Q&A with Smart People Actress Julee Cerda

Smart People, performed by Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre, opens this week! Don’t miss the Opening Night Party on June 15th! Just $35 covers your ticket, food, beverages and the opportunity to meet and party with Kenny Leon! Tickets available here.

1. What is interJulee-high resesting about the character you play in Smart People?
What is interesting about Ginny is that she defies every typical female Asian stereotype I know. And often with conviction. She is brash, unapologetic, and completely self-assured of her sexuality going as far as stating to her love prospect, “I just sleep around. But because I’m a slut. Not because I’m Asian.” At the same time, she cannot help but fall victim to one of the biggest Asian-American stereotypes we see in modern America today, which is that Asians are the “Model Minority”: especially acclaimed for their academic success and often associated as a “genius” or science/math wizard. As we learn with Ginny, she is the recipient of the Genius Grant and a well-respected tenured Harvard Psychology professor, which of course comes with it’s own assumptions and debilitating pressures.

2. Can you personally relate to your character?
Apart from the genius thing, yes. This is 100% me. Having been raised in America by first generation parents, I’ve come to develop my own voice mainly because, like Ginny, I consider myself an American. I’m also a “Twoken…proudly representing not one but two under-represented populations.” And I too strongly feel that Asian Americans are being constantly left out of dialogue on race.

3. Why is Smart People relevant to the world today?
Sadly, all too often I see people rolling their eyes as if saying “again?” whenever someone claims discrimination and/or racism. I don’t think they mean to do it. They are simply exhausted from having to listen about yet another case in the media, in the workplace, in the entertainment industry, in politics…the list goes on. That’s because, now, more than ever, we (minorities) are finally finding our collective voices and are speaking out AND are being heard. Obama became our first Black President. Hillary may very well be our first female President. Hamilton is killing it on Broadway. And Smart People continues that dialogue in a way that may be exhausting to some but certainly very necessary and important to many. 

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