On February 27, “Love & Hip Hop: Miami” star Amara La Negra visited N.C. Central University to discuss her experiences being an Afro-Latina artist as part of this year’s Rock the Lyceum lineup.
La Negra discussed her experience growing up as a dark-skinned Dominican woman in the entertainment industry to the 150 students that attended the event in B.N. Duke Auditorium. As a child, the songstress danced on “Sábado Gigante,” a Spanish-language television program that ran for over 50 years. The show, which ended in 2015, rarely featured black dancers.
“They never knew where to place me. They’d either put me in the middle or all the way to the back so the choreography didn’t look bad,” La Negra said. “They never knew how to place me because me being there would move the attention from the choreography because I was the only black one.”
She also discussed how the entertainment industry inspired her to become an activist for Afro-Latinos due to a lack of representation.
“You never, ever, ever see people like myself on TV,” La Negra explained. “You judge me based off my looks. I didn’t choose to look this way, [nor] would I ever change it.”
She went on to explain the difference between American and Latin media.
“When you watch American T.V.—you guys [black people] have been given that opportunity. There’s a lot of black talented actors, there’s a lot of black talented singers and you see them, but you don’t see them in our [Afro-Latino] community,” she said. “That’s why I fight so hard to see a difference.”
This led La Negra to discuss a scene on “Love and Hip Hop” scene that went viral for all the wrong reasons. Amara’s co-star Young Hollywood discriminated against her for not fitting the look he wanted, which he described as being “a little more Beyoncé, a little less Macy Gray.”
“I wanted guidance on how to cross over into the American market—the moment I walked in, the first thing he starts to do is criticize my looks.”
Amara said Young Hollywood went beyond what viewers saw at that point and said her hair was “nappy,” asking if she ever brushes it, and why she was acting “all black and proud.”
“It was just that moment that gave me the opportunity to show the world [that] this is what I’m talking about,” she said. “It’s because of people like him that there [aren’t] more people like me. It’s because of people with that mentality that my people are repressed and aren’t vocal about the situations that are happening in our community.”
The next Rock the Lyceum speaker is award-winning hip-hop artist, actor and producer Clifford “T.I” Harris Jr. in McDougald-McLendon Arena on Saturday, Mar. 30. Doors open at 4 p.m.