America Ferrera Is Talking ‘Bout a Cultural Revolution

Please note: This transcript has been automatically generated.

Brittany Packnett Cunningham Hey, y’all, it’s Brittany…[SIGHS] Look, it’s still “happy New Year” over here, cause can-no-insurrection-take-our-joy. This Georgia win…baby! We are going to shine the light today. So remember back in November, when THE Ms. LaTosha Brown, the co-founder of Black Voters Matter, was with us here on undistracted 

LaTosha Brown The decision is not up to the political parties. The real decision is up to us. The answer is not outside of us. The answer is us. And when we show up in our agency, in our power, we are going to see this entire country, this entire nation change, including the politics. 

Brittany Well, Well, well LaTosha and all her friends in Georgia came back to show us just how true that is. Hey, y’all, Black voters used a runoff system that was literally built to disenfranchise them to do it. I am feeling every feel there is. Reverend Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff—a Black man and a Jewish man—will be senators from a former confederate state. And then to top it all off Kamala Harris—the MVP herself—will be the tie-breaking Senate vote. I can’t wait, because every vote is going to be delicious. We have Black voters and Black organizers and multi-racial coalitions of freedom-fighters to thank for this. And not just with our words, but with our work. And the work is honestly going to have to be tireless, y’all, because whenever oppressed people stand up right to abuse, the blow back is 10 times worse.

I am very sure GOP voter suppression is about to be like at an all-time high, but here’s the gospel: there’s a LaTosha, and a Stacey Abrams, and a Stephanie Young, and a Cliff Albright, and a Jessica Bird, and a Fair Fight, and a Black Voters Matter, and a New Georgia Project in every single state. And if you didn’t know them, folks, now you know, so between them and the lessons of the presidential election and now really the Georgia runoffs to give us the confidence boost we need, let’s get all up in the mix. Our voices should be in state Houses, and governors mansions, and this White House to come for all the justice that’s ours. We are undistracted.


Brittany Packnett Cunningham On the show today…America Ferrera. I will be talking to the Emmy and Golden Globe-winning actor about her new political initiative She Se Puede and what she’s doing to empower, Latinx voters, not just in the immediate lead-up before the elections.  

America Ferrera Dude, like parading “Ugly Betty,” you know, in the last three weeks of an election is not a strategy.

Brittany Packnett Cunningham That’s coming up, but first it’s your “UNtrending News.”


Brittany Packnett Cunningham So amidst all the police inaction and permissiveness, we saw Wednesday on Capitol Hill, at least D.C. mayor, Muriel Bowser—a Black woman—tried to do something about it. We now know that she had actually called in the National Guard to the city back on New Year’s Eve days before the Capitol storming took place. And remember Donald Trump advertised this day on his Twitter page about a month ago, and unlike the police she took that threat seriously, but her request was met with a fraction of the number of National Guard’s people she’d asked for. And when she requested more on the actual day of the insurrection Donald Trump initially refused, because he only wants to deploy the National Guard when it suits him. Here’s what the mayor said and she was not the only one wondering this. 

Mayor Muriel Bowser We must understand why the federal law enforcement response was much stronger at the protest over the summer than during yesterday’s attack on Congress.

Brittany Packnett Cunningham Now I have a lot of questions—a lot of open questions—for Mayor Bowser about how she deals with protests in this city and the responses that she hasn’t had for local organizers and activists in the Black Lives Matter movement. But there is a distinct difference between how she responded in this moment and how Donald Trump continued to encourage the insurrection that he had incited.

Mayor Muriel Bowser The current president must be held accountable for this unprecedented attack on our democracy. 

Brittany Packnett Cunningham If this isn’t an argument for D.C. statehood and self-determination, I don’t know what it is. 


Brittany Packnett Cunningham Next I want you to cast your mind back to what feels like a million years ago, but it was just last weekend. 

President Donald Trump I just want to find 11,780 votes.

Brittany Packnett Cunningham All the way back to that wild phone call between Brad Raffensperger, the Georgia Secretary of State, and now outgoing and impeached president, Donald J. Trump. Trump, remember, wanted Brad Raffensperger to just magically find votes. Raffensperger refused. 

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger Well, Mr. President, the challenge that you have is the data you have is wrong.

Brittany Packnett Cunningham And then in a juicy tidbit released the entire tape to the public to cover himself when Trump lied about what happened on the call on Twitter, I know it sounds like a Housewives reunion. So here’s the thing: after this happened, everybody on Twitter was jumping in to say what a patriot and hero Raffensperger was for literally doing his job and refusing to let Trump coerce him.

