There’s something so special about authenticity and unapologetically being yourself that is praised and often resonates with the world. Maybe it’s the admiration for a confident, yet unwavering personality in an industry where conforming to standards has everyone looking damn near identical. Maybe it’s the fact that in that individuality are traits and struggles that are reminiscent of ourselves, people we may know, and life’s situations. We see how well being genuine worked for Cardi B., and judging from the controversy and recurrent mention in headlines, it seems the next person in line is Amara La Negra, the breakout star of “Love and Hip Hop Miami.”
Despite lifelong experience in the Latin market’s entertainment industry, Amara, born Dana Danelys De Los Santos, signed on to the Mona Scott Young franchise to broadcast her crossover to the American market. Unbeknownst to her, this world would first know her for her stance on colorism, which became evident during her encounter with Young Hollywood, a producer who advised that to garner success, her look should be “a little more Beyoncé, a little less Macy Gray.”
Since then, she’s been the face of colorism, a topic that had only briefly been mentioned by celebrities, like the time Azaleia Banks attributed Cardi’s success to her lighter skin or that instance when Kodak Black said he’d much rather date lighter skinned women despite his own dark complexion. The difference this time, however, is that it sparked a global conversation. Amara’s experience is more than just a memory being recounted or an assumption being made. It doesn’t involve discrediting someone else in the process. It’s finally being discussed at length. We actually watched it happening.
During recent interviews, Amara La Negra has schooled the world on colorism, particularly in Latin countries. Here are a few of the things we’ve learned about it, about her, and about her reaction to the attention colorism is finally getting.
1. She’s been talking about colorism for years and had no idea it would suddenly blow up.
“I never thought that me talking about it would open this conversation. I never thought it would be this big but I’m grateful,” she told Latino USA. “I’ve been talking about it for years and nobody really paid attention to me.”
2. Celia Cruz was the only idol she had that looked like her. When she passed, she found some general inspiration in others.
“Growing up, I never saw anyone who looked like me besides Celia Cruz. She was such a strong, powerful woman. She was a very inspirational person.”….”When Celia Cruz passed away, there was no one else to really look up to as an Afro-Latino or Afro-Latina on TV. So, I went and became a fan of Whitney Houston, Tina Turner, Donna Summers, who are truly talented women and I truly admire them. But, as far as the Latin community, we really didn’t have anyone to look up to.” -Latino USA
3. Like most L&HH artists, she actually is into the music and she does it well.
Some of her Latin singles include “Ayy” and “Quitate La Ropa.” Not to mention, she just signed to global entertainment and literary agent United Talent Agency! “I am excited to embark on this new extension in my career with UTA,” Amara tells Billboard. “With a team expanding that represents my brand and what I, as an entertainer represent, it feels amazing to have a brand with such a dynamic and diverse spectrum believe in me.”
4. She used to be a Zumba instructor.
“Before I began focusing a 1000 percent on my career, I was a Zumba instructor and I am still certified to instruct. I use to weigh 230 pounds. My mom and I were going through a really depressing time and I found comfort in eating,” she confessed. “So when I decided to change my life for the better, I stopped eating pizza, which I love, and I started dancing like three to four hours a day and naturally lost the weight. Dancing is all that I need. If I could dance my life away in sweat, I would be satisfied. I also train with King Fitness.” – BET Style
5. Her mom is number one fan and motivation.
“We have to have a solid reason for what we do, a purpose. Everything I do, I do for my mother. My mother works in a kitchen and when I see her come home with burns on her arms and chest, I am motivated to keep going. She always acts like it doesn’t hurt to stay strong for me so I don’t feel bad. But I know how much she has sacrificed for me, so no matter what, I have to keep reaching for the stars and not get discouraged.” – XONecole
6. She’s been in novelas, where she also experienced the disadvantages of colorism.
“I’ve been in novelas, but the roles that are carved out for us are more often than not stereotypical. You’re a slave, a drug addict, a gangster, or a murderer — that kind of roles. It’s tough to land a serious role. And anytime I say stuff like this, people are in shock. Like they can’t believe I just said racism is alive or something. Listen, I can only speak from my own personal experience.”-Latina
7. Being in beauty pageants helped build her confidence.
“I think that in that moment, I learned that in order to win beauty pageants, you have to look and walk a certain way. But now that I know better, I think that it did have an impact on my thoughts of beauty, but now I realize that none of that matters,” Amara shares. “After living a fake lifestyle of what society considers a beauty standard, I realize that I am beautiful because I naturally am.””It helped me to build confidence and, at an early age, it helped me express and be the sassy girl that I am,” she mentioned. – BET Style
8. She believes there’s a lack of representation of Afro-Latinas despite their presence in the community.
“I just feel like there’s this standard of beauty in the entertainment industry that you have to look a certain type of way in order to be “pretty.” Your hair needs to be straight and silky in order to be pretty. Or, if you’re Latina, you have to look like J. Lo, Sofia Vergara, Shakira. But when you look like me, ‘Oh, you don’t look Latina enough.’ What does that even mean? There isn’t a Latin country that doesn’t have people that look like myself, so why aren’t we on magazines? Why aren’t we in movies?” – The Breakfast Club
9. She wants to be a face for younger people that look like her.
“Let me tell you something: I had a 6-year-old girl who came to one of the viewings for Love & Hip Hop and she was crying. And she said that people have treated her badly because of her [skintone]. Kids do understand that there is colorism and they need a role model that lets them know that they do not have to change themselves in order to be beautiful,” she explains. “I take on the challenge of being a role model. I know that I will not always be perfect. I do make mistakes but I want my message to be that beauty is not based on your color.” – BET Style
10. She believes colorism in Latin America is slightly worse than it is in the US.
“Afro-Latinas and I in general don’t have a movement. We don’t have a Martin Luther King Jr., or a Malcolm X, or a Black Lives Matter movement. We don’t have people who are fighting for our place. And I’m sick of us feeling like we’re ignored because nobody says anything. We just take it. And I don’t think it should be like that.” – OK Magazine
11. She thinks it was God given role to speak on colorism.
“I feel honestly like God has given me the blessing to really bring to light a really important issue that has been in the shadows for a very long time not just for Afro Latinas, but for African Americans who have been dealing with it forever and Black people throughout the Diaspora. For me, it’s about fairness, representation and creating a balance in entertainment that is reflected of our diverse population and various looks.”-XO Nicole
Isn’t she lovely? Follow Amara on Instagram @amaralanegraln to keep her with her music and activism.
Written By: Sweenie Nicole