Aymee Nuviola on Her Grammy Win and Afro-Latina Representation
Cuban singer Aymee Nuviola talks to People CHICA about Afro-Latina identity, her recent Grammy win, and her upcoming projects.
Aymee Nuviola kicked off her 2020 by winning a Grammy for Best Tropical Latin Album with A Journey Through Cuban Music. “It’s an honor,” the Cuban singer and actress tells People CHICA. She’s already set to release a new album, Viento y Tiempo, recorded with master Cuban pianist Gonzalo Rubalcaba, who studied music with Aymee when they were children growing up in Havana.
The Latin jazz album — recorded live from the Blue Tokyo club last year when the two artists traveled to Asia — will be complemented with a tour that will take Aymee and Gonzalo to various cities in the United States and Europe. Aymee also has a salsa project in the works, and is supporting her 18-year-old niece Paola Guanche in her solo debut with the music video “Pa’ Tras.” “I am so happy for her,” she says about her niece, who like Nuviola, exudes Afro-Latina pride. “She is a very talented artist. She can compose, plays the piano, sings beautifully and she has a long road ahead of her. We are always giving her advice and praying for her.”
She knows that when she — or a young Afro-Latina talent like her niece — succeeds, all Afro-Latinos win and gain representation. “I don’t take anything personally. I’m not saying I’ve been personally discriminated [against], but it’s something that happens in general terms and unfortunately it’s more common among Latinos. You turn on Hispanic media and you see anchors from Mexico or Colombia wanting to be blonder and whiter than they are. In a telenovela, it’s hard to be a leading actress if you don’t have blue eyes. When you see black characters they are the maids.”
Aymee — who had the starring role of Celia Cruz in the Telemundo series Celia, along with Afro–Puerto Rican actress Jeimy Osorio — laments that neither Jeimy nor herself have received more leading role offers since the hit series. “With the great acting performances in that series, I feel that if the leading ladies were not black, we would’ve had greater acting opportunities after these important roles.”
She celebrates her heritage in her daily life and on social media. “I carry it with a lot of pride,” she says of her Afro-Latino heritage. “I love my look, my Afro, my skin, my features, my big mouth, and my voluptuous curves that represent la raza. It’s something that reflects in how you walk, talk, carry yourself. I love my mix and my race, I love projecting my identity.”
Being in a biracial marriage — with manager and producer Paulo Simeon — is a blessing, she says, although some people stare at them in the street because of the difference in their skin tones. “Sometimes we notice some indiscreet people staring, but we don’t pay attention to it,” she says. “We live a very loving life. We are one flesh like the Bible says, we are always together, working and having fun. We wake up and go to bed at night talking about us, our dreams and projects.”
What advice does she have for rising Afro-Latino stars wanting to leave their mark in music, film, or television? “You have to cultivate your inner world first. I always talk to my niece about God, about strengthening her faith, about studying, gaining experience, staying away from all the negative,” she says. “You have to focus and not live with anxiety, letting things flow and happen in God’s perfect time. Always leave a good impression and positive message. You now have the option of being an independent artist or making yourself known on social media. Don’t get tired of working hard and pursuing your dreams.”