"I keep hearing the term, 'Oh, I know this isn't normal, this isn't normal.' Well, what is normal? Is there a normal? We're all different. So we're all rule breakers because we don't go off what is 'normal.'"

Francia Raísa, known for her roles on Secret Life of the American Teenager, Bring It On: All Or Nothing and the popular spin-off grown-ish on Freeform, shared with Bustle how trying to conform to society’s understanding of "normal" is holding a lot of us back from reaching our full potential. The now 30-year-old is no longer interested in pleasing others and is committed to making choices that enhance her life and address her personal needs. 

PHOTO: Bustle

"… things just aren’t as big of a deal to me as they were before in my 20s, where I thought the world would end if I didn’t do this, or (if) I didn’t go to this party and hung out with so-and-so. I just don’t care anymore. When I first started in the industry, I wouldn’t go out of town, because I was too afraid to miss anything — an event, an audition, anything. And now, I’m 30, I’m like, 'I have not traveled. What is wrong with you, Francia?' So my bucket list, honestly, is to appreciate and enjoy life more. To travel a lot more."

Raísa’s new age has also shaped her perspective in the field. As a proud Latina, she remembers a time when people would tell her to conform to a more Americanized pronunciation of her name and give in to the roles crafted for Latinx actors/actresses. 

"There were things that people told me to do that, for a second, I was like, I'm not comfortable, but I went off what they told me. Because I was just so desperate to make it, I was willing to do anything," Raísa admitted to Bustle. "Then at one point, I said no, I don't want to do that. I don't want to wear tight, short dresses. I don't want to pronounce my name this way, because it is pronounced with an accent. Because I am Latina, and I'm very proud of it. And I don't want to make myself seem more white just because that's what's more acceptable in society."

Now, when taking on roles, she considers whether or not it is truly for her and what she can bring to that role; for Raísa, it is no longer about "making it." She even experienced some pushback when auditioning for grown-ish

"At the time (of the grown-ish audition), I was about to be 29. And I was told, even though you look the age, you can't play 18 anymore, because people know your age. I went against what people told me I couldn't do anymore. I wanted to be part of it so bad, I went for it anyway."

And going for it allowed her the opportunity to work for a show she truly enjoys and open up new opportunities for her to experience. Raísa will be starring as the co-star to Tyra Banks for the highly anticipated Life-Size 2.


"There aren’t a lot of leading roles for Latinas, and I just nabbed another one with Life-Size. And I’m not playing this poor, Hispanic girl with a broken family, who is trying to make it. No, I’m this CEO of a company. I have a lot of pain in my life, just like any other person, but I’m a boss and I’m just finding my way," Raísa began. "I think the more that we start booking these lead roles and showcasing that I’m not just playing a Latina — I’m playing a woman, I’m playing a girl turning into a woman — it kind of opens the door for a lot of other people."

One thing Raísa is big on is reaching back and passing on her knowledge to others in the industry to help them avoid making the mistakes she made throughout her time in the industry. 

"I'm definitely speaking up a lot more, for sure… What I'm doing, especially with a lot of newer actors who get opportunities on grown-ish — like Jordan (Buhat), who plays Vivek — I pulled him aside one day. I was like, 'Hey, I made a lot of mistakes and I didn't have the right guidance. You should be doing this, you should be doing that, don't listen to this, don't listen to that. I'm probably stepping on toes, but I don't want you to experience what I experienced'… You have to help your peers, you really do. Because I just don't want anyone to go through some of the downfalls that I went through. They're very painful and they're very hard to come up from."

When it comes to breaking barriers and believing in the power of "I can," Raísa’s mom has been her ultimate source of motivation. Raísa shared her mother was unable to pursue her dreams because her father was old-school and told her as a woman, there were things she was not allowed to do such as going to school. Her mother still snuck out to get an education, but she eventually married a man who told her she couldn’t work and her sole responsibility was staying home and raising Raísa and her sister. 

"She constantly had people, especially men, tell her, 'No you can’t, you're a woman.' She's the one that’s like, 'Yeah, you can, don't let anyone tell you otherwise.'"

PHOTO: People

Overall, Raísa acknowledged that "breaking rules" and letting go of the falsehood of normality have gotten her to a point where she is the happiest she has ever been. 

"A lot of people start a sentence that way and talk about a quirk that they have. I really want to encourage people to stop giving themselves disclaimers about who they are and what they want. What you want and what you need is what makes you, you. It’s what makes you an individual, and it’s what makes you interesting. And there is no 'normal.' I don’t even know what that means. Whatever people say is 'normal,' is whatever society made up in their mind. So as far as rule breaking, stop making disclaimers for yourself and just be you."

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