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Alma at the Willis Tower in Chicago

Alma, UIC B.A. in Theatre-Performing Arts, 2008

My mother is Puerto Rican, my father is Mexican, I grew up as a baby in Puerto Rico up until the age of 4. After 4 years old, I basically grew up and completed all my levels of education in Chicago. My Grandma says my first language was Spanish, which is funny to me because I think in English.

There’s a saying that the language you think in is your first language, not true. My Spanish will never sound Puerto Rican or Mexican enough to those who are native to Puerto Rico or Mexico, but my English definitely sounds Latino anywhere I go in the US. To someone from Chicago, I sound very Chicago. When I moved to Tennessee two years ago, the same constant question was asked every night “Where are you from?” When I’d reply Chicago, they’d ask “No, no, where are you REALLY from.” Chicago wasn’t enough of a reply to the majority who asked, they wanted me to say Puerto Rico, New York, Mexico!

As a Theater graduate, I can totally calm my natural accent to make myself be more easily understand by the general public, ONLY if I do the vocal warm-up and vocal exercises for at least an hour or more. However, when I’m not on stage, I love my accent, wherever my accent comes from, it may just be a melting pot of an accent as far as I’m concerned! I don’t have to prove where my accent is from, it just is. I love hearing accents from other places as well!

My accent to me represents something sacred, it is an evolution of languages spoken in my family. I hope my child has an accent! It tells a story. When I have children, I can’t wait to teach them both English and Spanish as my mom did to me. I refuse to stop speaking Spanish and I make a huge effort to visit my Mom’s small town in Puerto Rico at least 2-3 times a year. My accent most comes out around my family, we have this thing we do where we can all sit on a porch or living room, we brew coffee and laugh for hours. I can train my voice all I want for a show, but I will never let go of my accent or roots. Here’s the kicker- I was born in Pontiac, Michigan.