For Rosie Pérez, the Puerto Rican Pride Parade held annually in New York has a very special meaning: Not only is it a time to proclaim how thrilled she is to be Puerto Rican, but it also was the event that inspired her to venture into becoming a documentary filmmaker with Yo Soy Boricua Pa’ que Tú Lo Sepas, which premiered last year on the IFC television channel and will come out on DVD on June 5th. The U.S.-born artist spoke to peopleeneespanol.com about how proud she is of her roots and about her upcoming acting projects.
How did the idea to do this documentary come up?
I was watching the Puerto Rican parade on TV and a friend of mine asked me why we are so loud. I answered that we were proud of being Puerto Rican and he said: Why should you be? Right then and there I called my agent and told him I wanted to do a documentary about it.
What exactly did you want to accomplish with this?
I was tired of explaining my nationality, what Puerto Ricans are like. People often have a stereotype of us. It broke my heart to see that many kids didn’t know the history of our country. I wanted to show the political and cultural history of the island, that our people are very determined, have a great sense of humor and that we have contributed greatly to society. I wanted to show this to the whole world so we’d get the respect we deserve, so kids would feel proud of their origins.
And how was the public’s reaction?
The way people have received it has surpassed my expectations. Everywhere I go, somebody stops me to thank me for the documentary, people of all races and colors (…) The other day, a Puerto Rican woman born and raised in the U.S. came up to me crying and told me that until she watched the documentary, she had denied her background and would rather be thought of as Caucasian. She thanked me for showing her the history and culture of her people.
And among your colleagues?
The respect I have gotten in Hollywood for this work has been greater than the one I received after being nominated for an Oscar.
Talking about Hollywood, what’s coming up for you, acting-wise?
I recently finished filming a comedy, The Pineapple Express, (by director David Gordon) in which I play a sergeant. They also offered me a role in a Broadway play, The Ritz, based on a play starring Rita Moreno. I’m very happy with this last project because it looks like it’s going to be very big.