Abuela Madrigal is Toxic. And we need to talk about Bruno.

*This is not a movie review, nor a psychology lesson. Read it at your own risk. Contain Spoilers. 

Gio Luna’s art – Image retrieved from Pinterest

Disney strike again. No mercy. They hit first and you spend the next year talking about a cartoon, singing the songs, and quoting the lines of the movie. My husband and I don’t have kids, and yet we watched Encanto two times this week. The songs are so very catchy.

Colombia te quiero tanto!

The movie talks about Maribel and her family Madrigal, the location this time in Colombia. A tragedy happened and Abuela was given a miracle in form of a house, which is almost the main character. A magical house with an important part in keeping the family together. As it gives every family member special powers, to keep the Encanto between the walls and each other. Spoiler alert – except Maribel.

During the first scene of the movie, Mirabel is singing about Familia Madrigal, she presents the family powers, like her sisters, cousins, aunt, uncles until she says “Bruno” being reprehended with “With don’t talk about Bruno”. She moves on with her song and the kids, who are listening to her, start asking what is her special power.

Ignoring your problems is a way to go.

Mirabel keeps pretending she is not listening, while the little boy with coffee goes crazy. The song is so upbeat and the scene so colorful, which makes you want to dance. Later that day, we find out why they were all getting ready and the house ready. Her little cousin will find out what powers he will have, and he is terrified of ending up like Maribel since she was the last one to be gifted with nothing.

A very emotional flashback scene showed us what happened that night. Mirabel didn’t get any special gifts and her door vanished. So abuelita started to treat her differently.

We all got gifts, but you are just an ordinary girl.

From this particular scene where the little boy is gifted the power of listening to animals, Mirabel finally catches all the feelings of not being perfect and having any abuela’s approval, whatsoever. She is the outcast, the random one, and the one who doesn’t seem to matter in abuela’s eyes.

What Mirable represents until now is a crack in the perfect house. The crack that might break the Encanto. So Grandma becomes very snappy with her, without seeing what Mirable is going through. No mercy.

The house cracks because of Abuela’s toxicity.

Disney is notorious for making us look at our own life while watching the movies and relating in many different forms. It’s no different with Encanto. The Latino culture representativeness in this movie is very real.

The toxicity of the older generations, which require us some level of perfection, tend to blame the younger relatives for not succeeding and push them over the limit of existence. Our culture always shows us that we have to be perfect in our family’s eyes, otherwise, we are going to end up like Bruno.

If you are Latino and you were never compared to some distant cousin, because they seem to have their lives together and you don’t, you are lucky. We are constantly overshadowed by someone that does it better when you just want to live your life without other relatives’ expectations of you.

It’s your life, make the most of it. Get out of the bubble of expectations about you

So what if you want to go to Cosmetology school and your cousin is going to be a doctor? Have you ever asked if deep down inside that’s something that she is passionate about, or if she is just doing because society and family things this is some type of status? We have a lot of that in Brazil.

I decided very early I wanted to leave my country. One, I wanted to go to Hollywood and be a child bride to Leo Dicaprio. Two at a very early age, I had to learn about expectations. I was not good at anything, except writing. I was not good with science, physics, or math.

I was terrible at school and my only way out to succeed in life was to escape my country. If I’m going to fail in life, at least no one will see it and yell about my mistakes in my face. I left because I didn’t feel like being judged about my choices and being made fun of. Much like Bruno, I had to find a way to live my life without judgment and meanness.

Abuela sent her own son to exile.

Abuela Madrigal made her point to exclude Bruno because she was scared that he would break the Encanto, as everything he was predicting was becoming true on different occasions, and they were not good things. So when the same thing starts to happen with Mirable, she freaks out.

Abuela has this protection for the house, she is so afraid to lose it, that she ditches people when they don’t turn out as she expects. Understandably, her whole life revolves around that house, to the point of excluding her son, for being afraid of losing the Encanto.

We have to talk about Bruno.

When we are finally introduced to Bruno, we start to realize what the heck happened for him to be exiled. By Abuela. Bruno seems to be ok where he is now because he also doesn’t want to disappoint his family, so he finds a way to be around, but not present.

He then explains to Maribel what happened and what needs to be done to fix the cracks in the house. Mirable goes after what he said, but the house still crumbles. So Abuela Madrigal, falling apart, in tears, finally reveals why she has been toxic this entire time.

