Editor's Note: Welcome to WEEK 16 of #ChingonaFest Fridays on Aspiring Mama. This week has been full of bad news and raw emotions for so many that I'm incredibly grateful for the chance to welcome the weekend with some Happy. Remember my friend Jesenia the Comedic Actress? We first met at Rick Najera's Almost White book launch in NYC this summer. I immediately fell in love with both Jesenia (and Comedy Girls partner Jenni Ruiza's) brand of Spanglish comedy and decided we were friends, because anyone who can turn "I Feel Pretty" into the brilliant parody that is "I Feel Crampy" is someone I want on my Christmas card list. (Seriously, click the link. Also? You're Welcome.) I consider myself Sort-Of-Almost-Kinda-But-Not-Really-Psychic-Kinda-Like-Sylvia-Brown-But-With-a-Better-Track-Record, so my latching on to The Comedy Girls and their coattails is also a strategic business move. One of us is going to get For Reals Famous eventually...and it's Most Likely Not Me, so I'm playing nice in the sandbox in hopes of solidifying my Inner Circle status with these two. And I was RIGHT! Jesenia is proudly screaming the news of her first commercial all over social media!
The best part is that there's MORE and I'm not even trying to talk you an infomercial vacuum while speaking in my Australian announcer's voice. Jesenia also recently announced partnership with MiTu Network and her Becoming Ricardo web series. MiTu Network is the word's leading Latino-run YouTube channel with over 42 million subscribers and a total viewership of six billion. That's why I'm back with her #chingonafest Friday interview!
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? Vannessa Vasquez and Lori Luna 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 too fancy for a last name. She’s Jesenia the Comedian, and she’s fabulous. A NYC comedian with a penchant for singing hilarious I Feel Pretty parodies about why getting our periods as teenagers is anything but magical, Jesenia is also a character actress, writer, and a producer. (And this is one of those moments where I reread what I just typed and think something along the lines of And She’s Talking to Me? But back to the funny lady…) Jesenia, who is one of the two ladies behind the #StillNoLatinas hashtag created in response to Saturday Night Live being jackholes about diversity, is a master at sketch comedy and fell in love with Improv after training in Second City. She’s also working on a TV Web series called Becoming Ricardo the cohost of The Comedy Girls Radio Show, along with her The Comedy Girls partner Jenni Ruiza (Warning–the link will start singing to you, so hit mute if you’re at work.) Jenni is up on the Fest next week. But right now? Catch up with Jenenia on Twitter and Facebook.
And it’s time for the interview.
Pauline Campos: Chocolate or Vanilla?
Jesenia Comedian: Nothing but Chocolate!
PC: My kind of woman. Except for when I want to make a milkshake. That *has* to be vanilla. Back to you, though — Favorite book (and why)?
JC: “Chris Farley in Three Acts”. Because it inspired me to continue my comedy career and to appreciate and learn from this life journey every single day.
PC: That’s deep. I always think of his SNL skit when I see a van. Down by the river. *sighs wistfully* So, what’s your favorite quote?
JC: “We all live on this big rock headed straight for the sun!”
PC: I totally didn’t see that one coming. But I’ll take it. Now for something different – Do you consider yourself a feminist?
JC: I love and respect being a woman, but I also love and respect men. BUT respect is the key!
PC: Imma gonna go with you on that one. Describe yourself in third person, please.
JC: Jesenia is totally awesome and sexy and fun and super determined in her comedy career. She loves being a Mom and she has a really awesome dimple!
PC: Oh look at you being all cute and modest! I love it. Tell me who inspires you?
JC: – My Grandfather, Bernardino Rolon – who came to NY with only a 3rd grade education level, yet started his own successful carpentry business and provided his family with unlimited luxuries. - My Mother, Sonia Rolon – for raising two children on her own and doing great at it! No matter what we lacked – we never felt it, we always felt RICH! - My Son – for being an amazing soul. For understanding that sometimes Mommies and Daddies are better apart. For helping me appreciate and remember how GREAT it is to be a child and child like! - Chris Farley – for being my comedic inspiration! Because he lived – I found my comedic voice and not take that for granted!
PC: Very nice. Mama and la familia are proud, I’ll bet. Tell me who you hope to inspire.
