Univision anchor Ilia Calderón shares the dynamic of life at home with her multicultural family, raising her daughter Anna with a Korean-American dad and an Afro-Colombian mom.
Ilia Calderón is in awe of her 6-year-old daughter, Anna. “She loves to sing and dance in front of the mirror. She is imaginative and creative,” she says of Anna, who has an Afro-Colombian mom and a Korean-American dad. “She knows she is very fortunate to be exposed to our cultures, to be a multiracial girl living in a multiracial country,” the Noticiero Univision co-anchor says of her daughter. “We let her absorb everything she can when we visit her dad’s family or we travel to Colombia to visit mine,” she adds of Anna, who speaks English and Spanish and may learn Korean in the future.
At home, they cook both Latin and Asian dishes so Anna is just as happy eating dumplings as she is eating arepas. The goal is for her to enjoy the best of both cultures. Looking different than her classmates is something Anna — who inherited her mom’s dark skin and her dad’s eyes — has learned to embrace. “We talk to her about our races, and why her eyes are shaped differently than her friends,” the Emmy winner, 46, says.
She also shows her daughter how to stand up to bullies and to practice self-love and respect. “We teach her how to raise her voice for herself and for others who can’t,” adds the renowned journalist, the first Afro-Latina to anchor a news desk from Monday through Friday on a major network in the United States. “I want her to be a good person, to be an exceptional human being, to be a generous child. Those are the values we instill in her at home.”
Calderón herself is no stranger to bullying and racial hate. When interviewing a Ku Klux Klan leader for Univision’s Aquí y Ahora in 2017, he called her the N-word and said he would chase her out of his property in North Carolina, threatening to burn her alive. Although she admits she feared for her life, she stood her ground and finished the interview, which went viral. She knows that her leading role in the media comes with the social responsibility to set a good example and “open more doors for other Hispanic women, for other women of the black race who want to do this for a living, to show them that they can do it, that it’s worth it.”
The anchor’s biggest supporter is her husband, Jang, a physical therapist she met thanks to a common friend in Miami who has been her rock for almost nine years. “He is my balance. I like everything fast, and he is more patient,” she says of her man, who loves tostones and doesn’t mind having her as a constant translator when they travel to Bogotá to see her family.
“I want to know all the answers, and it’s hard for me to deal with uncertainty, and he calms me down. We complement one another in many ways,” she admits. As parents they tag team driving Anna to school and play dates, making dinner and doing house chores — Anna also helps, earning allowance money for helping to put groceries away.
There’s little doubt that Anna will be prepped to deal with challenges of the current political climate in America: Her mother has already experienced decades of questions like “What are you?” and answered with pride and patience.