It’s nobody’s fault what happened to you, Abuela, be nice.

She lost everything and she was afraid of losing it again, she was given a miracle and she wanted to keep it. Then finally realizes why she has been so snappy and like almost any matriarch from a Latino household, controlling and obsessive with something she won’t possibly be able to fix.

Giving her undivided attention and preaching to people that goes with what she is saying. With all that, we also have Mirabel’s older sisters, Luiza and Isabel. Luiza has the gift of being stronger and Isabel has the gift of beautiful flowers or perfection.

Abuela loves it and wants her to get married, in an arranged married, by Abuela. Isabel buys the idea, but then we see she is also not happy, she struggles to be perfect. She just doesn’t want to disappoint the matriarch and end up like Bruno. Luiza thinks her only worth is to be strong and help the family. She also struggles when she starts to lose her gift.

What you see is not always what you get.

The entire movie is based on the premise of “what you see is what you get”, when it isn’t. Some people live throughout their entire lives afraid of disappointing people, afraid of being judged by their choices, agreeing to be submissive just to get by.

A perfect house foundation crumbles when is all a facade. We all struggle with something, we all like to be better at something or to showcase our talents without being judged. We already have the internet and Twitter for that Abuela, you need to be a haven, not make it worse.

My family throws shade at me for different reasons.

I don’t have any siblings, so I cannot relate to the movie on this level, but I do face the guilt-tripping from my mom does for the fact that I’m the only daughter and I’m there to be by her side as she gets older.

This is my burden. Not being around my parents as they get older. My mom always throws some shades at me and tells me she wishes she had someone to go with her to doctor appointments.

It’s a movie for kids, but the main theme is not. It’s for grownups for sure. Kids will like the music and the colors, adults will cry and question why is Abuela so toxica and they are never good enough.

Let me know in the comments if you watched the movie and how can relate to it.

Happy New Year!

Stay healthy, stay safe.

Old SitComs that inspired me to study ScreenWriting

The SitComs that made me want to be a TV writer and how my American dreams were builded as those stories represented America for me at that time.

I’m absolutely a sucker for American Situation Comedies, the Sitcoms. Back in 2002, when we first got cable on TV, I used to spend hours and hours, just enjoying my time with the shows and trying to understand the jokes.

I loved my TV so much, I got to retake my second year of High School, because instead of studying, I watched tv endlessly.  The “Canned Goods” type of Sitcom, as my mom used to say. What she meant was the comedy shows that had all the same format, and the laughs at the end of each joke.

At that time, I had just started English Classes. Years later, when I applied for Creative Writing School, that’s what I intended to learn, how to write scripts and develop a show was always on my mind. 

On Creative Writing For the Entertainment Bussiness, at Full Sail University, we had two classes on Writing for TV, and on the first one, the teacher asked us, what we would like to write. We had two choices: Drama, which is about 60 minutes, or Comedy, which is about 30 minutes.

The first thing we learned was 1 minute on screen is equivalent to 1 page of the script. So I had no doubts I would choose Comedy for an array of different reasons. 

First, I watched plenty of Multi-Camera shows my entire life, and I still do. Second, all the shows are based on the same premises. It’s either a family, a group of friends, a workplace environment, a school/college. It’s easier to develop something you are familiar with.

The teacher gave us a few options to write a spec script, based on a show that was on the air, and my choice was Brooklyn 99. Even though it’s not multi-camera, it falls in all the comedy categories.

TV writing or Web series writing is what I enjoy doing, besides the writing for tv classes being very demanding; when I visited New York Film Academy Film School, I understood why. It’s all business. They will crush your ideas and dreams to make it profitable for them.  

Years and years of watching the same type of show gave me some type of comfort and authority when I talk about it. When I decided to write this post, I knew, on the top of my head, the shows that I wanted to write about. One thing I realize after quickly coming up with the list, is all the shows have almost the same premises. The broken American Dream, lived by Americans itself. I never understood because all I could see was how good those characters had. 

These shows are also older, your chances to remember them are greater if you are over 30. 

According to Jim (2001-2009) 

Jim Belushi as a nonchalant dad was really on point. Jim is a suburban dad and raises a family in a Chicago suburb. “According to Jim”, is also based on family structure and it was on air for 8 seasons from 2001 to 2007. Married to Cheryl, Jim, and has to deal also with her two chaotic siblings Dana and Andy. Who are always there to plot something against him. As the show developed its season, we see the older girl, Ruby becoming a teen, the dialogues between her and Jim are sharp. As in the scenes between Gracie and her uncle Andy. 

