I am sure, those of you in the US and Canada, have seen all the previews for the new ABC show, Ugly Betty, based on the Colombian telenovela Yo Soy Betty la Fea. The young lady playing the title role is America Ferrera, the Honduran-American (well USAmerican, of Honduran immigrant parents), 22-year-old actress who has got to be one of my favorite actresses right now. I loved her in her debut role, as the leading character in HBO's Real Women have curves, not only because she is gorgeous, but also and more importantly for the quality of her acting. And I am not alone in saying this: She won a Sundance Film Festival award for her performance, and other awards too.
Moreover, her beauty is not the conventional, fashion-magazine type: she is a thicker, Latina woman. Yet, she is simply stunning, both in her shapes, her face, and those thin, almond-shaped eyes that are positively endearing, and charming, and simply ... beautiful! A true beauty, in the likes of Queen Latifah, Raven Simone, Jennifer Lopez, Selena and other women who are not afraid of reflecting their beauty through... their curves (imagine that!), and who are more than willing to grace us with their talents.
See where I come from, in Congo, men (and, I am sure, the very closeted Lesbian women), appreciate women of all shapes and sizes. Beauty is not - strike that, was not, until the Western magazine started flooding the markets - limited to any particular model, established by the media. People have the lattitude to decide for themselves what/who they consider, with some general consensus in the end, but no overbearing pressure to conform. Except with skin color, particularly since the 80's. There was/is a nasty movement of skin-bleaching, in response to this age-old Euro-born complex, associating lighter-skin with beautiful. And this is the ultimate irony, because nowadays, White people often would kil (figuratively) for a tan. Go figure... But nevertheless, if one should examine the general consensus on beauty back home, one would find thick women, thin women, big and small breasted women, dark and light-skined, etc. And America, in my humble opinion, has nothing to envy from the Halle Berry, Victoria Beckam, Penelope Cruz, and other beautiful, skinny celebrities.
America is a rising star, and I particularly admire her professional flair: it is quite a courageousstep to accept the role of a so-called "ugly woman", in the acting business, because to some degree, that sticks to you, like any controversial/disfigurment role. The title role in Monster definitely stuck to my fellow African Charlize Theron's image, Felicity Huffman will definitely be remembered for her trangedered role in TransAmerica, and I personally cannot dissociate Jack Nicholson and his character as the Joker, in Batman. So it is somewhat of a calculated risk, for America to take on a role that quite likely will stick with her for the rest of her life. And I say calculated, because the added exposure, including the association with such celebrities as the beautiful Vanessa Williams, and Salma Hayek, can only be good for her career. But even more to my point here, it takes a woman with a lot of confidence in herself, to be willing to take on the persona of what society sees as "ugly". And that is the quality I admire from this woman. She is determined to succeed, and she is ready to hold her own, and she is just beautiful!
Hell, I am just going to say it: I want to marry America Ferrera!
Ugly Betty premieres on September 28th, 2006, on ABC (US) and Ciitv (Canada).