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Maria Hinojosa: This is Latino USA, the radio journal of news and cultura. It’s Latino USA. It’s Latino USA. Welcome to Latino USA. I’m Maria Hinojosa. We bring you stories that are underreported, but that matter to you. Overlooked by the rest of the media. And while the country is struggling to deal with these problems. We listen to the stories of Black and Latino students. A united Latino front. A cultural renaissance. Organizing at the forefront of the movement. I’m Maria Hinojosa. !No se vayan! 

Melissa Barrera: If there’s only like one or two or three of us speaking out, then those three people are easier to target. If it’s hundreds, thousands speaking out, then they can’t target you. Then that goes for every industry and everywhere on every topic.

Maria Hinojosa: From Futuro Media and PRX, it’s Latino USA, I’m Maria Hinojosa. Today, Mexican actress Melissa Barrera, from sappy telenovelas to horror films. (MUSIC) 

 (MUSIC) Melissa Barrera has been pretty consistently making a name for herself in Hollywood these years. The actress, born and raised in Monterey, Mexico first made her mark in her home country starring in telenovelas like “Siempre Tuya Acapulco” and “Tanto Amor.”

 Te amo Diego, te amo como la primera vez que te vi, te amo como si el tiempo no hubiera pasado. ¡Te amo!” Her breakthrough in the U.S. came with the critically acclaimed series, “Vida,” opening the door for other major roles to follow in her career. She belted songs out as Vanessa in the film adaptation of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s, Tony Award-winning musical, “In the Heights.” 

Melissa Barrera: “I’m hoping in the limousine and driving away.”

 (MUSIC) 

Maria Hinojosa: And she took on one of the most iconic horror movie villains of all time, “Ghostface”, in Scream V and VI, helping revive the franchise and becoming a new favorite Scream Queen for a new generation of horror fans. 

Melissa Barrera: “I’m right here. Come and get me.” 

Ghostface: “With pleasure.” 

Maria Hinojosa: Most recently, Melissa has stood out, not for her acting, but because of her activism and because she’s been vocal on social media about the war on Gaza.

The story she posted on Instagram ultimately cost her her role in the next installment of Scream. 

News Anchor: “ET has confirmed Melissa was fired after causing intense backlash for social media posts accusing Israel of quote genocide and ethnic cleansing.” 

Maria Hinojosa: “Spyglass,” the studio behind the Scream franchise, alleged that Melissa’s comments were anti-Semitic and crossed the line into hate speech.

But being dropped from Scream hasn’t kept Melissa out of the horror scene. She stars today in “Abigail,” where she plays a kidnapper who targets a young and deadly vampire ballerina. The film is out now in theaters nationwide. (MUSIC) 

In this episode of Latino USA, Melissa and I talk about her childhood in Mexico. What propelled her into acting and how she views her own diverse and growing career during what she calls an age of self-reflection. Here’s my conversation with Melissa Barrera.

(MUSIC) 

It’s great to have you on Latino USA, mija, finally. 

Melissa Barrera: Thank you. I was very excited from the moment you told me, and I’m glad we’re finally doing it. 

Maria Hinojosa: So, la verdad, Melissa, your career has been this thing to witness. Now you are an absolute Hollywood presence. And I’m sure that a lot of people just, you know, who Melissa Barrera is, oh yeah, yeah, yeah. And I want to take this moment to kind of go back to the original Melissa, la Melissa from Monterrey in Mexico, because, you know, you actually didn’t move to the United States until you were 19. You moved to New York to study at NYU as an international student. 

Melissa Barrera: Yeah. 

Maria Hinojosa: Can you take me back to Monterrey?

What does Monterrey look like and smell like for, let’s say, 10-year-old Melissa? 

Melissa Barrera: Oh, wow! Monterrey has always felt to me like, and obviously I’m biased, but it was just such a beautiful place to grow up. And at 10 years old, I was out on the streets playing with my neighbors all day. Like, I remember every summer would just be, I’d wake up, I say bye to my mom, I had like a little like pandilla with my neighborhood (LAUGHS) neighbors and they were all boys, I was the only girl. I was a little tomboy, I loved to like play in the dirt and play sports and I would just go out and play and like, en los terrenos, there were like terrenos baldíos, which is, you know, like these places that haven’t been built yet.