That was one of the first sitcoms I’ve ever watched, until that point it was all Friends and Full House reruns.

Gilmore Girls (2001- 2007) 

I’m not crying, you crying.

Definitely not a SitCom, but a show that wroth sharing. Rory’s passions for books, Lorelai references for all the pop culture, and the idea that love conquers all, as long as you have each other. I’ve been watching Gilmore Girls since 2002, and yes, I’m team, Jess. This is the kind of show that even nothing happens on the episode, I’d still watch it. The characters are so compelling that you could just watch the dialogue unfolds without thinking about what’s next. I learned at writing school, that you don’t need to show much information on the characters, more is less. You just have to show a good and dynamic dialogue. Make the audience participate like a friend, who is watching but can’t be heard. 

Everybody Loves Raymond (1996-2005)

My mother in law said she didn’t want glasses like mine, because she didn’t want to look like a Witch. 🧐 I wish I was kidding.

The show is really funny, but then you realize you are living it, it kinds messes you up. Ray’s overprotective mom, Marie, who lives across the street, the dad who seems to be living on a planet of his own, a dumb brother, and Ray’s wife, Debra, in the middle of all that. The show is hilarious and shows these family problems that we try get over it, but most of the time, we just have to deal with them.  

8 simple rules (for dating my teenage daughter) (2002-2005)

A dad and his teenage daughters, navigating the nuances of having to deal with all the discoveries and all the drama that goes inside of the house, during those years. Kayle Cuoco’s Bridget, give me the idea of the spoiled American teenager, full of privileges. While her sister was the Ugly Duckling.

The actor who played the dad, John Ritter, died at the beginning of the second season, of a heart attack and after that, they couldn’t go much further with the story. The show ended at the end of the third season, after recasting David Spade as the cousin and Cate’s dad, played by James Garner. I don’t think I finished watching the last season, because in Brazil, sometimes the tv cable didn’t buy it to be exhibit there.  

Grounded for Life (2001-2005)

Again, a show about an American family, who had kids at a young age, and struggle to raise them. Watching it in Brazil, I saw them having a great life. I rather am poor in America than in my own country. The show had a typical American family, that balance it off each other, has a sneaky and hilarious older daughter, creating all the storyline for the show.

How young parents, raise kids with the help of other family members. The uncle, the grandpa, and the neighbors. I will never forget the episode where Lily, the daughter, found some herbs and thought it was weed. She smokes it while her parents worry, watching her thinking she is getting high when she is smoking basil.  

Jane The Virgin (2014-2019)

The most inspiring Latinxs tv show from the past years. They broke barriers, and Gina Rodrigues gave Jane the most authentic Latina character I’ve ever seen. We usually see the Latino community represented in a specific way, always with certain mannerisms and cliche acting. Jane the Virgin just shows us that it’s possible to write those characters without being derogatory.

The undocumented immigrant grandma, Jane’s mom Xiomara and Jane, who through all the chapters showed how to find love, keep the love, lose the love, while trying to find ways to make it on a writing career. The show episodes are told in Chapter, like a Novella, adding absurdity, dramatic flashbacks, and montages. Rogerio, Jane’s father as the eccentric telenovela superstar.

When Abuelita told her story and why she remained undocumented after all those years, I cried. It hits too close to home. 

American family structured and how it was portrayed

I guess what I was missing while watching all those shows was family structure. That’s probably why I got obsessed with it. Not until much later, TV started showing different families, and what they are consisted of. In my teenage years, my mom and my dad were broken up and my dad lived in a different State. My aunt lived with me and my mom, so she could help to raise me, and with the bills. My family structure was different. 

Do you have an old show that you keep coming back to? Let me know in the comments what influenced your writing style!

Stay cool! Stay healthy!


The train wreck that is 90 day Fiancee – Part 1

Imagine yourself going on vacation to spend a few days with your girlfriends at the beach, soaking in the sun, drinking, enjoying your free time. When you get there, you meet a guy/girl, falls immediately in love with the stranger. You guys spend the next days in a romantic cloud before you leave back home to America, he proposes. You say yes, to the person you met 5 days ago and decided to apply for a K1 fiancee visa. You decided you will marry the stranger you met on an island and you guys will live happily ever after. That’s the entire premises of the TLC 90 day fiancee show and that’s only the beginning of the chaotic life the couples will have ahead of them. 

