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In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month

September 15 to October 15 is celebrated nationwide as National Hispanic Heritage Month, honoring the cultures and contributions of both Hispanic and Latino Americans and celebrating heritage rooted in all Latin American countries. Community Engagement Manager Oswaldo Pereira recently sat down with Witch cast members Gina Fonseca and Javier David Padilla to discuss their heritage and the experience of being Latinx in the performing arts industry. 


Gina Fonseca

NAME Gina Fonseca, she/her

ROLE Winnifred

HOMETOWN
Miami, Florida

Gina is Cuban-American, born & raised in Miami. Gina’s parents were Cuban refugees who sought to escape Castro’s revolutionary government, and in his early 30s Gina’s father, along with a group of friends, built a raft and sailed the treacherous Straits of Florida with the hope of landing in the United States. He was saved by the US Coast Guard, gained citizenship years later, and was subsequently able to bring Gina’s sister home to Miami.

Miami, with its broad offering of Latinx cuisine, grocery stores, music, and culture, served as a channel through which she maintained an attachment to her Cuban heritage as she navigated the American landscape and culture. Gina's first understanding of being Hispanic didn’t manifest itself until she left the immersive Latin-American experience that is Miami and arrived at Boston University. It was at BU, surrounded by a sea of varying bodies that Gina first realized she was different; that she was but one of a few Hispanic students at the University. It was there that she gained an appreciation for her ethnicity. She describes her college experience as “a very new experience to me because everyone is Latino around me in Miami. Going through an arts program and really finding my voice as a Latina creative, I've just become really empowered by my identity. And now I consciously carry with me into all new environments I walk into. And I really just I love it. I love being Latina.”

Gina’s favorite Latinx artist is Mexican-American playwright Tanya Selene Saracho due to her creative track record of bringing attention queer voices and bodies, and her creative activism in reshaping how Hollywood appreciates Latinx voices and stories, a quality Gina strives to echo through her own career. 

 

Javier David Padilla

NAME Javier David Padilla, he/him

ROLE Frank Thorney

HOMETOWN
Fresno, California

Javier is a Mexican-American. He was born into a Spanish speaking household, in Fresno, California. Javier’s grandmother – being anxious about the debilitating nature of not speaking the dominant language of the land – forbade his use of his native tongue in favor of wholly adopting the English language for the sake of staying in sync with the educational progress of his English-speaking peers. And thus, Javier understood from an early age that being ethnically Hispanic was considered an inherently inferior quality within the American landscape. In retrospect Javier empathizes with his grandmother’s self-sacrificial decision, and he credits the women in his family for providing him the opportunity to succeed in America all the while maintaining connection to his Mexican roots via the food, music, and the matriarchal structure of his household.

Javier’s earliest recollection of self-realizing as a Hispanic person was at the age of 13. As a teenager Javier’s grandmother would take him to the local country club to compete in tennis tournaments, it was here, floating in a sea of affluence, that Javier understood that he was ethnically and socially different from those around him, unlike the high school he attended that was very racially diverse. Today, thriving in his acting career Javier describes the landscape of the performing arts to be like the country club he used to compete in as a teenager, “I believe only two percent of Hispanic playwrights have had plays on Broadway for the last decade! And I just think that needs to change. Our voices just need to be heard and represented a little more.”


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