So we would just explore and climb trees and like play pseudo baseball, basketball with whatever we could find, with like broomsticks and, and draw with chalk on the street and play bebe leche and like, that was it. And I was 

Maria Hinojosa: “Ok, wait, wait, ¿bebe leche? ¿Qué es eso?, I don’t know Bebe Leche. 

Melissa Barrera: You don’t know bebe leche? What is it called in English?

It’s that thing where you jump, you jump with one foot and then two, and then one, and then two. 

Maria Hinojosa: Oh, hopscotch! 

Melissa Barrera: Hopscotch. It’s called bebe leche. 

Maria Hinojosa: Bebe leche. So this sounds kind of idyllic, although I am kind of stuck on the part that you were a tomboy and that everybody was cool with you being a tomboy and that you were in those, in los baldíos, because I used to play in those baldíos and they’re frigging scary places to be playing as a kid.

Melissa Barrera: It wasn’t scary at all. I grew up with a very like tough, very masculine dad that always wanted a son and he got four daughters. And so I was just tough. Like, I think a part of me was like, I knew that he wanted a son, so I kind of was as much of a son as I could be. And I would like ride motorcycles with him, like I had a motorcycle, like I had a little Yamaha from when I was four years old, you know, and I would just… 

Maria Hinojosa: (LAUGHS) 

Melissa Barrera: Yeah. 

Maria Hinojosa: A four year old on a Yamaha. Yo. 

Melissa Barrera: Yeah. (MUSIC) 

Maria Hinojosa: So, where does the part come in where you’re like, I think I want to sing and dance? Because that’s a leap there. 

Melissa Barrera: That part kind of awakened in me because of one of my little pandilla neighborhood boys. He got into this TV show called “Código Fama,” like “Code Fame.”

Archive Tape: “Tu talento solo en Código Fama. Fuerza…” 

Melissa Barrera: And it was basically like a American Idol for children, what now The Voice Kids is, I guess, but like way back in the day. And so he got on that show and it was huge. Like it was a huge thing in all of Mexico. Like everybody was watching that show. It was a little like a star maker for children. 

And I think seeing him and knowing him, I kind of was like, “Oh, I want to do that too.”

And so I started kind of having the dreams of being a pop star and singing and being on TV. And I think that’s how it started. 

Maria Hinojosa: And would you give shows to like your family or to your friends? 

Melissa Barrera: Oh, no, no, no, no.

Maria Hinojosa: No?

Melissa Barrera: I was so shy. I was incredibly shy. Like those were all like, sueños guajiros. They were just like unreachable dreams that I had, but that I didn’t ever really know how I was gonna accomplish them because I was so shy.

But eventually, like, I would tell my mom, like, “Can you take me to this audition?” And when I would tell her, it would be like, “Take me and my sisters.” So we would like all go and audition. 

Maria Hinojosa: (LAUGHS) 

Melissa Barrera: And that’s something that I continued up until like when I started falling in love with musical theater in school. The first audition that I did in school, I convinced my whole basketball team to come and audition with me.

I needed like safety in numbers to feel like I could sing in front of someone. 

Maria Hinojosa: So, can you tell me a little bit about your mom? 

Melissa Barrera: She is the most special person in my life and she’s an incredible woman and I wouldn’t be where I am and I wouldn’t be the person that I am without her. Our whole lives, I just remember my mom working full time our entire lives.

She was basically like the primary breadwinner in my family. And she’s one of the brightest, smartest women you’ll ever meet. She even got a medal from the president in college of like the highest GPA in all of Mexico. She won…

Maria Hinojosa: What?! 

Melissa Barrera: …The medal. Yeah. Like that’s my mom. Ajá. Yeah. 

Maria Hinojosa: (LAUGHS) Okay. 

Melissa Barrera: And so she’s always worked really hard. And I’ve always had that example of a woman that can do everything, that can do it all. That can be like a full-time mom and be present with her four daughters and support them in everything that they want to do. And also work full-time. 