I couldn’t write a better script. 

 I started watching 90-day Fiancee about 3 years ago when a friend told me about it. I was instantly hooked. As an immigrant, I could resonate a lot with the cast, in terms of, what we have to go through to get here, and getting adapted to live in the United States is the same. Finding love abroad and make it work on the motherland it’s not necessarily an easy path to follow. The show generated multiple conversations with my American husband while trying to show him that is exactly how a foreigner feels, while they arrive in a different country. 

The TLC big hit generated a good amount of spin-off, such as Before the 90 days, when the couples travel just to meet each other and figure out if they actually are what they say they are, or a complete nutcase all together. 90-day fiancee “Happily ever after?”, follow some of the most popular couples after the marriage, or the divorce, like it was the Larissa and Coltiee case. Recently TLC released 90 days – the other way, with the Americans traveling to live abroad with their significant other. Its highly entertaining to see these people trying to figure out life in a country where there is no toilet, no A/C, a lot of os mosquitos, and no running water. Big Ed showering with the rat in the Philippines is one for the books. Four ft nine Ed was already bothered by every single thing he encountered, Rose and her 4-year-old son were living in extremely poor conditions, sharing a house with her entire family, with her dad and sisters, and the rat. They were all sharing the space in harmony because that’s what people outside of America do, they don’t have a choice neither do they most of the time can’t afford to live better. We don’t have a luxury, we have the basics we need to live and most of us don’t know or understand how the United States runs, and I’m pretty sure that’s what causes the commotion while trying to adapt here. We don’t know what to expect, besides what we have seen in movies and tv shows. 

This week, another season of 90 days Happily Ever After comes to a wrap. It was a crazy season where no one was happy, they all considered divorce, shoes were flying, manipulation was at high stakes, plastic surgery was made without any money and Angela kept her mind games with poor Mykul. That man deserves to come to America more than any other person from the cast. Thinking about this season and some other seasons, I concluded that TLC’s money machine is based on the same troupes, season after season. After some time, I did some research and found out that the show sometimes manipulates their reactions to make it more interesting. It worked, because lately, I have been watching like its a very dramatic soap opera, that it is on air at 2 pm for the past 30 years, like “Days of our Lives”

troupe verb

trouped; trouping

Definition of the troupe 

intransitive verb

: to travel in a troupe

also: to perform as a member of a theatrical troupe 

I put on together a list of the cast that are part of the same troupe; Let’s start with the old ladies first, in respect to their age. 

The Old Ladies who want the youngsters: 

Angela, Baby Girl Lisa (Aka – Angela wannabe), and Jennie. 

Angela was the pioneer. She met Mykul on Facebook and decided to meet him in Nigeria, where she verbally abused the hell out of that man and he patiently accepts her tantrums and gives her cake as a peace offer. I guess he understands she is older and has some serious menopausal sing issues. He respects that, at the same time they want to have a kid together, but she can’t “tote” the kid, because, oh well, menopause. After being on the series of the show’s franchise, they finally got married in Nigeria, after Mykull had his fiancee visa denied. Hey, immigration, maybe he is the Nigerian prince we keep getting emails from since 2010. Let him come over already, he deserves it. 

After Angela, we got the Great Value version of her, Baby Girl Lisa. What is up with these old ladies and the Nigerian guys? Baby Girl Lisa fell in love with Usman, who is a singer and made her a song. That damn song verse “baby girl I’m in love with you” with that autotune was on an endless loop in my brain for days. Make it stop. Lisa is also jealous, feisty, and angry, but Usman is a little bit less patience than Mykull, he fights back. And no cake. Lisa wanted to be in his music video, because the song was for her, his manager/friend said it was not appealing to the viewers. I laughed so hard I spilled my drink. A goat as a gift for his mom, which they insanely transported inside of a Volvo to his mom’s house. There were plenty of memes about Lisa with avail in her head, praying, while she looked identical to the ET on the movie. I live for #90dayfiancee on Sundays. 

