Someday You Could Be…An Actor and Humanitarian like Shakira Barrera

By CJ Daley, AGE 11

Shakira Barrera. Photo by David Muller, IMDB.

Shakira Barrera is a Nicaraguan-American actress and humanitarian. You can catch her playing a role in the upcoming Marvel series, Ironheart. You can listen to the extended interview on our podcast, IndyKids Voices.

CJ: How do you feel about representation in Hollywood?

Shakira: To be honest, I’m kind of sick of talking about it. Because I feel like with people, you know, in the Black community, and the Latin X community, and even in the Asian community, there aren’t many roles for us. So when you do take on a role, they always ask the representation question. And it’s like, your responsibility to represent all of these masses of people that look like you. But I think it is just so difficult, especially for me as a Latina, I’m Nicaraguan but as you know, there are so many [Latinos]. There’s Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, Argentinians, Uruguayans… there’s so many. So I think that it’s such a difficult question to answer. I feel like, sometimes you could put the pressure on your shoulders. But in terms of representation in Hollywood, I think we can do better. Our stories should translate to everyone. And I find that there’s a lot of stories that just haven’t been told yet. And that’s what I’m excited to do is kind of to write my own stuff, and produce stories that are interesting to you that are interesting to me, and just in general, that you can connect to and something that you’ve never seen before. 

CJ: You made headlines when you wore the Nicaraguan flag at the Screen Actors Guild Awards in 2019. What encouraged you to do that?

Shakira: At the time, [in early 2019], there was a big war in Nicaragua and 500 people [had] died. And at the time, they can’t wave their flags proudly, there is no freedom of speech, you would be put in jail, you would be killed by the government… I wanted to make a statement. And I wanted it to just be bigger than just like one night at an award show, when I really didn’t even know if we were going to win or not. I didn’t really care.I wanted to merge my acting and the humanitarian side of me and make a statement and, and do something important. And after that a lot of you know the Nicaraguan community came to me, that’s actually how I found my Nicaraguan community. I wasn’t really close to my Nicaraguan community. I didn’t grow up there, I actually grew up in Jersey. So when they saw me, you know, come out with this flag, I think there was a lot of emotions, and back to your representation thing, that was important for them to see that it was possible that someone you know, who look like them, someone from that background, that type of Latino was represented. And it was important to people and I’ve worked with so many Nicaraguan organizations since that decision, so it was honestly one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

CJ: What changes do you hope to see in the world?

Shakira: I would love people to just be kinder with each other. And to understand all the information that’s out there There’s so much I feel like social media is so overwhelming. Sometimes we have all these apps, we see, we scroll and we see things that are going on, you know, in the war right now. And then we see like a tick tock dance, and there’s so much information. So what I would like to see is for all of us to kind of study and gather all that information before making an opinion. It’s easy to just see something and react, and hide behind the phone or not have the conversation. What I would like people to do more is keep informed, have those conversations, and do the thing that’s just a little bit harder. 

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