JC: Women & Men who aspire to do comedy, but feel its impossible to accomplish due to their life circumstances.
PC: Do you dream in color or black and white?
JC: My dreams are more like full Technicolor human cartoons.
PC: We can talk later about your sharing whatever it is you’re taking. My dreams suck. Next! Let’s play word association. I say CHINGONA and you say…?
PC: You guessed the secret password. That means you’re allowed back on my blog. How do you feel about Latinas and how we are represented in the media? JC: We are represented in a very inaccurate way. It’s a shame because this is the year 2014 – but it makes sense because we have never really DEMANDED a correct representation. I strongly feel the only way we will be accurately represented is if we ALWAYS represent ourselves. i.e.: writing, directing, acting. Nobody can misconstrue what you say yourself.
PC: SING IT, SISTER! Accountability for everyone! Quick! One takeaway you want your children to hold onto after they’ve grown and flown the nest…
JC: Always aim for happiness because you will never regret anything you are happy about.
PC: One childhood memory that has stuck with you…
JC: Oh my goodness, there are so many! Of course only the bad ones come to my mind right away – but I will not shed any dirty laundry here! My mother would kill me! LOL!!! So, I would have to say…… when I was a little girl, I enjoyed dressing up like a clown and going shopping with my mother. She would always humor me and paint my face and let me wear my rainbow stripped and polka dot dress! I remember feeling so happy watching people look at me and smiling. I’ve always enjoyed making people smile! I guess that is why I ultimately chose comedy – it’s a beautiful thing!
PC: Do you think in English, Spanish, or Spanglish? JC: I think in English. Except when I am angry – I think in Spanish curses!
PC: I learned what “Hijo de la Chingada Madre” means when my tio got cut off on the freeway by another driver when I was a kid. Now when it happens to me, without fail, I hear “HIJO DE LA CHINGADA MADRE” followed by a heavily-accented “Son of a BEEEEETCH!” *Sighs* Good times….What’s your favorite dish? Why? JC: I love Lasagna because it’s delicious and full of three of my favorite things – meat, pasta and cheese – I love cheese!
PC: I love it when the answer isn’t wrapped in a tortilla. Speaking of which, do you feel “Latina enough”?
JC: I sure do! I’ve always been very proud of my Puerto Rican heritage. I am second generation here and although my Spanish sucks – I am very proud of my people. Also, I like to give the excuse that I am made up of: Taino Indian, African, Spaniard, French and Irish, but I was born and raised in America…….. soooooo – I know my language.
PC: 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?
JC: Of course I would choose Chris Farley! We would eat Lasagna, We would drink a Californian Pinot Noir. He would be the perfect person to pick his brain and I’d ask him if I am making him proud. I secretly talk to him all the time, so I’d ask if he was listening.
PC: I think there’s medication for that. Do you chew your ice cream? (Or is that just a Me thing?)
JC: I totally chew it! True CHUBBY fo life, son!
PC: I think I love you. Wait…did you just call me chubby, Gorda? *raises eyebrow* Gimme one Latina stereotype you despise?
JC: That we are all Mexican!
PC: But we ARE. Obviously, you missed the memo, Maria. One Latina stereotype you embrace (or is there one?)
JC: That we’re all MAGNIFICENT in bed. Because, well…. not to toot my own horn but – TOOT TOOT baby!
PC: You may have just answered the last question, but let’s give it a shot, shall we? Describe your perfect day.
JC: Waking up (of course), heading to my own TV studio for a half day of filming my #1 TV sketch show on FOX, that I produce and also perform in. I’d tell you the name of my sketch show, but I know someone will steal it, so you will find that out when I get my show on the air. Then a 4 hour writing session with my writers. Then home to my amazing son, husband and brand new baby for dinner and good times! Each day lived that way – would be perfection!
And there ya have it. To nominate a Latina for a future #ChingonaFest Friday feature, email me at email@example.com 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Who like Pretty Pictures? I’m #MexicaninMaine on Etsy and have more art available on Society6. And because it’s actually relevant, check out my Zazzle and Etsy shops for Sassy #ChingonaFest gear! More designs and products coming soon!
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