Going far and beyond we had Jenni. She moved across the globe to be with Summit, in India, when she got there, he used to disappear like a cat, coming back home eventually with the sad look on his face. Something was bothering him and I called it “He is married. He probably has another family” .He did and it was a whole altercation. His family showed up at the apartment door, Jenni cried, felt betrayed, got back to the States, just to go back to India for another season. This time is for sure! I guess…

The ghostly golddiggers and the delusional: 

Maria and Lana and The Williams


Years and years taking money from Caesar, without a single drop of guilt. Caesar as a nail technician was being drained with the promise she would go see him at some point. We all cheered, we spend the entire season thinking she didn’t exist He was eating ramen like a college kid working like a maniac, for her just to live her life in Russia. At the Tell All episode, she showed up, even the cast was in awe and yet, she didn’t want Caesar, 


David, much like Caeser, fell for a Russian girl he paid to talk on a website, about 200K in seven years. She answered him, but every time they have to meet, she fled with a crazy excuse. Once again, we call the guy crazy and the girl, different than Maria, actually showed up at the very last minute. She didn’t speak any English, so they used the translator. She was shy and confused by the man she was talking for the past 7 years.  

Yolanda/ The Williams

We don’t have pictures of The Williams. Yolanda doesn’t have any photos either.

Much like the other in the delusional troupe, Yolanda fell into the internet catfishing hole, and it was too easy for The Williams to play his game. He told her he was from England when she asked which airport she should arrive, he didn’t know. Like everyone in her troupe, she kept believing in his lies. At first, I was like “protect Yolanda at all costs. Please don’t hurt her” At the end of the season I was like “The witch is crazy, so many clues and how can’t she see that?” Then he blackmailed her. She sends nude photos to him. We were thinking he was part of Usman’s Nigerian friend’s group “The yahoo boys”. The viewers are great with conspiracy theories and I can prove! 

The boy-child troupe

TLC is coming with another show soon called “I love a Mama’s boy” and I don’t understand how Colt was not cast for that too. His relationship with his mom is weird, co-dependent, and invasive. At least that’s what they show on tv. I don’t know what is real or not, I judge by what I see. He listened to his mom, instead of his new wife, forcing the wife to live like in a hippie community, sharing all the spaces and mother Debbie is very protective of her space and her in- house slot machine. Brazilians don’t have a sense of space, since we have none. The same situation happened with Jihoon, the Korean guy who impregnated the girl after meeting her for the first time. 

Jihoon was still leaving with his parents, doing small schemes to make money. So, as his life goes well, he decided to bring the American girlfriend, her 3 years old daughter, and the newborn baby to live in Korea. What can go wrong? Inside of his parent’s tiny house. Last season, he rented an apartment on a bad neighborhood, Deavon’s mom freaked out, the kid almost got hit by a car and all this end up with Jihoon crying on the sidewalk, smoking a cigarette, guilty and a complete emotional wreck. This shows it not for the weak minded. We also have Paul. For 3 years now we see this man move back and forth from Brazil, with a translator that helped him get a girlfriend, marry her and have a baby. With no job. They go to Brazil like they are crossing the Indiana-Kentucky border. His neurotic behavior led Karine to believe he can’t control his temper. I don’t think he can either. Paul, as far as I can see, is the true American, problematic, gaslight the hell out of the girl, blames and manipulate her, because of that feed his ego. Yes, they can get away from each other. 

That’s the end of part one of showing my extensive knowledge of the show. I love trash tv talk and I could talk about it hours on end. That’s why I’m working on the second part which will include: The rude crowd, The spoiled brats (ew! Leida), and the Brazilians (because I have a lot to say about my people and the reckless behavior) 

If you watch the show too, please let me know on the comments what is the most chaotic person on the show so far.


Folklore is about us in quarantine

 Here it goes, I’m finally gonna write about what I have been putting aside. Like it or not, Taylor Swift was all of us during this quarantine and she expressed that on her new album, Folklore. 

I listen to Taylor’s music since she released Love Story, in 2009, when she was still trying to figure herself as either a country artist or pop. I don’t enjoy country music, but the little banjo cords from Mean, got me dancing. I’m not a music connoisseur either, all I know is about the same as the big masses out there. I either like it or not. This is also not an evaluation of her latest album. 

