Jessica Marie Garcia Talks Diary of a Future President and Owning Her Latinx Power
Mexican American actress Jessica Marie Garcia talks to People CHICA about her role in the new Disney+ series Diary of a Future President and how her characters are breaking stereotypes.
On the new Disney+ series Diary of a Future President, Jessica Marie Garcia plays Camila, a paralegal who works with Selenis Leyva’s character, Gabi. Gabi is a widowed lawyer who is raising her teen daughter Elena, the future president of the United States (played in adulthood by Gina Rodriguez), while trying to open up to love again after the death of her husband. Camila is one of the people trying to help Gabi get back in the dating game. “She is super fiery and so fun,” Garcia, 32, tells People CHICA of Camila, who is also struggling to share her same-sex love story with her traditional Mexican family. “She is hiding a huge part of who she is. Camila is gay and has a girlfriend that she can’t come out to her parents about because they are kind of old-school.”
Playing a character that belongs to the LGBTQ community was a new challenge for Garcia. “I’m stepping in on new ground for myself, but I do understand what it’s like to be different,” she says. “I’m doing it with such respect. Love is love and it’s not difficult for me to understand what it is to love another human.” In real life, Garcia has been married for 11 years. “He’s been such a support system,” she says of her husband. “When we met, neither one of us had anything. We were both practically unemployed and had all this ambition, so we’ve really grown together.”
Working with Selenis and Gina on this series has been a dream come true for Garcia. “The day I met Selenis, I feel that not only did I get a master class in acting, but I met my new soulmate,” she jokes. “We vibed from the beginning. And that first episode, Gina directed it, so I got to have this trifecta of female Latina power that worked so seamlessly. It was too much fun. I don’t think we can call it work.”
Garcia will also be reprising her larger-than-life role of Jasmine Flores on the new season of On My Block, coming to Netflix later this year. “You’re going to see more sides of Jasmine this season,” she says. “I’m so happy with her trajectory. This season is crazy — there is love, drama, there is everything!”
She is thrilled about the empowering message that Diary of a Future President has for young Latinas. “We’re here and we’re not going anywhere. It’s time to see us in this kind of light after seeing so much bad representation of us,” she says. “We are powerful, strong, beautiful, intelligent.”
Garcia, of Cuban and Mexican descent, owns her Latina heritage. “Every day I’m in Los Angeles, I feel closer to my Mexican side. It’s been such a beautiful journey,” she says. “For me the next step is being able to speak Spanish fluently and without feeling terrified that my accent is horrible. I want my kids to speak Spanish.”
How does she feel about the term Latinx? “Latino, Latina, Latinx … I’m so proud of our community that none of the conjugating of it bothers me or makes me feel any kind of way, but I also respect other people’s feelings on it,” she explains. “Some people are triggered by that X. For me, it’s about inclusion, so I love the X, but I also respect that people don’t. I think it’s important to bring everyone together as a community under one umbrella and to respect each other’s differences.”
Diary of a Future President premieres Friday, January 17 on the Disney+ streaming service.