But the truth is that Brad Raffensperger is just as bad of a vote suppressor as Donald J. Trump is—he’s just more old-school with his. Brad Raffensperger has called for the end of no excuse absentee balloting and he’s called for stricter voter ID requirements for mail-in ballots. He’s promised to make some serious voter suppression plays when the Georgia state legislators come back in session and after November saw record voter turnout across Georgia, he had the unmitigated gall to open an investigation into a number of voter mobilization groups as in the people who register people to vote. So I ask you, is this your king? Honestly, y’all, can we just leave over-hyping mediocre white men for doing the bare minimum like back in 2020.

Lots of Trumpers, including Raffensperger—cause he voted for the man— they’re going to be charged to rehabilitate their image in the public while they keep disenfranchising us in private. And there are no cookies waiting for you here in polite society, my guy. While folks are applauding your dubious heroism, I’ll be supporting the Black and Brown organizers who stand up for us all the time, against death threats, when it’s not even convenient. 


Brittany Packnett Cunningham Finally,  RuPaul is starting off the new year with a positive move. When the 13th season of “Drag Race,” which is fantastic, premiered on January the 1st, fans noticed that one of RuPaul’s famous taglines is now more gender-inclusive. So for the past 11 years, RuPaul has kicked off competitions by saying:

RuPaul Gentlemen, start your engines and may the best woman win. 

Brittany Packnett Cunningham But in this recent episode, RuPaul said 

RuPaul Racers, start your engines and may the best drag queen win. 

Brittany Packnett Cunningham The change is a welcome step for fans: the show has been criticized for previously not allowing trans contestants, for using transphobic phrases, and for offering—in general—a really narrow cis male view of drag communities. But now in season 13, the show features its first trans man contestant, Gottmik, and two non-binary queens will be in the upcoming second season of “Drag Race UK.” I love this story because it’s a reminder that all of us have room to grow. Even those spaces that look like they are inclusive to the naked eye deserve a second, third, fourth look. It’s not about perfection, it’s about intention and accountability, and I’m excited to see where this first step goes from here. 

Coming up. I’ll be talking to “Ugly Betty” and “Superstore” actor and activist America Ferrera about working to inspire and politically empower Latina women.


Brittany Packnett Cunningham Y’all know it took a village to unearth the Blue that existed in Georgia. A lot of it was inspired by the leadership of Black women and multi-racial coalitions, women of color, Latina women. They were knocking on hundreds of thousands of doors, making millions of texts and calls. And my guest today has been working tirelessly to get out the Latinx vote, although America Ferrera may be best known to you for starring in “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” or maybe from her groundbreaking work playing Betty Suarez on the TV show “Ugly Betty.”

                [America Ferrera as Betty Suarez] I have tons of ideas. I’m always jotting stuff down on the subway, but I’m getting ahead of myself, sir. All I really want is a chance—any position or publication.

Brittany Packnett Cunningham That’s right. America Ferrera has been busting stereotypes about Latina women onscreen throughout her entire career, really, but offscreen, she’s been just as busy working for progressive change. And most recently, America teamed up with other Latina leaders to launch She Se Puede a new digital platform to empower the so often overlooked community of Latina women and Latinx voters. So I spoke to America on Wednesday in the, you know, cheerful, optimistic, sunny morning, before all hell broke loose. Democrat Raphael Warnock had been projected to be the winner in his race; and Jon Ossoff, at the time, his win was also looking very likely. Of course, now we know it has been projected, so let’s go back there right now.

Brittany Packnett Cunningham America! Thank you so, so much for being here on this great day. 

America Ferrera It’s a great day to be talking to you, Brittany. 

Brittany Packnett Cunningham How are you feeling right now? 

America Ferrera Uh, super emotional. I’ve burst into tears a couple of times this morning. I’m so grateful to the incredible organizers who have been working for over a decade to make this happen. You know, this is not something that happened in an election year. This is not something that even happened in response to Trump. This was a vision for what was possible for Georgia and enfranchising voters who did not feel excited to take part in the political process. It’s been over a decade and this is what’s possible. So all I can think about today is the years and the hours and the mileage put in by the organizers on the ground in Georgia and how they had the audacity to hope that this could be a reality and thank God that they did because they have transformed their state and they have also transformed the country at this moment.

Brittany Packnett Cunningham So you, Mónica Ramírez, Carmen Perez, my girl Jess Morales Rocketto and others— you all launched the organization She Se Puede in the lead up to the presidential election, but to my understanding it’s been in the works since 2018. So how did that platform come about? What was the goal? 