When Taylor released Folklore, at some point in July, I listen to it almost immediately and couldn’t believe it. Is that really her? The album has a dark path, the lyrics are very intense and for a writer like me, who usually looks for inspiration in music, it’s a whole lot of fun to listen to and extract most of it to create a story. This album is not bubbly, colorful with nice engaging beats like Lover. Also not politically correct, she cusses quite a bit. I listen to it and the conclusion I got from it was – Taylor was all of us in at some point in quarantine. Here are some songs that made me realize that. 

Exile – 

“You’re not my homeland anymore
So what am I defending now?
You were my town, now I’m in exile, seein’ you out
I think I’ve seen this film before”

The piano intro gave the feeling of being hopeless during all this time at home. What is going on outside? Why am being held hostage at home? Am I in some sort of coma, where I can hear things but I can’t move and make things happen? Exile song seems to be an allusion to be trapped at home, without know when we will be able to get out. She wants the virus to go away so we can move on, as she doesn’t recognize herself or her purpose anymore. There is no more security for anything.  When can I start living my life again? 

Mirrorball – 

“I know they said the end is near” 

When we got locked up at home, in March, with the promise the quarantine would last a little bit over a month, so we could flatten the curve, there was still hope. When June came, all we were hearing was the number of people dying and how tired people got of staying at home, so they let us out, with some restrictions and some people went all the way. As the curve flatten yet? The music lyrics seems to be saying “If I’m gonna die, at least I would go dancing” That’s exactly what some people did, they lived like there was no tomorrow. They crowded the beaches in Miami, a barbecue with friends, went to pool parties. Living like there is no tomorrow indeed. 

Seven – 

Please picture me in the trees
I hit my peak at seven
Feet in the swing over the creek
I was too scared to jump in

After such a long time at home, she starts to forget everyone’s face. Trying to keep some memories alive, she thinks about her less chaotic and free childhood. We all tend to bring back good memories to keep us going when times get hard. Taylor is trying to keep the magic of her life alive within her memories. That’s why is so important to live your life to the fullest and stop working so damn hard, forgetting what’s real life’s purpose – to live! I’m glad I’ve had enough memories to keep me going during these hard times. I try to live my best life because someday I want to be that crazy old lady seating at the porch telling stories that look way too cooler than it actually was. Like that time me and my best friend were in Miami, at 3 am, in a convenience store, singing Kanye West.  


“And there’s nothing like a mad woman
What a shame she went mad
No one likes a mad woman

At this point, our dear Taylor already lost her mind. She was probably trapped with her significant other in quarantine for too long when she wrote this song. All of us that had someone with us, inside the house 24/7 during the lockdown months knows the feeling. I love my husband, but I also need space. Same with kids. I don’t have kids, but friends who have it were on a verge of break down. Self-care is important and it usually happens when people give you a break and guess what? Kids are always hungry and you always have to cook. I love to cook, but 3 meals a day plus snacks I can’t take it. Where all the money is going? Well, take out. I’m not cooking again and I need to help local restaurants while keeping my sanity. Also, I’m so sorry for homeschooling. 

My tears ricochet 

“You know I didn’t want to

Have to haunt you

But what a ghostly scene”

I left this song in the last position because it’s my favorite and by far the saddest one. It was that point of the quarantine when you had a few weird symptoms and you were sure you had Corona. You start to think that you are gonna die, and everything is over on earth for you. “I took care of myself, why does my throat hurt? And why do I have a headache?”. I can’t watch the news much longer. All of that scary feeling was probably one of the reasons for this song, I would like to think. In the lyrics, she looks like she is deceased and she is back to haunt the guy. It’s a whole sad story about how she died and the person was wearing her necklace, while she is being buried. If there is any inspiration for these songs, I would definitely write a horror, suspense movie

Corona hit all of us in different ways. Taylor made a sick ass album, completely different from what we are used to. Liking her or not, you gotta giver credit, for dropping an entire album in the middle of quarantine. 

I have been putting this post away for some time now because I’m a bit scared of looking silly. Why should I care about what others think of me? I shouldn’t. Yet I postponed this for a few weeks, questioning myself. Before I wrote my post, I wanted to ask when did we stopped writing for fun, because we love what we do, having crazy, imaginative ideas, and started writing mostly subjects that other people want to read? I feel like people these days can’t be true to themselves anymore, it’s all about what others will perceive them and how their idea will be received. It’s like Hollywood not being able to create anything new and just producing remakes because they want money guarantee. If I write the same thing as everyone else, what even the point? We need more creatives in the world. Don’t be afraid of looking ridiculous. Take risks!  (Not with Corona though, be safe)

How the Tv broke the language barrier.