Maria Hinojosa: She wasn’t cooking though. I mean. 

Melissa Barrera: My mom doesn’t cook and that’s why probably neither do I.

Maria Hinojosa: Bravo! Three Mexican women who don’t cook. I love that. We’re cool with that. We’re okay with that people. We’re okay with it. 

Melissa Barrera: Yeah. I will drink wine with you while you prepare food though. I am the best company, the best. (MUSIC) 

Maria Hinojosa: So musical theater. What were the experiences that made you say, I specifically want to do musical theater. Because people may want to act or they may want to be a pop-star, but musical theater is a particular niche  kind of thing. Where was that where you were like, this is the thing? 

Melissa Barrera: I remember falling in love with musical theater as an audience member first. 

There was something very special about how seeing a musical made me feel. And it was a feeling that stayed with me for many days after I had seen a show. And so I was like, what is this feeling? And once I knew what it was like the process of learning music, learning choreography, and creating this world, there’s something very addictive about it. There’s something very beautiful about this idea of this world where you just break out into song and dance, and most of the time there’s a big group number at the end, where everyone is just smiling from ear to ear.

(MUSIC) 

And you leave the theater with a smile on your face and wanting to talk about it, and with the song stuck in your head. I don’t know, there was just something like deeply magical about it and like spiritual about the experience that made me want to not just experience it for the rest of my life, but like, be one of the people that made others experience that feeling for the rest of my life.

Maria Hinojosa: And I wonder if that thing, that passion that you feel, right? Is what translates for all of us who watch you now, right? Because your first breakthrough piece here in the United States is on the series “Vida.” 

Archive Tape: “Why is it all so complicated?” “Because you make it complicated, Lynn. You’re a full-on agent of chaos.”

Maria Hinojosa: You played a young woman, her name is Lynn Hernández. These are sisters who go back to their East L.A. neighborhood after their mom dies. It’s a really complex portrayal of Mexican identity in the United States. And it was especially interesting for someone like you, who had come from Mexican film and television, including telenovelas and reality.

And I’m wondering if you can talk about what that transition was like. 

Melissa Barrera: It was probably the smoothest transition that anyone could have ever had moving from Mexico to the U.S. You know, I always had dreams of making it in Hollywood. Like, I don’t want to generalize, but like for most people, especially in like Mexico and Latin America, like Hollywood is the big pond, the big exposure to the world.

And so I had seen Salma Hayek do it from telenovelas to Hollywood, and I was like, if she did it, I can do it. And I had idealized what this change was going to be and how like, that was gonna feel. And when it finally happened for me, it didn’t feel like a change at all. It felt like a change of scenery and language. But other than that, it felt pretty much the same. And I think in large part, it was because, obviously it was a smaller show. And, I was going in to work for a showrunner that was Mexican, for a director that was Mexican and for the majority of a crew that were some sort of Latino, and a lot of them spoke Spanish. So it was almost no change at all. 

Maria Hinojosa: Interesting. 

Melissa Barrera: And for me, because I was expecting it to feel so different that I was like, “Oh, this is what I’ve been wanting.” It’s exactly the same. Just now I’m like acting in English and living in LA. 

Maria Hinojosa: Wow, that’s like a very unique experience, Melissa, because most people, as you know, it’s really freaking tough.

And I wonder if that experience of kind of it feeling natural for you had to do with the way in which you played the character, Lynn. And I remember the moment where I was like, okay, I actually do love this show. And it was a scene with your character. So your character, who was basically hanging out with all the white folks, the rich white kids in I don’t know what part of rich L.A. and they all get drunk and get sick and they’re puking and you’re just kind of watching this thing, and then. 

Archive Tape: “Aurora! Charlie threw up again! 

I feel so bad. She has to keep cleaning it up.” 

“Don’t, that’s what she’s here for.”

Maria Hinojosa: The Mexican maid who was there at the party, cleaning, serving, all of that. And at the end of the night, you end up on a bus with the Mexican maid, separated by a bunch of seats, and it’s like this is what it’s like to be Mexican in L.A. You might end up in a very hoity-toity party, but you’re gonna end up on the bus, con la mexicana. That particular scene, I mean, I can see it in my head, and I’m wondering if, if it was an important scene for you to do as an actor?

