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Diane Guerrero: Most Likely To Be Superlative

Diane Guerrero appears on Ask Me Another at the Bell House in Brooklyn, New York.
Mike Katzif
Diane Guerrero appears on Ask Me Another at the Bell House in Brooklyn, New York.

Actor Diane Guerrero already had a lot on her plate in 2014, with roles in Orange is the New Black and Jane the Virgin. That's when Guerrero wrote an op-ed that appeared in The Los Angeles Times, telling a story she hadn't told publicly before.

She wrote, "My real story is this: I am the citizen daughter of immigrant parents who were deported when I was 14. My older brother was also deported."

Born in the U.S. to Colombian parents, Guerrero said she grew up with the fear of being separated from her family. She told Ask Me Another host Ophira Eisenberg, "I was always sort of an outsider looking in, especially because I was the only one in the family who was documented, who was a citizen."

Guerrero said she wasn't hearing herself represented in the immigration conversation. "The people I was hearing on the news, on different talk shows... when they talked about immigration, didn't seem personal to me," Guerrero said. "I figured, how are these people representing my experience and the experience of millions? I know what this feels like, I know what family separation is."

After the piece was published, Guerrero quickly realized she had taken a second full-time job as an immigration activist. "It was like cat's out of the bag, and now I have to do all this work," she said, laughing. "I'm like over here, struggling in Hollywood. Nobody wants to give me a job unless it's some drug dealer's girlfriend, and here I am putting myself in this position."

Guerrero wrote a memoir about her experience, called In the Country We Love: My Family Divided.It's been adapted for young adult readers and released under the title, My Family Divided: One Girl's Journey of Loss, Hope and Home.

Guerrero dropped out of college to pursue acting, but recently returned to her alma mater, Regis College, to receive an honorary doctorate. She summarized her professors' reactions: "'This is fine, but you can finish. You can finish, you just have a few credits left.'"

Guerrero is in talks to adapt her story into a TV show or film — and says she wants to make it a children's book. Ask Me Another host Ophira Eisenberg joked, maybe a children's cartoon?

"Who knows?" Guerrero said, coming up with a possible title: "Dora the Explorer Dos. 'Don't deport my family, b******.' It'll be that. She'll be going, 'Leave families alone. Gracias.'"

In high school, Guerrero was voted "Most Likely to Host a TV Talk Show" and "Best Smile." Ophira Eisenberg challenged her to a quiz about celebrity superlatives.


On why she pursued acting, after studying journalism and political science:

"I wasn't that very good at school."

On her drive to achieve:

"I always had it very clear in my mind that whatever happened, that I was going to continue going, and I was going to be strong and I was going to find a way to succeed."

On the secret to the famously congenial cast of "Orange is the New Black:"

"Just be around women. Just have everyone be a woman. From experience, it's a really great environment."

Heard on Diane Guerrero: Most Likely To Be Superlative.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Corrected: May 18, 2018 at 12:00 AM EDT
In the audio of this segment, we incorrectly said Guerrero's book's subtitle is "Home, Loss and Hope." The correct subtitle is "Loss, Hope and Home."