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Julissa Calderón. Photo: EFE
Julissa Calderón. Photo: EFE

Julissa Calderon, an Afro-Latino willing to "make history"

The actress and comedian will be the host of the Premios Juventud, to be held on August 13, and hopes to set an example for the Dominican community, especially…

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An influence with a cause, that's actress Julissa Calderon, who has become a true inspiration for Afro-Latino women in the United States.

For this reason, not only will she be honored for her positive influence — an award she will share with singer Ricky Martin — but the Premios Juventud, which is organized by Univision, has chosen her as its master of ceremonies for the new edition to be held on August 13. 

"This is very big, but we will really see its magnitude 10 to 15 years from now, when the little black girls who see Premios Juventud with their families are adults and remember the first time they saw someone who looked like them conducting such an important show," said Calderon, who is overjoyed as she finally begins to see the fruit of her years of work.

"I feel very happy, but not just for me. Many people get into this world (of entertainment) because of their personal ambitions, but what I want to do is leave a legend about the contributions of Dominicans in this country," added the 31-year-old actress.

Many 'Latinidades'

When Julissa moved to Los Angeles seven years ago to fulfill her dream of becoming an actress, she suffered a real culture shock. 

Having grown up between New York and Miami, the Dominican realized that there was a big difference between Latinos on the two coasts and that in Los Angeles, where most Hispanics are of Mexican descent, there was a great deal of ignorance about "how we Dominicans are." 

That discovery, coupled with the melancholy she felt, prompted her to record videos on YouTube talking about her family life that not only shed light on Latino diversity but were so successful that Buzzfeed gave her the opportunity to have her own series. 

Today, Pero Like has more than 100 million views and is a reference point, although the Caribbean woman admits that "I also realized that we Dominicans and Caribbean people don't know much about how Mexicans live, which is the majority."

The face of the Hispanic world

Best known for her role as Jessika, Ana's Afro-Latino and LGBTQ activist couple in Gentefied, Julissa confessed that her family is still shocked by the announcement that she will present the Youth Awards alongside artists Sebastian Yatra, Francisca Lachapel, Ana Patricia Gamez and Borja Voces. 

"Even my great-grandmother can't believe I was interviewed on Despierta América," she said, referring to Univision's morning show. 

For Calderon, the Latino channels, which her family has watched all their lives, are "part of that legacy," which is why it is important that they see her on television. Her efforts, she says, are dedicated to them as well. 

Not only are this year's Premios Juventud more diverse in terms of its hosts, they will also feature Amara La Negra, nominated in a very unique category, "De Pelos," which honors stars like Afro-Latinos who have reinvented themselves and learned to deal with their hair. 

This edition is also very special, especially because of the hard time the world is going through during the COVID-19 pandemic. That's why Univision also wanted to pay tribute not only to Latin music, but to the heroic people who have done their best to help and give their best.

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