Melissa Barrera: It was. That episode was very, I forget the word in English, but it was, pero estuvo fuerte para mi. The experience was something that I will always remember because it felt like this is what we’re trying to say with the show, actually. We have all the other like showy things and it’s entertainment, but this is actually what we’re trying to convey is this thing of no matter how far you climb in this country, if you’re not white, people will still see you as an other, and when you’re an other, you’re in the same level as everyone else that comes from your same community. That’s what Lynn realizes at the end of that episode, and she chooses to go back home, and in that bus, she is with, with the maid played by the beautiful Laura Patalano, who I adore. Who did an incredible job. 

Maria Hinojosa: And I mean, “Vida” in and of itself was a very sex-positive show for Latinas and Latinos.

Melissa Barrera: Hmm. 

Maria Hinojosa: How important is your, you know, I’m sex positive or do you now with you have a little bit more experience? Are you like, “God, I really overexposed.” How do you understand that particular part of your career? 

Melissa Barrera: I don’t regret anything. I’m so happy I did it. I think it was a period of growth in my life and a period of acceptance and of understanding to not be ashamed of our bodies and to not be ashamed of women who like sex and who want to explore sexually. I think that’s a taboo subject, especially in the Latino community because we’re so conservative. And even though there’s a stereotype of the sexy Latina, the Ba Ba Boom, like curvy. It’s something completely different to see a character that’s nude and enjoying sex in a way that doesn’t feel gratuitous, that is fully part of the character development. So, I’m very grateful that I did all that. I think in the moment, I didn’t know that I was capable of going there, because I did grow up very Catholic and had told myself that I was never gonna do nudity. Does that mean that now in every single movie that I do, I’m gonna be like, yeah, let’s do nudity because I already did it once?

No. But if it feels warranted, if it feels like it’s justified for the story and the character and that it’s gonna be shot tastefully, yeah, why not? I’m not ashamed of it anymore.

(MUSIC) 

Coming up on Latino USA, I continue my conversation with Melissa Barrera. We’re going to talk about her foray into horror films and how she chooses to make an impact beyond the big screen. Stay with us. !No te vayas!

(MUSIC) 

Hey, we’re back. We’re going to continue now with my conversation with Mexican actress and horror queen, Melissa Barrera. We’re going to talk about that Instagram post that cost her one of her biggest roles yet. 

Ghostface: “Hello, Samantha.” 

Sam Carpenter: “Who is this?” 

Ghostface: “Someone who knows your little family secret.” 

Maria Hinojosa: I was so surprised girl, when all of a sudden you’re in the movie Scream.

The reboot slash sequel in 2022 introduced new Latina and Black leads. You starred along with Jenna Ortega, another Latina who plays your sister, and this was the first time that you were offered a role without having to audition. So bravo for that!. 

Melissa Barrera: Yeah. 

Maria Hinojosa: By your second Scream film, Scream VI, your character Sam Carpenter becomes a fan favorite because of her dark, but very sensitive demeanor. So take me to that moment where you understand the significance of being part of this legacy feature, which is Scream. Take me back to that moment where you’re like, “Okay, now this is happening in my life.” 

Melissa Barrera: It was a crazy moment in my life because it was pandemic 2020. I kind of fell into a depression because I had so much momentum.

I felt like I was building momentum and, and “In The Heights” had been incredible, and then after “In The Heights” I had shot the third season of “Vida,” and I was like, this is going to be awesome. The third season is going to come out, then “In The Heights” is going to come out, and like, my life is going to change.

And it’s finally like my big break. I’ve been working my entire life for this moment. And then the pandemic hits, everything stops, the industry kind of dies. And I was like, “what’s going to happen?” Is “In The Heights” ever going to come out? And so I was like, I don’t know if I’m going to work again or when that’ll happen.

And I was in Mexico when I get the call about “Scream” and I was like, “Scream”? They’re making another one? It had been 10, 11 years since the last one. So I was like, “what?” I didn’t even know if it was a good thing or a bad thing to be in “Scream” at that point. You know, I was like, “Has it been too long since the last one where it’s not going to be good?”

