Saturday, March 5, 2016

A Day with Josefina López

Teen Community Historians with Josefina Lopez after the interview.
Left to right: Dulce, Kelli, Oscar, Odalys, Josefina López, Cristina, José, Jasek
By: Kelli Sjule
Josefina Lopez came to visit the Santa Ana Public Library, and shared her experiences as a proud and intrepid Chicana author, playwright, and acclaimed film director. She discussed the painful feeling of dehumanization when she discovered as a child that her parents were undocumented, and the struggle in needing to keep this information a secret from friends, and society. She described her defiant attitude toward the limitations imposed on certain groups of people by society, and her refusal to adhere to expectations she saw no use, or dignity in subscribing to, or perpetuating. Josefina’s confidence, humor, and compassion were on full display. She would seamlessly go from one minute talking about her experiences of profound alienation, to the need for righteous anger and indignation against injustice. Josefina offered advice on how to build a successful coalition in an art community, emphasizing that you have to have large enough dream so the dreams of others will naturally overlap, and you will be working in concert with others pursuing shared goals in a united community with support systems built into its structure. Josefina discussed her passion for writing, and talked about her personal ambitions for her theater built in her home of Boyle Heights, and giving Chicana women the tools, and the opportunity to participate in theater through this endeavor. Josefina sees the arts as a healthy alternative to the reoccurring influx of gangs that exist in her home community, and feels her theater offers a safe alternative where young people can come together and express themselves in a healthy, supportive environment, and make their mark on the stage rather than on the streets. Josefina gave a warm presentation on the second floor of the library, speaking in disjointed thoughts, and expressing herself with humor and conviction that handily caught the attention of those in attendance, and got people thinking, and asking questions by the time the Q&A portion of the presentation come around. It was an insightful interview, and a wildly inspiring presentation, and open forum with the public. We hope to be lucky enough to see Josefina again, and are proud to have been able to host her this weekend at the Santa Ana Public Library.

By: Oscar Magana
This kind of experience is why I am proud to be a Teen Historian. When we were interviewing Josefina Lopez, her story was filled with so many details and so much passion that it felt as if I was growing up right next to her in LA. The way she described how her family’s culture and beliefs impeded her from becoming anything more than a house-wife was something I was not expecting to hear from a successful woman such as her. It was heartbreaking to hear how difficult her childhood was. As a born citizen of the United States, I had no idea how difficult it was for undocumented children to find their way in society.
She described how being labelled an illegal alien really made her feel like an alien. Having to explain to others that she didn’t have papers made her feel like she didn’t belong. Growing up, she was told that she was destined to become someone’s trophy wife or their maid, nothing else. I’m glad that she decided she was not going to settle for that and instead dedicated her life to combating this ideology that chicanas are destined for greater things than a life of servitude. Her play, Real Women Have Curves, has become an inspiration to many and serves as a story that we are limited only by what we think we can achieve. Josefina knew that she could grow up and make a difference in the world, and thanks to that determination, she has. Today was filled with many inspiring moments and I hope that my future is filled with many more of them.

By: Odalys Gomez
Josefina Lopez is a very influential woman. She is not only a successful writer but she is also an activist. It was an amazing experience being able to interview and really understand her drive behind everything she does. It was apparent that her migration to the United States played a major role in what she believes. This was a very insightful interview because I was able to understand and see what it is like for someone to understand what being undocumented entails. I also valued her persistence in her life that although she did get delayed a year in her college career because she did not have proper documentation, she was able to get through those obstacles. Her persistence and dedication to her causes is something to be admired. As a woman growing up in a Hispanic household, I was able to understand her position. She is also a woman that I admire because everything that she does for the Hispanic community. Overall the interview was a great experience.
The second part of the event was also great. This part was a little less formal, which allowed for us, the audience, to really get to know her on a personal level. During this part she also gave the audience a glimpse of how her upbringing was and how she relates it to her work. Most of the work she has done is rooted with her life and the injustices that came along with it. Her courage is apparent and admirable. Overall this was a great experience. I was able to learn about the journey and the motives of Josefina Lopez.  

By: Cristina Hernandez
We interviewed Josefina López who is the author of Real Women Have Curves and many other works. Interviewing her was a unique experience because I’ve never meet a Chicana writer who has done so much for her community. She has made it her work and her vision to give a voice to women of all ages and colors, because she feels that they are the most underrepresented group. She has given the kids of Boyle Heights a second chance through CASA 0101, through the many arts and theater programs she has created. Traditionally, this was an area of Los Angeles that had no theaters, as many low-income communities tend to lack in humanities and arts programming. However, she feels that they are essential to expressing the stories and lives of these often unheard people.
I am aspiring to work in the animation industry, and like her I will also be sharing stories, but through a different media. She has shown me that despite your background that anyone can become a storyteller. Though the stories I tell may be different, I was still able to gain an important insight from this event because I got to know firsthand what the process is like. Also, I was able to be inspired by her motivation and unapologetic voice that has allowed her to continue working in Hollywood for over twenty years and tell the stories that she wants to and feels most in tune with.