27 6 / 2012
This was my second post on my deceased blog - “Alien in New York”
There’s a reason why this blog is called “Alien in New York”. Well, the New York part I’m sure you’ve already figured out but why Alien? That’s exactly what we’re going to talk about today.
Let’s start from the basics. When a foreigner enters the United States of America, whether he’s an immigrant, non-immigrant or even illegal… he’s an alien. The definition of alien in Wikipedia is “a non-citizen inhabitant of a country”. Well, that’s me. Also, being Portuguese didn’t help changing this Alien status… because usually people are categorized by their nationality like “the Spanish girl, the Indian dude, the French actress, the Russian immigrant…” but that’s because they know (more or less) where these countries are on the map. Portugal is a different story. Usually people don’t know where it is, or think it’s a part of Spain, or even think it’s in South America. I’ve had people asking me “You’re from Portugal, so you speak…?”. Yep, it’s true and it can be annoying. Or just funny (Americans should really invest in Geography education!)
So by saying you’re Portuguese, you might fall into the category of “exotic” immigrant (although Portugal is everything but exotic), European (which is almost an upgrade) or you just remain an alien.
But the actual FUN part begins before all that: when people try to figure out where your accent is from. 1 out of 1000 is able to guess where I’m from. I’ve had guesses that go from Russia to almost every Eastern European country, Greece, Italy, Brazil (which is a GREAT guess of course) but most people don’t even dare to guess… They ask “Where is that accent from?” as if you’re a rare breed of alien, from a planet they didn’t even know it existed.
Then you ask : “What’s wrong with that?!”
Well, this would all be very entertaining if I hadn’t chosen to be an actress in New York. It’s amazing to be “exotic and rare” when you’re a lawyer, engineer, architect, writer, producer because that doesn’t really matter… but when you’re an actor you need to be categorized. You need a shelf to belong to. I don’t have one. You need to have an ethnicity and an accent that fits that “ethnicity”. You need to be a stereotype. You are either Caucasian, Hispanic, African-American, Asian, Indian. I thought I was Caucasian before I moved here. I’ve learned I’m not. But I’m not quite Hispanic either. Sometimes I’m Eastern European. Sometimes I’m Hispanic or Latina (still trying to figure out the differences between those two). Mediterranean (whatever that means..), everything. But in the end I’m nothing at all. I’m me. I’m an alien in New York.
I’ll open up a shelf just for me. And then everyone else will want to belong there. That’s my plan.
To be continued…