"Representation Matters: Désirée Zamorano" by Alyssa Pieprzyca
When I was little, the only person on television I saw that resembled me was Dora the Explorer. She spoke Spanish and had brown skin like mine, which I loved. Then, a few years later, I looked back at the show and was so frustrated and envious of other kid shows with white characters that never spoke about where they were from or the language they used. Years after that, I got to the point where I began to watch R-rated movies and occasionally there was a Latinx character but more often than not, they were in a gang or had an accent. I wanted so badly to have a Latinx character simply be a Latinx character. I was a Latina who didn’t have an accent, wasn’t in a gang, wasn’t a maid, and wasn’t a sex worker.
I spoke about these issues with Désirée Zamorano, author of The Amado Women (2014) and she agreed, “representation matters.” We explored the way our demographic is presented in the media, or, rather, the lack of it: “For a long time in Hollywood, our demographic was represented in two ways, the terrified maid and the sex worker.” But instead of merely complaining about it, she channeled her frustration into her writing.
Zamorano’s list of accomplishments is long, but some of her works include Human Cargo (2011), Modern Cons (2013), and “Amarisa’s Cooking Pot” (2017). Like many children, Zamorano enjoyed reading books and making up her own stories. As she grew older, she says she “experienced life,” and she realized she actually had things to say. She says she has found great joy in incorporating issues of social justice into her stories. It’s almost like hitting two birds with one stone; readers get a good read, and it mirrors current political issues. Thats how I felt when we read Zamorano’s submitted piece, “Austin,” for MORIA’s second issue, due out on November 19th . To be able to curate a story that leaves your reader’s heart aching? It's a hard goal to achieve, and Désirée Zamorano has done it.
When I asked her how she gets her inspiration for her stories, she told me she’s simply “tapping into the universe. You have to find a vein and tap into it.” For her more socially and politically-centered pieces, she says she looks at what’s happening now and joins that conversation in her work. It's what we all should be doing—joining conversations, offering our thoughts, and taking action.
Looking into her critically-acclaimed novel, The Amado Women, Zamorano uses four Latina women as her main characters and explores the complexity of them, both in and out of their family. She portrays the intricacy of family and how people can feel incomplete without another person, but nonetheless face problems when together. Zamorano strives to show the truth of Mexican-American people and steers clear of the stereotypical Hollywood notions. Instead, she explores universal conflicts, like abusive relationships, family ties, and personal battles. Erik Alfaro, MORIA’s Events Coordinator, offers an analysis of some lines of The Amado Women:
"As she waited for her friend, Sylvia stared out of Becky's window. She could see a shimmering strip of yellow sea, forty miles away, glowing with the impossibility of hope." This quote reaches out to women who have faced the unfortunate experience of being abused by a husband. When Zamorano writes, "She could see a shimmering strip of yellow sea, forty miles away, glowing with the impossibility of hope," she talks about how many women who are abused by their husbands think about what the future will bring. Zamorano's use of "forty miles away" is a reference to the fact that many women compare their wishes for their future with a starker reality. These visions "[glow] with the impossibility of hope" but remain in the distance because these men refuse to acknowledge that their behaviors and attitudes are erroneous and inhumane and thus will never change into behaviors of respect. In this light, Zamorano's analogy serves to shout out to all the women who have fallen into a similar situation to Sylvia’s in The Amado Women, and, while Zamorano recognizes that many of these women feel hopeless, she aims to let them know that they are not forgotten.
Zamorano’s novel has been talked about in the Los Angeles Times, been deemed a “must read” by Remezcla, and was added to Bustle Magazine’s list of “11 Moving Beach Reads That’ll Have You Weeping Into Your Piña Colada.” An author that creates a well-woven story, incorporates modern day issues, and can make me cry? Sign me up.
Alyssa Pieprzyca is studying Communication and Professional Writing at Woodbury University. She was raised by her mother in Los Angeles and is the oldest of three. She is your textbook Capricorn, who you can probably find eavesdropping and writing in your local coffee shop.