Schtick by Joy Behar was one of my favorite books, not only because she totally sent it to me with a note, but because it was a story about a woman’s journey into comedy as a means to get out of her everyday life. I felt like I related to that, even at that age.
PC: I was reading Stephen King at 12. I think this says more about me than I want to get into right now. So, what’s your favorite quote?
JR: “It’s not a bad life, just a bad day”. I seriously have to say that to myself whenever I step on an NYC train.
PC: Can I borrow that? I may tattoo it backwards on my forehead. It’s okay. You can think about it. Do you consider yourself a feminist?
JR: Yes! But not an extreme feminist, which there is absolutely such a thing. I do believe fully in women’s rights and equality between genders. But I’m also an independent woman who is a little old-fashioned. Is that an oxymoron?
PC: Nope. Well, not to me. But I refuse to burn my bras. *Points to DDDs* Describe yourself in third person, please.
JR: Jenni is really quiet…surprisingly quiet…wait, she’s a performer, right? Oh, okay, there she goes – she’s speaking. Nope, she’s quiet again. Wait a minute here, I’m confused. Maybe she’s hungover.
PC: Oooooohhhh I LOVE mysteries! Maybe it was the maid in the billiard room with the candlestick! No? Okay, then. It was just the 3rd margarita. Tell me who inspires you?
JR: – My parents inspire me. They have equally been through rough journeys that I would’ve never imagined anyone to come out with while maintaining a smile. I’ve watched them all of my life grow a love that is stronger and are people who are completely comfortable in themselves. My parents have been through a lot! It’s really kind of crazy – but one moment I’ll always keep with me was the first improv show I had and my mom said at the end, “it’s a special gift when you can take someone away from the everyday and make them laugh.”
ALSO, Jesenia (my best friend, sister, comedic-partner in crime) inspires me. I look up to her a great deal because she’s an insanely strong woman, an amazing mom, and just an all-around beautiful person. She’s that annoying older sister I’ve always wanted and was lucky enough to choose. She helps me maintain sanity – I get some of my best advice from her and she’s changed my life in a way I can’t even begin to explain. I can’t imagine my life without these three people.
PC: I feel the love. LET’S SINK KUMBAYA IN ROUNDS!!!! What? Why are you looking at me like that? Never mind. Tell me who you hope to inspire.
JR: My future daughter. Those shy girls who are too nervous to do what they love.
PC: I like that. Also? Remind me not to tell you about how I cried buckets when the ultrasound tech told me I had a girl in my belly-panza. I don’t wanna freak you out about the lil’ milestone none of the parenting experts bother mentioning in which little girls saol past bratty and right into bitchy. YOU WILL LOVE MOTHERHOOD AND…NEVER MIND. I’m shutting up now. Do you dream in color or black and white?
JR: I dream in movies. Either amazing dreamscapes, action films, or horrors. That kind of says a lot about me!
PC: *blinks* Maybe we are spirit animals! Let’s play word association. I say CHINGONA and you say…?
JR: Hashtag badass! Seriously, well-behaved women rarely make history. Another favorite quote!
PC: Now you’re just trying to make sure you stay on my good side for when I am actually famous and not just self-inflated and delusional. It’s working. How do you feel about Latinas and how we are represented in the media?
JR: We’ve got a long way to go. Our growth starts at the beginning; if we can learn how to support one another unconditionally without feeling the need to criticize, then we’ll be well on our way to a natural progression. As far as the actual representation in the media, I really have yet to see someone on TV that I can relate to with my kind of background and upbringing, but I still have hope that it’ll someday be on the big screen for the world to see.
PC: I’m waiting for you and Jesenia to have your own show and Lorne Michaels to admit he should have paid attention earlier. Quick! One takeaway you want your children to hold onto after they’ve grown and flown the nest…
JR: Follow the fear in life – it leads you to places unimaginable, and you learn a whole hell of a lot about yourself if you just go and do!
PC: Damn, girl. That’s DEEP. Okay, maybe you ARE cut out to raise a girl. She’ll have one hell of a mommy to lead her on the right path. NEXT! One childhood memory that has stuck with you…
JR: I snuff off to a lot of places…because I was a tinge smothered BUT one epic moment was when I disappeared in an amusement park to ride the tallest ride and by the time my parents found me, I was waiting on the line for the second time. They called me by my government name and all I could say was, “What’d I do?” I wasn’t a very good kid.
PC: *Falls on floor laughing* By your “Government name?’ That is so may kinds of awesome you don’t even know. Do you think in English, Spanish, or Spanglish?
JR: I think in grammatically incorrect sentences filled with a bunch of euphemisms and words that I like to pretend I know and use in completely incorrect contexts.
PC: *jaw drops* ARE WE THE SAME FUCKING PERSON?? omg! What if we are the Latina Orphan Black only not identical and totally not clones but equally fabulous and…Okay, you can stop begging. It’s embarrassing. The Answer is yes. We can work together so you can ride my coattails. NEXT! What’s your favorite dish? Why?
JR: My favorite dish in the whole wide world is my mom’s eggplant parm. She kills it! Every. Single. Time. Second favorite is Jesenia’s spaghetti. I mean, good grief! THIRD, because I need to have three is my own dish – tilapia francaise.
PC: You get a pony for not saying tacos. Do you feel “Latina enough”?
JR: I’m fully Latina although if you heard me speak, I guess you would think otherwise. I’m just a different breed – I really do not know why I sound the way I do. But, you can’t tell me I’m not Latina enough. I’m 100% Puerto Rican, boo!
PC: And you’re adorable. Especially when you are playing a hoodrat in an I Feel Pretty parody. New Scenario: You have the chance to eat dinner and drink wine with one person, living or dead. Who is it, what do you eat, what kind of wine, AND WHY THAT PARTICULAR PERSON?
JR: Meryl Streep, hands down. I have such an affinity for that woman. We would absolutely binge eat Italian food and gin – Meryl Streep is just an enigma in the acting world. She is who I want to be for the straight person in comedy.
PC: I need to go read a dictionary to feel smarter now. Do you chew your ice cream? (Or is that just a Me thing?)
JR: I chew it for the pure fear of choking. Because it has happened…several times.
PC: Right. Three Words- Orphan Black. bitches, Gimme one Latina stereotype you despise?
JR: We are not all angry!!!!!! DAMN IT!
PC: WHO THE HELL SAYS WE’RE ANGRY? Maria, hold my baby. I’ve got some ass to kick. One Latina stereotype you embrace (or is there one?)
JR: That we’re all exotic. I mean, why the hell not?
PC: I’ll take that. Describe your perfect day.
JR: Not having to go to a day-job. Natch. But, seriously, my perfect day is filled with comedy and love. I’d wake up, have a gig that I’d go to and then spend the rest of the day with loved ones. And then have a gin and tonic…or two…or three…and NOT have a hangover. Now, that is the perfect day.
And there ya have it. To nominate a Latina for a future #ChingonaFest Friday feature, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet e with the hashtag #ChingonaFest. And don’t forget to check out my latest Dimelo Advice column on Latina Magazine and be sure to send me your questions to email@example.com.
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