Longtime fans of Amara La Negra have known her to be tenacious, self-assured, and supremely talented. Since getting her start on Sábado Gigante as a kid, the Miami-born Dominican singer has been hustling to make it in the music industry. She thrilled the Internet when she announced she’d be a part of VH1’s Love & Hip Hop: Miami at last year’s Afro-Latino Fest. Now, after making her debut on the show, Billboard reports she’s closer than ever to her goal: Amara has landed a multi-album record deal with Fast Life Entertainment Worldwide and BMG.
“I’m still in shock! At times, I am caught pinching myself because there is a part of me that still is in awe of being signed to a franchise that will heighten my success,” Amara said in a statement to Billboard.
The record deal shouldn’t come as a surprise to longtime fans of Amara. It’s also a satisfying “told you so” to naysayers who have questioned—and even insulted—Amara’s image and identity as a black Latina, something she’s proudly embraced since the beginning of her career. The premiere of Love & Hip Hop: Miami captured an ultra-awkward moment between Amara and producer Elijah Sarraga (aka Young Hollywood). Sarraga suggests Amara change her look and ignorantly adds that afros can’t be elegant. (Young Hollywood, we’ll just leave this here for you. And this. And this. Oh, and this.)
Unfortunately, that’s not the only incident of colorism and discrimination that Amara has faced. Last September, television host and former Nuestra Belleza Latina contestant Geisha Montes de Oca imitated Amara by wearing blackface, hip pads, and a fake Afro. Montes de Oca immediately encountered backlash from shocked social media users, who called the stunt “disgusting” and a “disgrace.”
But Amara’s magic has always been her grace and pride—and her ability to respond to criticism with ultimate shutdowns. “Not all Latinas look like J. Lo or Sofia Vergara or Shakira, so where are the women that look like myself?” she asked Young Hollywood pointedly after his nonsensical comments about Afro-Latinidad. On her Instagram, she’s always made her intentions of expanding representation and opening doors for other Afro-Latinos clear: “They never consider that a woman like myself can represent Latinas. They are always looking for women like Shakira, Sofia Vergara or Jennifer Lopez. It truly is frustrating. I am fighting to break this stereotype because I am proud of who I am, of my roots, of my so-called ‘bad hair’ and I know that many Latinas identify with me,” she writes on one post.
According to Billboard, Amara will release her first single in early 2018. She’ll also work with producers Rock City, who have also made songs for Rihanna, Beyoncé, and Nicki Minaj.We’re already excited for all the barriers and doors we know she’s going to bust wide open. In the meantime, we’ll let her continue to awe us on Love & Hip Hop: Miami.