America Ferrera Well, you know, the goal was…it really was born of frustration, to be honest, a frustration that in election after election Latino voters are so often an afterthought and it’s this self-fulfilling prophecy that, you know, that Latino voters don’t show up, therefore they’re not invested in, therefore they don’t show up. And the message is just this loop of that we don’t matter, that we don’t make a difference—and nothing could be further from the truth. We are 32 million eligible Latinx voters in this year’s election and I think first time in history that Latinos have been the majority minority voting block and, you know, demography is not destiny, just because our numbers exist does not mean that our community is resourced and informed and empowered and enthusiastic about showing up for the political process and using their power.

And again, you know, you got to give it to organizers on the ground—in Arizona, in Georgia, in Nevada—who have been transforming what the Latino electorates looks like there, you know? So to answer your question about what really spawns She Se Puede: it was this frustration that any given election year or candidate or campaign was not really invested in the long-term power building of the Latino electorate. And one of our co-founders Stephanie Valencia, who worked in the Obama administration, she founded a research lab called  Equis to better understand the Latino electorate in the way that we understand, you know, white, suburban mom voters, you know, like how much energy, how much time, how much money has been invested in understanding particular voters that hasn’t been invested in understanding this growing Latino electorate, because we are not a monolith, you know, we come from such different cultural backgrounds, political realities, however long we’ve been in this country, whether or not, you know, we crossed the border or the border crossed us, you know, there are so many differences among the Latino electorate and there’s been so little focus on understanding how to engage them as voters, how to give them the tools to use the political power that they have and that type of investment is not going to happen in one election cycle, it is not going to be the charge of any one given candidate. You know, Eva Longoria, one of my co-founders, and I would just laugh at how we could set our clocks by our phones ringing off the hook, like a month before an election of like, “can you come out and get voters out?” and it’s like, “dude, like parading ‘Ugly Betty,’ you know, in the last three weeks of an election is not a strategy,” like it’s a failing strategy, like please spend more time thinking about how you’re going to empower this growing electorate. And so at She Se Puede it is non-partisan and it’s not about any given election it’s, you know…We started in 2020—yes—but knew from the beginning that this was a long view, this is a 25-, 50-year, 100-year view of how we shift our culture. And in the way our community sees its own power and uses it. 

Brittany Packnett Cunningham I also love that one of my heroes Dolores Huerta, of course, inspired the name of the organization from her iconic phrase in ’72 ¡Si Se Puede!” I’d heard that she gave you her blessing on this. 

America Ferrera Yeah, of course. I mean, we’ve all been deeply inspired by Dolores who is 90 now and just unstoppable, you know, she’s unstoppable. She exhausts me! The number of rallies and Zoom meetings and she’s like, “Can you do just one more?” I’m like “Dolores, I don’t understand how you’re doing this—you’re 90. Like I’m exhausted.” She’s inspired so many of us to keep showing up and to do the work. And so, you know, of course we, we would want her blessing and she gave it to us wholeheartedly and is, you know, she’s our madrina, she’s a godmother to us, and we’re just so lucky to still have her living and in the flesh being such an example of somebody who has never ever expected anyone from the outside to come in and empower our community. You know, I think that the realization here is: no one is more invested in the empowerment of our community than we are. And really what sparked the conversation for She Se Puede was how are we going to take responsibility for turning out our Latino community. The data that we’ve been so lucky to collect because of Stephanie and her work at Equis shows us that, you know, Latinas women in our community are much more reliable. They do make up the numbers on their own and incredibly important areas across the country. They make up numbers to be deciders in these elections.

And as we know for women across communities, you know, when you empower women, women show up for their families, they show up for their communities. You know, Eva always says Latinas were the CEOs of our households. You know, we run things. So if you empower a Latina, you empower her whole family. 

Brittany Packnett Cunningham Yeah. I love that. Back to Georgia for a second, because even before the polls opened on Tuesday, Latinos had already shattered their previous, you know, best turnout numbers for runoff election. So what kind of things have actually been working? What have you been doing to mobilize Latina and Latinx voters in the lead up to this important runoff election? 

America Ferrera Yes, it was historic! It was historic for Latino voters in Georgia and back nearly a decade ago when those “show me your papers” laws started popping up in Georgia, you had organizers like GLAHR on the ground educating and mobilizing Latinos to stand up and to fight back. And so it’s organizations like GLAHR, Mijente, and they formed a coalition for this election called Georgia Con Ganas which is an amazing Spanish saying that’s basically like do it with gusto—it’s like hard to translate—that means like, you know, do it with all you got. And again, you know, those organizers have been on the ground like they’re out there reaching our people, reaching them where they’re at knocking on doors that have never been knocked on before. You know, our communities are not any different than any other communities. We engage with the process to the extent that the process engages us. And our community has not been engaged with. And so to knock on these doors and to speak to voters in their language, to talk to them about what’s at stake, to remind them of the power they have, you know, it’s not rocket science. You know, white communities are not expected to show up for a process that doesn’t reflect them: they see themselves reflected in the candidates; they see themselves reflected wherever they’re at, whether that’s our workplace or their community; there are flyers and people knocking on their doors…And you know, when that’s not the reality in your community, the burden then becomes on you to find your way into the process.

