- - Monday, January 23, 2017

A voracious supporter of Hillary Clinton during the election, actress America Ferrera co-chaired the Women’s March on Washington Saturday, where the 32-year-old star gave an impassioned speech about rejecting the agenda of newly installed President Trump.

“Our dignity, our character, our rights have all been under attack and a platform of hate and division assumed power yesterday,” Miss Ferrera said in a widely circulated video of her speech on YouTube [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wrQt0J4hWj4]. “But the president is not America. … His cabinet is not America. Congress is not America. We are America, and we are here to stay,” she said to a cheering crowd in the nation’s capital.

Miss Ferrara, a first-generation American born to Honduran immigrants who formerly starred on “Ugly Betty,” said that the march was aimed to capture “the moral core of this nation, against which our new president is waging a war.”

The star of “Superstore” on NBC has worked hard to balance her double life as entertainer and activist. In the future Miss Ferrara hopes that people will look upon Saturday’s marches as a place and time where so many felt connected and, in the weeks and months ahead, will continue their activism efforts.”

This is now a demonstration of community and coming together,” she told The Washington Times while on set at the Television Critics Press Tour. “There are so many people that feel vulnerable and unprotected at the moment. … There are so many across this country who are not so protected in their spaces,” she said.

As for “Superstore,” with its diverse cast, storylines and characters, Miss Ferrara doesn’t think the popular comedy series will be impacted by the new administration.”Certainly the writers are very informed people who pay attention and are influenced by the conversation that is going on,” she said. “From the very beginning, the show has been topical … having conversations about ethnicity, women’s health, guns and diversity.”

Now in its second season, “Superstore” centers around a quirky group of workers a fictional big box retail megastore called Cloud 9 who dealing with everyday life. Produced by “The Office“‘s Justin Spritzer, the workplace comedy stars Miss Ferrara as Amy, a cynical hard worker, and Ben Feldman (“Mad Men”) as the more eager new employee, Jonah.

Miss Ferrara, who cites Norman Lear as her TV hero, believes that one of the challenges broadcast television still faces is bringing “the most people to the table” as possible.”

We don’t want to make people feel not welcomed or attacked,” she said, adding that Mr. Lear, the legendary creator of “All in the Family,” “Maude,” “The Jeffersons and “Good Times,” “made space for more people at the table. Not just in television and entertainment, but in our news and our culture at large.”

“What this election exposed to all of us is that we need to work harder to have conversations that reach more people. Because it’s not working to silo ourselves and not listen to one another,” she said. Miss Ferrera, who also serves as a producer on “Superstore,” recently directed her first episode of the series.

“It’s not like I have to come in and learn this world,” she enthused. “I know this show intimately. I know and love this crew and cast. I feel insanely supported by everybody.”

An ongoing issue in the television industry is the lack of female directors, which is why Miss Ferrara decided to step up.”Even if the intention is there to hire more female directors in a season, often there are so few of them that are established and approved by the studios and the networks that everyone is scrambling for the same small handful. We really need to widen that pod,” she said.

Miss Ferrara is very excited about this new aspect of her career — and about encouraging other women in Hollywood to follow in her footsteps.

At the same time, she acknowledges that there is much work to be done, both in Hollywood and the culture at large. “We are continuing to fight to protect progress and what we so value about being American,” she said. “I think one of the foundational tasks we have is to create community and have conversations that we have ignored for too long.”

Despite her passionate views, she said NBC has never asked her to tone down her political comments.”I have never had a conversation with anyone about what I do outside of my role on ‘Superstore,’” she said.

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