In her new book My Time to Speak, the Afro-Colombian news anchor talks about confronting discrimination and making a positive difference for future generations.

Por Lena Hansen
Junio 29, 2020

In her new memoir My Time to Speak: Reclaiming Ancestry and Confronting Race, Univision anchor Ilia Calderón opens up about facing racism throughout her life and breaking barriers for other women of color. The renowned Afro-Colombian journalist, 48, talked to People en Español about the inspiring life experiences she shares in her book, like how she was impacted by the death of her grandfather and by her travels to South Africa. "When my daughter came home and told me that some girls had called her 'black face,' it was very painful for me," she says about five-year-old Anna. "There are many people who still refuse to see that there is discrimination in our countries and here in the United States."

Ilia Calderon
Credit: Jesús Cordero

Calderón made history in 2017 when she replaced María Elena Salinas on Noticiero Univision with Jorge Ramos, becoming the first Afro-Latina to be co-anchor at a Hispanic U.S. network. “It’s a great responsibility knowing that I’m opening doors for other generations, not only for journalists, but for other girls and women who want to succeed at what they do,” she told People CHICA. “My commitment is not only to the Afro-Hispanic community, but to the Hispanic community in general.”

Calderón — who is also one of People en Español's Most Powerful Women of 2020 — told the magazine: "I am privileged because of the color of my skin, because I was able to get to this point of my career and occupy such an important position. Just the fact that I'm here empowers those little girls that never saw themselves in a position like that growing up, the mere fact that I appear on the screen shows them that they can achieve that and they can fight for any dream they have. They see themselves represented."

She says she never saw that positive representation of Black people in Spanish-language media growing up. "When I was a little girl I watched American series like The Cosby Show or Different Strokes and I saw black families who had an educated mom and dad, a beautiful house, a nice car parked outside, where their kids went to college and I thought, 'Why don't we see that in Colombia?" she says. "Why are the Black people we see here on screen always slaves or domestic workers? It was difficult to understand that, that there was nobody who represented that kind of [successful] life for people like me. The fact that I'm here today represents for other people what I would've wished to see on television screens when I was a little girl." She knows her coveted spot as a Univision anchor comes with the responsibility to keep telling stories that educate and inspire viewers, and make a positive difference in the world.

With reporting by Mayra Mangal. To read the complete interview, look for the new issue of People en Español, now on newsstands.