Amara La Negra discussed the racism and colorism she said she has endured in the entertainment industry, the consequences of social media and the importance of her relationship with her mother, to a crowd of about 250 people in the Marshall Student Center Oval Theater on Tuesday night.
With frequent gratitude to her mother, La Negra shared with the audience how she became a confident Afro-Latina woman in America, which gave her opportunities such as starring in the show Love and Hip Hop: Miami.
La Negra was hesitant to mention her Dominican immigrant mother who lived in the U.S. without documentation, but she said that experience was an important aspect of her life because it shaped her into the person she is today.
La Negra remembers nights wiping her mother’s tears because of the number of jobs she said she worked with little to no pay and the fear of immigration being called to deport her.
Although she doesn’t know how to swim, ride a bike or roller-skate, La Negra is appreciative to her mother for taking on an extra job working at McDonald’s to support her singing and acting classes.
“I understand the sacrifices,” La Negra said. “Watching my mom work so hard most definitely did instill in me discipline, hard work and how to hustle.”
La Negra recalled the previous jobs that she described as “hustling” — working at Target, 7/11, as a background dancer and a receptionist at the Ritz-Carlton — before making it in the entertainment business. She rode both the train and the bus to make it to work just to be around what she called the “lavish lifestyle.”
“I wanted to work with the people — where the money was,” La Negra said. “If you are around rich people, something is going to stick.”
Although she said the workload was strenuous, La Negra said she wouldn’t be where she is without the sacrifices she made.
La Negra’s energetic attitude subsided when she discussed the negativity she faced from the entertainment industry and within her Dominican community.
When recalling the events about the prejudice she faced, La Negra rolled her eyes before starting to talk about the battle she had with her skin color at a young age.
La Negra said she had a hard time with accepting herself and said that she always felt like “a bug in the middle of a cup of milk.”
“We never really had Martin Luther King, we never had Malcolm X, we never had Rosa Parks,” La Negra said. “I feel like this generation needs it.”
According to La Negra, a producer negatively commented about her hair and said she was trying to be a “Nutella queen”. Also, she said she has had multiple instances where people sent mail to her P.O. box calling her a n*****.
“You may not understand that feeling, but I do and I had to understand that at a very young age,” La Negra said. “That’s why I am so passionate and I am an activist for my Afro-Latina community — I am an activist for anyone who is black period — you got me.”
La Negra said people never started paying attention to her when she spoke about racism and colorism until she was on the show Love and Hip Hop: Miami. She said she is currently filming Season 2 of the show, describing that the show is going to be, “more ratchet than ever.”
La Negra said she is thankful for her experiences in the entertainment industry, but because of the fear of missing opportunities, La Negra dropped out of college.
She studied mortuary science and switched to business administration. La Negra encouraged the audience to stay in school and light-heartedly told the room of mostly college students to not follow her footsteps. She added that she has intentions to go back to school and finish her degree.
Although La Negra is known for her outspoken demeanor, the audience seemed shocked to hear her say that she is shy in her personal life.
“On Instagram, you’ll see me doing all types of crazy stuff, but in real life, I would never,” La Negra said.
La Negra said that she thinks social media is to blame for the glamorous lifestyle people think she has. She said she rarely has time for herself because of her busy schedule.
“I don’t want to lose the fact that I am the same person on stage, off stage, on TV,” La Negra said. “I don’t put up a facade — if I got it, I got it and if I don’t, I don’t.”
La Negra’s said she fears the passage of time because of the long list of things she said she wants to accomplish and that her biggest fear is being forgotten.
“I want to be a legend — I want to make history, even if it takes sacrifice, I want other people to know that my life mattered and I was here with a purpose,” La Negra said.