And so I asked for the script and I, and I read it and it was great. And I fell in love with the character. And I remember hearing that they had like a pool of like five actresses that they were looking at for, and all different ethnicities. And I was the only Latina that they were looking at and I remember them telling me, you know, there’s a sister and so they’re looking at these two actresses for the sister as well.

And my thought was like, I have to get this role because if I don’t get it, then that means that that Latina actress that can potentially play the sister is also not going to get it. 

Maria Hinojosa: I love the fact that you’re taking us on the roller coaster. 

Melissa Barrera: It became a thing of like, I need to get Sam so that I can bring in another Latina into the franchise. And then there’s two of us in a franchise  where there has been none before. And that was, I think, the first pressure that I felt. That’s when it dawned on me, like, how big of a deal it was that they were potentially looking for a lead role that wasn’t white in a franchise that had been so white, really.

And then, you know, once I got it, I think I, I couldn’t really understand how big of a deal it was. Because I was just immediately mortified of like the pressure of, “Oh my god, I’m joining this franchise that has a fandom that’s so big and that has such a, like an ownership of the material and of the previous movies.”

And I was immediately horrified. (MUSIC) 

Maria Hinojosa: Let’s talk about something that you’re doing right now. We’re going to fast forward to the film “Abigail.” You’re joining forces again with your former “Scream” V and VI directors. 

Archive Tape: “I pinky promise you it’ll all be over soon.” 

“Joey?” 

“Yeah.” 

“I’m sorry about what’s gonna happen to you.” 

Melissa Barrera: I literally just watched it with some of the cast.

And it’s such a fun watch. It’s a scary movie. There’s a lot of blood and gore in it. And there’s a vampire that is evil and trying to kill everybody. But it’s actually like a very fun, weird combination of people, a weird ensemble of people that feel like the bad news bears just somehow teaming up, to survive in this crazy adventure.

Maria Hinojosa: So tell me about your character, Joey, and why, why playing Joey, you connected so deeply with you in this film. 

Melissa Barrera: Joey is a woman that has taken a lot of wrong turns in life and is trying to write them. She is trying to get out of this hole that she dug for herself. And what I love about this movie is that it sets you up with these characters that are all very questionable people.

I just love complicated and questionable characters. I think they’re a lot more interesting to play than like a straightforward goody two-shoes ingenue. There’s a lot of chasing and running around and action sequences and lots of blood. So I get to be like covered in blood, which just has become one of my favorite things. (LAUGHS) So, yeah. 

Maria Hinojosa: All right. So you have another new film, “Your Monster.” It’s a romantic comedy. You’ve done comedy in Mexico, not so much in the U.S. So, are you feeling a little bit more horror? Are you feeling more comedic these days? Is there one that you can love the most as an actor? 

Melissa Barrera: I’ve learned that it’s less to do with the genre and more to do with how much you connect with the character.

Because you’re gonna have fun regardless. “Your Monster” was probably one of the most fun I’ve had on a set. It was such an incredible experience and it shows me in a type of role that I don’t think anyone has ever seen me in before. I usually play like very strong women, like bold characters, and this character is not that, at least at the beginning of the movie.

I’ve been telling people that it’s like if I asked for the perfect movie for me that includes all the things that I love, rom coms, horror, and musical theater, they would have come up with “Your Monster.” So like, I don’t know how that happened, how that script landed on my email, but I’m so grateful that I got the opportunity to do that. (MUSIC) 

Maria Hinojosa: There are a lot of people, Melissa, who have become new fans of yours, and it may have to do with your acting, it may have to do with your horror and comedic skills, but there’s also another thing which you’ve become enamored for, and that is because of your activism. Because of a post, on Instagram, where you are talking about genocide, you are talking about the 30,000 Palestinians that have been killed in Gaza since October, and there are many scholars, historians, political scientists, philosophers, including many Israelis and many Jewish people and human rights organizations that have flat out called what is happening now in Gaza a genocide.

