In an age of unprecedented global migration, it is inevitable that our cultural identities will continue to get more and more complex. From the dilemma of defining your identity as a “Third Culture Kid,” a scenario where children spend their formative years outside of their parents’ native homeland, to dealing with the complexity of pegging down your identity as an expatriate or an immigrant to a new land, the path to defining identity amongst all that can be daunting, and uncertain.
“I wanted to play people who were complex and multidimensional, people who existed in the center of their own lives. Not cardboard cutouts that stood in the background of someone else’s.” tweet
More often than not, this path is marked by interactions that unearth rampant pre-conceived notions of different racial groups. But surely identity is more complex than a one dimensional preconceived notion? Surely human beings in all their complexity can’t be filed away in neat little boxes? And yet, compounded identities perceived in this overly simplified way result in the feeling that they are an obstacle to overcome, or a part of an authentic “you” that needs to be suppressed. Just a little bit. Just enough to fit in.
In this gripping, anecdotal Ted Talk by actress America Ferrera, we hear about the complexity of her journey. She speaks about the types of roles that existed for her, often poorly written stereotypes. So far off the rich reality of her existence and the types of characters she had always dreamed of playing. “I wanted to play people who were complex and multidimensional, people who existed in the center of their own lives. Not cardboard cutouts that stood in the background of someone else’s,” she states. The message was clear — that her identity was an obstacle to overcome. So how do we overcome thinking like this? How can we move past this? Watch to find out.