I had an epiphany last Sunday. If you hadn’t read the title I had a realization about how little of who I am is represented. Everyone talks about representation for Asians, Latinos and Blacks. I never really knew I needed it too. I didn’t think my culture mattered. That was until I watched a random (and I mean random) romantic comedy on Sunday with my mom.
Growing up I would watch movies and shows where I would see a Latina and I would relate to a certain extent. I would think, “oh yeah I’ve done that, been through that, my family’s the same way.” I would think that’s almost me. But not me. I would watch movies and shows where the main character was a first-generation woman and I would think “I’ve done that, been through that, my family is the same way.” That’s almost me. But not me. So on Sunday things sort of changed.
It was just a normal Sunday. I was busy cooking my lunch for the week and my mom had finished cleaning the house. Our favorite thing to do is watch movies. So naturally I started flipping through Netflix, gave up halfway and turned to Amazon Prime. Although I don’t usually find movies on and Amazon I was like why not!
Here’s how it happened:
Entering Isabel’s mind in 3…2…1…
Alright. I have to find a movie. It has to be a new movie that mom hasn’t seen because she hates re-watching movies. This is going to be hard.
This looks cheesy…boring…scary…seen it…seen it…seen that. “A Date with Miss Fortune.” That sounds cute I guess. Looks a little eh. Let’s see what it’s about.
When a struggling writer meets a superstitious Portuguese beauty…wait what?
When a struggling writer meets a superstitious Portuguese beauty…what?
Superstitious Portuguese Beauty
Me: “This movie is about a guy and a Portuguese lady falling in love”
My mom immediately said, “put it on!”
It opens up to a diner and a woman is sitting by herself listening to music. A man is also there and notices his ex is in the diner with a man. The ex notices him and he rushes over to the woman sitting alone begging her to pretend to be his girlfriend for a few minutes. At first she denies helping him but eventually gives in and as for what happens next you’ll have to watch it.
My favorite part from the beginning is when he asks her to say something in Portuguese. He is amazed at the language. The amount of times I’ve been asked the same thing with the same reaction made me giggle and roll my eyes. My mom and I laughed so hard throughout the movie. This man falls in love with a Portuguese woman and learns how different they are culturally and personally, that also means getting along with her big family. Let’s just say the big family involves being very loud, drinking wine, watching soccer, being superstitious/a little judgemental and a lot of food.
It’s an hilarious movie that showcased the Portuguese culture. Obviously for comedic reasons certain things were exaggerated but my mom and I took no offense. It was lighthearted. And honestly I was tearing up in the end. Never in my life had ever seen a part of me on the big screen. It felt weird hearing Portuguese and English at the same time. I felt happy to see a reflection of my family and who I am, and honestly sad. I always knew I was missing something when I watched TV, listen to music or read a book. I was missing my culture, my people, my story. And I never thought it would mean so much to me. For once I saw MY culture in an English movie. It was my language, my food, my drinks, my songs being represented by actual Portuguese people. The last time I saw someone Portuguese person in a movie was ‘Love Actually’ and she naturally played a maid (rolls eyes at the stereotype).
I figured where my family came from wasn’t as important as others. I struggled with where my Portuguese heritage fits in. Is it white? Is it Hispanic? I’ve heard so many arguments over that. It’s’ all a bit gray. And I think I’m learning to not care where I stand in society. I never really knew how badly I needed to see a movie like this. If you didn’t know I live in Miami and in Miami there’s a lot of Hispanics, Caribbean’s, whites and almost every other culture. The only Portuguese people I know here are the ones that I grew up with. Put it this way in middle school there was about three of us. There isn’t a lot of us here and because of that I grew up deprived. But I also grew up incredibly proud due to that. Everywhere I go there’s Spanish and English music, shows, movies and supermarkets. People think I’M Hispanic. I tell them I’m Portuguese and four things happen:
- “Wow can you say something?”
- “Isn’t it like Spanish?
- “So you’re Brazilian?”
- “Where is Portugal?”
I’ve gotten each of these multiple times throughout my life. Does it annoy me? Yes, it always has. It’s given me this dream that one day maybe my culture will be known and maybe people will realize that Brazilians aren’t the only one who speak the language. I want to see more Portuguese actors in film, see more resturants and hear the music on the radio. For people to realize the beauty that is Portugal because there is so much richness and history.
I’m extremely proud to be Portuguese American. And because I am both American and Portuguese as an aspiring journalists I vow to bridge that gap and show the radiance that is my people.
“A vida e o amor que criamos são a vida e o amor que vivemos” -Anônimo