And that’s not a burden that exists equally for all communities. So this organizing, this meeting people where they’re at—is the magic sauce. And so there is no shortcut—it’s people on the ground. And I think what’s exciting about the Latinx electorate is there is so much potential, there’s so much possibility.

You know, we are a YOUNG community. We average younger than the the average American. We are a growing generation and are very much a large part of the future of this country. And so investing in this community, understanding this community, empowering this community is not just a Latino issue, it should be an American issue. And we should all be interested in the empowering of Latinos to use their voices because as we’re seeing today, communities of color can save this democracy and are saving this democracy. And so it’s worth our time and attention and investment. 

Brittany Packnett Cunningham So one of the things I think we’re not talking about enough in the context of this conversation broadly is multicultural coalitions.

I believe they are so, so important, but if we’re being honest, they’re really complicated. I am a Black woman. I am deeply grateful for the leadership of Black women in Georgia and beyond and—not, but—I also believe in solidarity because I am a full believer that white supremacy would really hate for all of us to realize that we are stronger together, right? So what have you learned in this election season about the power of solidarity? Why does it really matter? 

America Ferrera Well, I mean, I can tell you that the Latina organizers I know have modeled their work after Black organizers—after Black women organizers—you know, we are so deeply inspired by the work, the model that has been set with the incredible organizing, not just of voters, but of the movement for Black lives and Black Lives Matter. And just historically in this country, Black organizers have always paved the path and led the way and shown us what’s possible in our communities. And so there’s a deep awe and respect and learning that, at least among organizers, is understood exists between our communities. And, you know, we were talking about Black and Latino as if they’re separate, completely erasing tons of Latinos who are Black, and Black people who are Latinos.

You know, I would love nothing more than for the conversation of Black and Brown unity to take center stage, particularly in this moment in our country’s history, because we are such powerful communities. And like you said, I don’t think anything scares white supremacy more than Black and Brown people coming together. And there’s precedent for Black and Brown unity. There have been movements built on what unifies us and how the same systems that oppress Black bodies are the systems being used and evolving Brown bodies and Latino bodies. And it’s not simple by any means. I think we all know that much at this point. It’s complicated. I mean, it’s complicated just within the Latino community because we aren’t necessarily always clear on what unifies us as a Latino community. Trying to unify people is complicated and it’s nuanced and it’s hard work, but it’s also so incredibly powerful. And I hope that I live to see that coalition built, and particularly among women—women of color across all ethnicities—finding ways to unify and to Voltron up our power because we’re unstoppable, because women of color are everything. They’re amazing. And, and I want to see more coalition building for sure. 

Brittany Packnett Cunningham I hear that. And I’m with you. You’ve already talked about how meaningful and powerful the Latina population is. I mean, it is a huge ginormous population, about one in five. Are you, you know, what’s your challenge for this incoming administration? 

America Ferrera I mean, I think we launched like a little over 90 days ago. [LAUGHING] So we’re like brand new babies. And I think that there’s a lot of foundation building that we’re doing as an organization right now to really be focused in our direction.

You know, She Se Puede is about a culture shift. It’s about a cultural revolution. It’s about giving Latinas a sense of their own identity, the power to define their own identities. We truly, truly believe that you can’t just show up and tell people that their VOTES matter, you have to tell them that their lives matter, that everything about their lives matter: that their dreams, that their hopes, that their aspirations, their health, their mental health, their family, their children, their educations, their joy, you know, this is what I’m saying like we were so deeply inspired by how Black women and the Black community have set, you know, this model for other communities of color, of celebrating yourselves and celebrating what’s beautiful and celebrating your joy in the midst of all the other realities. And, and it can’t just be, you know, politics in one bucket and everything else in the other. Our lives don’t exist in silos. We are all the things that we are. In every given moment. And so our hope is to speak to all the aspects of a Latinas’ life, including our Afro-Latina sisters, and have the conversations about all the aspects of our lives, where we have yet to find our empowerment and we are finding our empowerment and that just isn’t being reflected back to us in our culture.