And, this costs you, it costs you work. You are fired from your “Scream” franchise. I mean, this is your job. It’s not just something that you love. It’s your work. And you didn’t back down. You were just like, yeah, this is who I am. This is what I stand for. And I’m wondering, why is it important for you, not just as an actor in Hollywood and as an artist, but as a human being, why was it important for you to say, this is what I’m feeling in this particular moment?

Y, para que vean, no me callo. I’m not going to be quiet. 

Melissa Barrera: I think I find myself, I found myself, I still am at a point in my life where I am reflecting a lot on like why I am here, why I got put on this earth and what I want to do to give my life true meaning and to feel like I came to help to make the world a better place.

I don’t know if that sounds too like wishy washy or like dreamy but that’s what I feel. At this point in my life. And I don’t know if it’s because I’m 33 years old. I’ve heard 33 is an age of a lot of reflection, energetically for a lot of people, but that’s what I’ve been feeling and so I found myself in this place of learning, in this place of looking at the world, also because I had a lot of time to do that because we were on a strike.

And so I wasn’t shooting and I had time to do research, and to read and to listen to experts, and so it became very clear to me that there was a lot of injustice happening. And if I have a platform and I don’t use it to call it out and to help spread some kind of seeds of waking up to seeing certain truths that have been hidden from us, because I know that I had to search for them.

So that means that if I didn’t know that there’s a lot of people out there that didn’t know, or that don’t know. And so I was like, “I just got to use my platform to speak out on it.” I knew that it was dangerous. I knew that there was going to be consequences, because I’m not an idiot, because I could see that no one was saying anything about it.

I could tell that there was something, like, that people were scared to talk about it. Almost no one in the industry was saying anything. And I was like, this is weird. And this is not right. And I just don’t want to be a part of that, of that silence and that chosen ignorance and that pretending like nothing is happening.

And I also, like, want to clarify that, I technically wasn’t fired because I hadn’t signed my contract because of the strike. So my contract was done, but I hadn’t signed it because I couldn’t because we were on strike. So technically,  they didn’t fire me. They just dropped me. They were just like, Oh…

Maria Hinojosa: Got you. 

Melissa Barrera: …Bye. And yeah, I think it’s, I think definitely, I believe in collective safety. So I believe that if we all just thought as a collective instead of as individuals, we would look out for each other more. If there’s only like one, or two, or three of us speaking out, then those three people are easier to target.

If it’s hundreds, thousands speaking out, then they can’t target you. Then that goes for every industry, everywhere, on every topic. So that’s something that I wish that people in positions of power with big platforms understood more and believed more in collective safety. (MUSIC) 

Maria Hinojosa: As you know, starring roles for Latinas and Latinos, so, so small. So just your thoughts on representation in Hollywood now. Are you feeling like the glass is definitely half empty or is it half full today? 

Melissa Barrera: I don’t know about any glass, you know, like I don’t want to think about it as like either good or bad.

I know that there have been steps in the direction of more representation made, but it’s not nearly enough. We haven’t been able to crack the code of why, when we get our stuff made, it doesn’t feel like it’s being supported in mainstream, and so then it ends up being canceled or it ends up flopping, and then therefore that becomes a precedent of like, things with Latinos don’t really work. So let’s not do these things that we were planning on doing, let’s cancel those projects. There’s a part of me that thinks that we have to stop talking about it. So that it just becomes an unspoken thing, which is kind of what happened with “Scream.” They didn’t cast me and people were like, “the Mexican lead of Scream.”

Like that didn’t happen. And so it didn’t become a huge thing, but it was representation. And Jenna and I were there. And so we’re Jasmine and Mason representing as Black people in a franchise that for the first time had like four leads that were all people of color,  which was awesome, but it wasn’t the headline of any “Scream” things.

Sometimes I think that that’s what our community needs. But then there’s also a part of me that says like, “It’s important to keep calling them out for the lack of representation.” So we gotta keep saying like, all these studies that come out of like: The percentage of actual leads of color in the movies of the year and all of that.

And like, it’s always very depressing information. So I appreciate the people that are doing those studies, but there’s a part of me as a Mexican that kind of knows the Mexican psyche and like what we’re attracted to and what we reject that feels like we just kind of have to stop making a big deal out of it when it happens. 