I didn’t speak any English until I was 19 years old. I started taking classes when I was 16. Before starting the classes in 2001, everything was a big blur. I was obsessed with Pop Music and American movies, that helped me out a lot with my vocabulary. When I was able to take classes, those random words I had in my mind, from movies and music, gave me confidence to lift up my hand in order to answer every question my teacher asked, even though she didn’t want me to.

Moving to the United States was my plan since I was 12 (when hell broke loose in my house), I knew the only way for me to get out of Brazil, was to learn English, therefore and I mimicked every word I could understand from shows on tv. Friends and Gilmore Girls were my favorite at that time, although I had an incredible difficulty time understanding what Lorelai was saying to Rory, because the dialogue was really fast. I still have problems with Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, which is from the same producer of Gilmore Girls, Amy Sherman Palladino. If you blink, you miss it. I had to pick up speed, but even after all these years, I am still comfortable watching the shows with English subtitles. Just in case I blink.

Friends was the show that gave me my first set of words that I could use and make jokes with “How you Doin?”. I didn’t understand the jokes, because they were related to situations happening here. I didn’t watch the show until 2001, because we didn’t have cable at home. The English Course would let me rent VHS tapes of some episodes, so I used to rent them when they were available, cracking my brain and pretending to understand what was going on, because the subtitles were, of course, in English. I can’t believe I have been watching the Re-run for almost 20 years now.

The show for me represented the part of a culture I wanted to be in. Living in New York, with friends in the most unreal situations. I mimicked it so much when I say “Coffee” comes out with a New York accent. I know that because the waitress at a Waffle House told me, and I would like to believe he was being honest with me. Music was another way I found to pronounce words, as I repeated the same word probably 200 times a day with Christina Aguilera and Backstreet Boys playing on my boombox while torturing the neighbors.

The songs came out perfectly pronounced, even though I had no idea of what I was singing. Thirteen-year-old me, deeply jamming to Spice Girls, “When 2 become one”, having no idea of what that actually meant. I can never get over the fact the words were saying “are you as good as I remember baby? Put it on, put it, because tonight is the night when two become one.” Wow Emma, Rated R! There were other songs, like Red Hot Chili Peppers – Scar Tissue, when I sang it came out like this “it’s per the shane is a long way view”, I had no idea of what I was saying. “Scrubs”, from TLC was one of my favorites.

The fact I was obsessed with tv and American music, helped me out greatly. I learned since the first time I did my summer college program here in North Carolina, I would have to work on my accent and make sure people would understand me, I understood this long before I moved to Georgia. I was so tired of being questioned and made fun of because of my accent, I decided to look up YouTube for some accent tone down lessons. I found a few videos of actor preparation to play parts with different accents and the exercise practice, and I started to once again mimicking those vocal sounds.

It’s sad how much of myself I had to change while I was in Georgia. Especially working in restaurants, people were more interested in knowing where I came from than the food itself, and then they wanted to blame it on me when they messed up the order. I was constantly told that all my mistakes were due to my language barrier. I was told to say the ingredients and preparation methods, without a margin of error towards my speech. Like I was born and raised here. So, after a lot of harassment at the restaurant, I decided to work on my accent. I only noticed the difference when I started creative writing school. The classes were all online and the teacher had to be able to understand all the students, and thank God she understood me.

I never wanted to lose my accent. I was forced into it, in order to blend in and get by. It still gets pretty rough when I talk to my family, in my native language, but most of the time, I’m paying attention to how I sound and let me tell you, it is exhausting. I worked hard for years to be fluent, but I never thought that I would actually have to sound like an American to be accepted. Let me also tell you, I’m done trying. Come as you are, I’m tired.

When you say you are from Brazil, people usually look at you and expect you have lived with a Cheetah by the river. Wearing only leaves to covering your body. We are exotic for sure, but some of us live in a population of 12 million people, and none of us have cheetahs. My whole point is, don’t judge anyone by their accent, you don’t know how hard they worked to speak another language. Don’t expect them to have a full clear pronunciation of words, they will, more likely, use the same tone of their native language, and it’s not that they don’t care, it’s that they don’t want to lose the only part that feels like home to them.

All I have to say is, hold tight to your culture, keep your accent and be proud of your accomplishments.

Have a great week!

J. G. Snelly

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