In the fourth annual “An evening with” series, students will see the event’s first female headliner and hear a variety of new topics.
Associated Students Inc. and Beach Pride Events have booked Diane Guerrero, the Colombian-American actress, philanthropist and social rights activist for Feb. 6. Although she is most known for her roles in “Orange is the New Black” and “Jane the Virgin,” her advocacy for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and immigration rights have made her a particularly appealing guest this year for students.
“We wanted the speaker to reflect the diversity of our students and to make students feel welcome,” Program Assistant Jonathan Ibarra said. “Someone who [could] speak on many issues our students may be facing was important.”
The “Evening with Diane Guerrero” will take place at 7 p.m. on Feb. 6 in the University Student Union ballrooms. It is currently sold out, but ASI will be giving out tickets through social media throughout the week.
While previous years have featured guests such as Common, who inspired students to follow their dreams, and Stan Lee, who spoke to students about his journey through the Great Depression and World War II, Guerrero brings a new sense of purpose to the series: a call to action for immigration rights.
In her book, “In the Country We Love: My Family Divided,” Guerrero writes about her struggles growing up as a Colombian-American, fearing for her status and place in the country. She tells the story of coming home from school when she was 14 years old to find out her family had been arrested and later deported, and how that affected her life and career.
“I thought that being brown and broke, as well as hiding out from authorities for most of my childhood, somehow made me less valuable in the eyes of others and, at moments, in my own eyes,” Guerrero writes in her book.
This year’s event was organized by a group of student representatives in the Beach Pride Events Council who felt the issues Guerrero is able to shed light on are both timely and necessary for the campus to hear.
“The fact that she’s a woman of color, but then on top of that the fact that she’s made it from humble beginnings and then became the successful person she is today,” Associated Students Treasurer Jonathan Wanless said. “Then to the point where she’s at a now, with a platform and the motivation to speak on immigration reform, which is an important issue [on campus].”
Guerrero will speak to a crowd of 500 in the USU ballrooms about immigration reform and the struggles immigrants face every day, especially to avoid deportation. After her speech she will take questions from the audience.
“A lot of students have faced issues with their undocumented status and it sometimes can be shameful for them to talk about so they just keep it to themselves,” Wanless said. “So for [Guerrero] to have the privilege to speak out about it at such a high level, it can give students the strength and encouragement to do the same; like ‘if she did it, I can do it too.’”