Actress, immigration-reform activist Guerrero tells her story at Tuesday’s ULS 

Activist and “Orange is the New Black” star Diane Guerrero will discuss her life and advocacy journey in the upcoming University Lecture Series Tuesday at 7 p.m. on Microsoft Teams. Larry D. Moore/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

Actress, activist and author Diane Guerrero, best known for her roles in “Orange is the New Black” and “Jane the Virgin,” will speak about her hardships growing up and discovering her passion for acting at Tuesday’s University Lecture Series (ULS).

The event, hosted by the Campus Activities Board, will be held from 7-8 p.m. on Microsoft Teams and pre-registration is not required. Guerrero will be paid $25,000 to speak , according to Student Programs Coordinator for the Center for Student Involvement Isabelle Arroyo-Acevedo. 

The discussion will be moderated by Gabriela Cruz, a graduate student in the USF College of Public Health. The event will begin with a 45-minute discussion between Cruz and Guerrero followed by a 15-minute session for audience questions, according to Arroyo-Acevedo.

Guerrero is going to speak about overcoming obstacles, as she has encountered many in her own life. 

She was born in New Jersey in 1986 to undocumented immigrants. Both of Guerrero’s parents were deported back to Colombia when she was 14 years old, leaving her orphaned in Boston. She was never checked on by government officials to see if she was surviving on her own, eventually influencing her to advocate for reforms to immigration and deportation systems. 

Her 2016 memoir, “In the Country We Love,” detailed her days as a young adult finishing high school while relying on the support and charity of friends, going to Regis College in Massachusetts and eventually discovering a love of acting.

Alongside author Erica Moroz, Guerrero wrote another book, “My Family Divided: One Girl’s Journey of Home, Loss, and Hope,” giving insight into a child’s perspective of family separation and deportation. 

Her books inspired a television drama on CBS, which she was set to star in, until the network ultimately passed on it. Guerrero played Maritza Ramos in “Orange is the New Black” for which she and her castmates won Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series at the Screen Actors Guild Awards in 2015, 2016 and 2017. 

Guerrero published an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times in 2015 which began her advocacy journey. The op-ed detailed being left behind and alone in America as a young girl, and provided commentary on the U.S. immigration system. This ultimately led to her becoming an ambassador and volunteer for the Immigration Legal Resource Center, which educates individuals about problems in the immigration community. 

In recognition of her advocacy, she was named a Presidential Ambassador for Citizenship and Naturalization by former President Barack Obama in 2015. At the 2018 Phillip Burton Immigration and Civil Rights Awards, she was also recognized for her endeavors to fix issues with immigration in the U.S. and the work that she continues to do to bring awareness to problems caused by the country’s deportation process.