Being a Latina in the entertainment industry takes work. You must deal with the lack of opportunities, the pressure of carving a place for yourself, and even rumored feuds. But when you know the impact you can have with your platform, the burden seems to lift — at least a little bit. That’s what Latina actress Francia Raisa has learned in her years working in TV, a path she wasn’t really expecting.

“The thing is, I never did any of this on purpose,” she told FIERCE in an exclusive interview. “[It just] kind of fell on my lap.”

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The 35-year-old actress began taking jobs in her junior year of high school after falling in love with her abuela’s telenovelas. From modeling for print ads to music videos, her destiny unfolded before her eyes.

And when her friends like Selena Gomez needed her the most, she was always there. 

The rest, as they say, is HER-story.

For Francia Raisa, it all started at home

Born in Los Angeles, California, Francia Raisa saw firsthand the impact fame can have on your life. Born to a Mexican mother and a Honduran-born radio personality, Francia’s life was deeply impacted by her father’s profession and, eventually, dreams.

“My dad works in radio, and he was huge when I was growing up,” she told FIERCE. “So, the industry has always been a part of my life.”

However, Raisa knew early on she wanted to do something other than radio. Instead, she fell in love with the telenovelas she used to watch with her abuela. “I was like, ‘I’m going to do that one day,'” the actress said. And she did, but it was in a different format, and she has no complaints.

“[In the end] all the projects I’ve done are a soap opera within itself,” Raisa said.

With her parents’ support, she decided not to go to college and pursue a full-time career in TV.

Since 2006, Raisa has been part of the cast in movies like “Bring It On” (2006) and “Chastity Bites” (2013). However, her most successful roles have been in television. She has been part of shows like “The Secret Life of the American Teenager,” “Grow-ish” and “How I Met Your Father.”

However, it wasn’t always easy

It’s no secret that diversity in Hollywood is a far-fetched dream. And Francia Raisa has experienced it firsthand. She told FIERCE how she sometimes had to try for months to get some of the roles that changed her career. Today, she’s convinced that “what’s meant for you will actually be for you.”

But that might not be true for other Latinos following in her footsteps, and Raisa knows it. “I’m just trying to see how I can open more doors for other Latinos,” she admitted.

The actress is now focused on portraying roles that deliver a message to young people, open spaces, and give back to the community. 

“You know, it was never for the fame,” she admitted. “I actually was trying to run away from that because my dad loved fame so much. So I was trying to do the opposite.”

Now, Francia Raisa is just being herself and making an impact

The Latina actress had to fight depression and rejection while trying to be someone she was not. “I just took off the mask that people were telling me to wear,” she admits, and her life has since changed. Her beginnings in movies like “Bring it On!” (2006) taught her a lot about the business, and she confesses being “more mindful” of her life experiences.

Today, she has partnered with Modelo Spiked Aguas Frescas to support street vendors. “Once I heard [about the partnership], I was like, ‘Yes. Absolutely,” she said. “It’s not a secret that I love to give back — you know, even a piece of my own body.”

Image used with permission from Francia Raisa.

Raisa was referencing the time she donated a kidney to her best friend, Selena Gomez, who was diagnosed with Lupus in 2015. However, today, Raisa wants to give back to her community in different ways.

Following a successful Las Vegas test launch, where Modelo Spiked Aguas Frescas was the #1 new Flavored Malt Beverage multipack and single serve, Modelo is now celebrating its expansion to strong markets across the country. This time, the brand is honoring the street vendor community that made traditional aguas frescas a beloved cultural staple. 

Image used with permission from Francia Raisa.

When Raisa heard about the street vendors, whom she “grew up chasing down the street and getting so excited about,” she didn’t hesitate.

“The pandemic really taught us a lot about the importance of small businesses,” Raisa said about her new partnership. “I just hope it’s a prideful thing for the community. I hope they realize our culture is being highlighted and celebrated more and more each day.”

Raisa recognized Latino culture seeping into and taking over all industries, “opening people’s minds to our culture.”

“I think it’s so beautiful, and we all learned how important community is,” she added. “We all learned how important it is to give back. Any act of kindness is really beautiful.”

Image used with permission from Francia Raisa.

Just this week, Francia Raisa and Modelo surprised Salvador Gutierrez, the owner of Oxnard, CA-based Las Aguas 805, with a new, custom-built street cart and a $5,000 cash gift to help him keep bringing those fantastic flavors to his community for years to come.

“The street vendor surprise was so sweet,” Raisa said, adding she loved the feeling of helping people in the community.

Image used with permission from Francia Raisa.

What the future has in store for Francia Raisa

After her first experience with a community-focused collaboration, Francia Raisa is expanding her La Victoria salsa business and looking for opportunities beyond the entertainment business.

“I’ve done three successful TV shows, and I’m so happy and grateful,” she said. “It’s unheard of for a Latina. But my goal was to do one, and now I’ve done three. So, I’m tapping into other talents.”

And for Latinas who aspire to enter the entertainment industry or start their entrepreneurial ventures, Francia Raisa has a word of advice: “You can’t trust anyone,” she said. “Point blank. Don’t trust anyone out there.”

She also recommended that you “make sure your family is a part of whatever decisions” and that they have your back “going into this.”

“The entertainment business is as passionate as you are about it,” she concluded. “Everything is business, so you better learn about business.”