On November 30, NBC previewed their new comedy Superstore, and the response has been an overwhelming “More, please!” It’s no secret that we are fans of its lead actress America Ferrera. We love her because she’s funny, and because she speaks her mind eloquently on issues most people would shy away from. For proof, look no further than her letter to Donald Trump. In our increasingly contentious political climate, Ferrera has become a voice for Latino mobilization.
Superstore, created and written by Justin Spitzer (The Office), details the lives of employees at a Walmart-esque superstore called Cloud 9. America plays Amy, a 29-year-old jaded floor supervisor. Playing opposite to Amy is Jonah (Ben Feldman), the idealistic newbie who believes in unexpected “moments of beauty.” He’s the idealist, she’s the realist; he smiles, she rolls her eyes. Cue the work flirt.
I had the opportunity to speak with the Emmy-winning actress about Superstore, repping the working class, and our responsibility as Latinos in the next election.
On Starring in Superstore
“It was the first time I was offered a character not specifically written for a Latina.”
What really drew me in was the writing. Justin’s [Spitzer] writing was funny and had a lot of heart. It had all the things you look for. And the setting. Setting it in a superstore gave us an opportunity to defy stereotypes about the kinds of people who work in a store like this. We are telling the story of the working class who make corporate America. There’s a lot of opportunity to poke fun at that.
On Color-Blind Casting
None of these roles were written with ethnicities in mind. They were part of a bigger story. For me, it was the first time I was offered a character not specifically written for a Latina. It was a milestone. And the same is true for all the characters. They were writing and casting outside the box.
On Playing Amy
“We are defying those assumptions and expectations. I think that’s the subtle magic of our show.”
It’s fun to play her. For Amy, it’s about survival. She’s not going to come into a room with wide-eyed optimism. With Amy, we make all sorts of assumptions because she works at a superstore, she’s Latina, and she had a child when she was young. Real life is complicated. The first thing we see is never the real story. The show sets up everything to be turned upside down. We are defying those assumptions and expectations. I think that’s the subtle magic of our show.
On Experiencing “Moments of Beauty”
I come and go. I’ve definitely stopped a room and asked people to “take it all in.”
On NBC Having Three Latina-led Shows This Season
“We no longer need to have one Latina show to represent all Latinas.”
What I think is exciting is that there are three Latina-led shows on NBC that could not be more different from each other. We no longer need to have one Latina show to represent all Latinas. We have more than one opportunity at a time. We have more than one opportunity to relate. This shows a hunger for diversity. This is a tide that is not going to be reversed. It’s smart business.
On Our Responsibility as Latinos in 2016
Our responsibility is to ourselves. Things will change for the better if we engage. The amount of money and resources spent to silence us should be taken as sign of our influence. We have to create political conversations and organize and mobilize on election day. I believe they will pay attention, but we have to organize, to mobilize, and show that Latinos have American values; we care about our troops, about health care, about civil rights. We are American. We have the power but we have to engage. We have to focus and engage. My hope is that we show up on election day. All of us. And that’s not only good for us, but good for all people.
Superstore premieres January 4, 2016 at 8 p.m. on NBC.