Maria Hinojosa: And just do it. 

Melissa Barrera: And just do it.

Maria Hinojosa: And what, what it’s saying to me is that you’re not letting up. You know that it’s all about the work. You are a Mexican like me, which means we never say no to work. You know, you got a job. Sure. We’ll take that job. Which leads me to my final question for you. So, cómo te estás cuidando? How are you practicing some self-care these days?

Melissa Barrera: Well, first of all, you’ll be happy to know that my husband just moved to Austin, officially. So now we’re together for the first time in… 

Maria Hinojosa: Yei!

Melissa Barrera: … For the first time in like, I don’t know, like seven years? That we haven’t lived together. So yeah, it’s very exciting. He just moved to Austin. He’s starting his butcher business here.

Maria Hinojosa: You heard right. He’s a butcher and a singer. 

Melissa Barrera: He’s a butcher and a singer. Yeah. And, uh, and so he’s starting his business here and now we’re together, which is really nice. It’s really nice to like go to bed with him and wake up with him every day. It feels like a real marriage. It feels like, you know, like. “Oh, wow. I’ve been actually married for five years, but for the first time, we’re like living like a married couple,” which is really nice. 

Maria Hinojosa: Aw! 

Melissa Barrera: That’s a big part of like what keeps me grounded in saying him, just having him to talk to, to unload with, to vent with. He’s my biggest cheerleader, and so. He’s always like giving me pep-talks and making me feel better, and, and I’ve been doing therapy. Obviously it’s so important. I feel like as a Latina woman, investing in yourself is kind of like a no, no. You feel guilty when you spend on yourself or when you’re investing in yourself, you kind of, it’s like save, save, save, spend on others, but never on you. So I’ve decided that this year was going to be the year to invest in myself.

And so I’ve been doing a lot of like cryotherapy and, and a lot of training. I know that you train a lot too. Being active in my body and physical really helps me every day. And just being connected to my family. It’s in like the darkest moments when you realize who’s there for you. And who isn’t, because you always know that your family is your family, but when they really show up for you in unexpected ways, just put everything in perspective.

And I just kind of realized, like, I really just have to spend more time taking care of those relationships. 

Maria Hinojosa: I love that. Pues muchas felicidades for everything and continue on the work. And we really appreciate it. And you do have a voice and people listen. 

Melissa Barrera: Thank you so much. This was so nice. I really, really appreciate it.

And it was so nice seeing your face again. 

Maria Hinojosa: Muchas gracias, mamita. 

Melissa Barrera: A ti. 

(MUSIC) 

This episode was produced by Nour Saudi and edited by Andrea López-Cruzado. It was mixed by Julia Caruso. The Latino USA team also includes Victoria Estrada, Reynaldo Leaños Jr., Glorima Márquez, Marta Martínez, Mike Sargent and Nancy Trujillo. Peniley Ramírez is our co-executive producer. Our director of engineering is Stephanie Lebow.

Our marketing manager is Luis Luna. Our theme music was composed by Xenia Rubiños. I’m your host and executive producer, Maria Hinojosa. Join us again on our next episode. In the meantime, look for us on all of your social media, including TikTok, Instagram, X, and YouTube. Ciao! !No te vayas! 

Sthepanie Lebow: Latino USA is made possible in part by The Ford Foundation, working with visionaries on the front lines of social change worldwide.

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. And The Tao Foundation. (MUSIC) 

Melissa Barrera: Is that your daughter?

Maria Hinojosa: No!

Melissa Barrera: It looks like your daughter. 

Maria Hinojosa: It’s Claudia Scheinbaum. 

Melissa Barrera: Oh my God, Maria! 

Maria Hinojosa: (LAUGHS) It’s a doll. 

Melissa Barrera: Oh my god. 

Maria Hinojosa: It’s a doll. I just interviewed her, and Xochitl. 

Melissa Barrera: Oh good! 

Maria Hinojosa: We’re doing a one-hour documentary. You know, we like to do politics, Melissa. (LAUGHS) 

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