Brittany Packnett Cunningham Yeah. So before I let you go, I’d be remiss if I did not talk to you about your artistic pursuits. First of all, I watched all of “Ugly Betty,” like as soon as it came out, but I am a super fan of “Gentefied.” I am so excited that it is coming back to Netflix for a 2nd season. Your show “Superstore,” which you starred in, is wrapping up. How do you hope to continue making change onscreen? 

America Ferrera I don’t even see them as separate anymore. You know, I don’t see storytelling and culture as even a different river than politics. Politics is storytelling. You know, we believe the stories we tell about ourselves, the stories that are most told about us. That’s what we believe. So it is so important that our culture, you know, really take responsibility and play the role hat it’s meant to play in empowering our community. And so projects like “Gentefied” and a number of other projects that I’m involved in—either as an executive producer or an actor or director—are such a focal point for me because it’s my deepest passion. My earliest passion was storytelling. And I felt on a cellular level what it did to me to feel seen and to feel like I had a reflection in the culture. And I think that it’s such important work, that we continue to push our culture to be more reflective of who we are. And you know that work is pivotal.

And I don’t think that it’s any less important than who’s representing us in the halls of power. I, you know, first of all, I think that culture IS the halls of power. Like those are the halls of power: media, and the stories we tell, they teach us how to believe about ourselves and they teach others what to believe about us and how to treat us. It’s nothing short of creating the context for our lives and of our health and our safety. So it’s just as important as everything else. And thank you for being a fan of “Gentefied.” You know, for me, it’s just so exhilarating to be able to use. The career and the access that I’ve been so lucky to have to bring through other incredible creative, Latinx voices. Marvin Lemus, Linda Yvette Chávez are these two incredible writers there and their dreams coming true made it possible for actors and camera departments and wardrobe departments and makeup departments to like for their dreams to come true as well for them to finally get to play in a world that reflected them. I’ll never, ever, ever, ever forget for so many reasons Ava DuVernay asked me to make a little appearance in a music video she did for Jay-Z—the family video that she did—and I had never, ever in my whole life been on a set where everyone from craft services to the hair and makeup department, to the camera department, to the AD department were Black. And I remember that being a lightning bolt of a moment for me of “wow, this is what’s possible.” Like they tell us that we don’t exist, that we are not out there: that there are no Black or Brown people who know how to operate cameras; or Black and Brown people who know how to do our makeup; or Black and Brown people who, you know, can set up a craft service table. You know like that, what we believe, because it’s just what we see over and over again. And then to get to step into a reality where it is actually possible, and that is actually happening. It’s world-changing. And for me, I’m so deeply inspired to see that evolve for the creative, Latino community on every level. 

Brittany Packnett Cunningham I love it. The cultural revolution is the revolution all day, every day. America, thank you. Thank you so much for your time on this important day and more importantly for everything you do. We can’t wait to see what what’s next. 

America Ferrera Thanks so much, Brittany. It’s so great to talk to you.

Brittany Packnett Cunningham Actor, activist, director, and producer America Ferrera. For more information on her organization, you can check out


Brittany Packnett Cunningham So we’ve got a long road ahead of us, but don’t you for a second let even an attempted coup stop you from believing we can strive for—and win—big change that does more than just fix what Trump broke. Cause it’s time to transcend the status quo. 

I always find days like today a lil funny when America, the country, not the person is looking at the results of an election and saying, “oh, Black people saved us again. People of color saved us.” Well, contrary to popular belief, we don’t live our lives solely in service of dominant culture. We saved ourselves and like America said, the person this time, we don’t wait for anybody to come in and save us. We don’t demand free labor from folks already doing work in their communities. We roll up our sleeves and get to work for us. And really that’s the funny thing about justice, isn’t it? When Black people win, we all win. When the most oppressed win, everybody benefits. We’ve got some incredible wins at our backs to help prove this to be true.

So let’s celebrate and then let’s get to work. The struggle continues and joy is good fuel.

That’s it for today, never for tomorrow. 

That’s it for today… but never for tomorrow!


UNDISTRACTED is a production of The Meteor and Pineapple Street Studios. 

Our Lead Producer is Rachel Matlow.

Our Associate Producer is Taylor Hosking. 

Thanks also to Treasure Brooks, Grace Chen, and Hannis Brown. 

Our Executive Producers at The Meteor are Cindi Leive and myself. 

And our Executive Producers at Pineapple are Jenna Weiss-Berman and Max Linsky. 

You can follow me at @MsPackyetti on all social media, and our team @TheMeteor.

Subscribe to UNDISTRACTED—and rate us!—on Spotify, Apple Podcasts or wherever you check out your favorite podcasts. 

Thanks for listening. Thanks for being. Thanks for doing.

I’m Brittany Packnett Cunningham. Let’s go get free.