America Ferrera is Redefining Beauty as the New Face of CoverGirl

The Honduran American actress and mom talks to us about slowing down, reggaeton, and her new role as ambassador for the iconic beauty brand.

America Ferrera
Photo: Illustration by Francesca Spatola; CoverGirl (1)

Representation is everything to America Ferrera. That's why being named a CoverGirl ambassador last November was an honor she didn't take lightly: "I grew up not seeing people who looked like me reflected in the mainstream conversation about beauty," she says. "And when there were Latinas, there was a very specific kind of Latina, right? Like just a bombshell of a woman and that also wasn't me. And so, it's a little bit of a shock to realize that the narrative is shifting to include those of us who have never been valued for our unique beauty."

As the new face of CoverGirl's Fresh Skincare collection, the Honduran American actress, who talked about how "presence creates possibility" in her 2019 TED Talk, is hoping to give the next generation a sense of belonging with the beauty campaign, which debuts today. "A lot of us grow up feeling like outsiders and spend so much of our lives just getting to a place where we feel like we belong in the rooms we worked hard to get into," she says. "CoverGirl is such a fresh all-American brand. That someone like me can be the face of what it means to be an American is powerful."

Ferrera is acutely aware of the things she wants to put out into the world. The last two years have given her the space to reevaluate what's important to her. "Slowing down and getting off the hamster wheel of our culture that is just 'do, do, make, make, achieve, achieve, achieve, go, go, go,' made me realize that's not the speed that my body wants to move at," she says. "It's not the speed my heart or my soul or my creativity, for that matter, want to move at."

Slowing down has meant lots of walks in nature with her family and nightly dance parties at home with her kids, Sebastian, 3, and Lucia, 8 months. "My son really sets the tone because he has the strongest feelings about music. J Balvin's 'Loco Contigo' was on repeat for years in our house," she says. "Then he'll throw it all the way back to [Daddy Yankee's] 'Gasolina,' which is a deeply inappropriate song for a 3-year-old. But he has no idea what the lyrics are, thank God. He'd just dance to the beat."

While the little boy may not be able to grasp reggaeton lyrics just yet, he is getting an education on how to be an engaged citizen thanks to his activist mom. "He picks up garbage to keep our block clean and we'll talk about how that's how we take care of spaces that belong to everybody," she says. They've also discussed how wearing masks is not only for their safety but for other people's safety too. "With this generation, it's almost unavoidable having to talk about their lives and how that impacts everyone else's life, too. So, we're getting there," she says.

Her own ability to serve as a role model is something that continues to propel Ferrera forward. "I recently started directing. I had been feeling a pull towards it but, candidly, being really scared of it, mainly because I didn't see a lot of people like me in that position throughout my career," she says. Then she realized that she had been acting for 20 years, ever since starring in the iconic movie Real Women Have Curves in 2002. "I've spent more than 10,000 hours doing the thing, and I didn't know who I was waiting for to give me permission. If I can find the courage to do it, it will help inspire others to find their courage, too. And I think that is, ultimately, what gave me the push I needed to say, 'Yes, I'm ready.'"

Ferrera, who is set to make her directorial film debut this year with I Am Not Your Mexican Daughter, an adaption of the novel by Erika L. Sánchez, sees the director's chair as something bigger than herself. Just like with her CoverGirl role, she is always thinking about how her actions impact the community at large: "It's my opportunity to create access and representation for other people," says Ferrera, whose beauty, we can all agree, is both inside and out.

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