in conversation with America Ferrera
My True Story as an Undocumented Immigrant Who Became a Wall Street Executive
Ann and Jerry Moss Theatre
New Roads School
Herb Alpert Educational Village
3131 Olympic Boulevard
Santa Monica, CA 90404
This event is part of our Newer Voices Series.
General Admission tickets are complimentary, but we encourage you to support these newer authors and purchase their books.
Julissa Arce is a writer, speaker, and social-justice advocate. She is the cofounder and chairman of the Ascend Educational Fund, a college scholarship and mentorship program that assists immigrant students, regardless of their immigration status, ethnicity, or national origin. Julissa is also a board member for the National Immigration Law Center and for College Spring. Prior to becoming an advocate, she built a successful career on Wall Street, working at Goldman Sachs and Merrill Lynch. Visit her website.
There are so many moments in Julissa’s journey that numbed my body and transported me fully into her harrowing experience. Her story broke my heart and then made it jump for joy.
―America Ferrera, actor, producer
What does an undocumented immigrant look like? What kind of family must she come from? How could she get into this country? What is the true price she must pay to remain in the United States?
Julissa Arce knows first hand that the most common, preconceived answers to those questions are sometimes far too simple-and often just plain wrong.
On the surface, Arce’s story reads like a how-to manual for achieving the American dream: growing up in an apartment on the outskirts of San Antonio, she worked tirelessly, achieved academic excellence, and landed a coveted job on Wall Street, complete with a six-figure salary. The level of professional and financial success that she achieved was the very definition of the American dream. But in this brave new memoir, Arce digs deep to reveal the physical, financial, and emotional costs of the stunning secret that she, like many other high-achieving, successful individuals in the United States, had been forced to keep not only from her bosses, but even from her closest friends.
From the time she was brought to this country by her hardworking parents as a child, Arce-the scholarship winner, the honors college graduate, the young woman who climbed the ladder to become a vice president at Goldman Sachs-had secretly lived as an undocumented immigrant. In this surprising, at times heart-wrenching, but always inspirational personal story of struggle, grief, and ultimate redemption, Arce takes readers deep into the little-understood world of a generation of undocumented immigrants in the United States today–people who live next door, sit in your classrooms, work in the same office, and may very well be your boss. By opening up about the story of her successes, her heartbreaks, and her long-fought journey to emerge from the shadows and become an American citizen, Arce shows us the true cost of achieving the American dream-from the perspective of a woman who had to scale unseen and unimaginable walls to get there.
America Ferrera is an award-winning actress and producer who is perhaps best known for her breakthrough role as “Betty Suarez” on ABC’s hit comedy, Ugly Betty, for which she was recognized with a Golden Globe®, Emmy® and Screen Actors Guild Award®, as well as ALMA and Imagen Awards.
Ferrera currently produces and stars in the new NBC workplace comedy, Superstore, in it’s second season.
Upcoming, she will Executive Produce Refinery 29’s Behind the Headlines, a multimedia experience comprising video, text and images dedicated to humanizing the conversations around the issues that matter to women and Only Girl, which is a docu-series investigating what it means to be a female in a male-dominated field, ranging from baseball players to airplane pilots.
Ferrera can most recently be seen on Ricky Gervais’ satirical film, Special Correspondents, on Netflix, opposite Ricky Gervais, Vera Farmiga, and Eric Bana. Her recent film credits also include Ryan Piers Williams’ drama X/Y, which she produced and starred in opposite Amber Tamblyn. The film premiered at the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival.
In 2014, Ferrera starred in Diego Luna’s biopic, Cesar Chavez, opposite Michael Peña and alongside John Malkovich and Rosario Dawson. Ferrera received an ALMA Award for her portrayal of Cesar Chavez’s wife, “Helen Chavez.” The film premiered at the 2014 Berlin International Film Festival and SXSW Film Festival.
Ferrera continues to lend her vocal talents to the DreamWorks’ Oscar® nominated franchise films How to Train Your Dragon.
Other film credits include The Dry Land opposite Melissa Leo and Jason Ritter; End of Watch, the crime thriller starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Anna Kendrick, and Michael Peña; the drama-comedy It’s a Disaster alongside Julia Stiles and David Cross; Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (parts 1 and 2); the critically acclaimed biographical drama film Lords of Dogtown directed by Catherine Hardwicke, and the 2005 Sundance Film Festival entry How the Garcia Girls Spent Their Summer, among many others.
On stage, the actress starred in Terrence McNally’s off-Broadway production, Lips Together, Teeth Apart in the fall of 2014. In 2013, she appeared as “Crystal” in Laura Marks’ off-Broadway play Bethany. In November 2011, Ferrera starred as “Roxie Hart” in the West End production of the hit musical, Chicago, for an eight week run. She also appeared off-Broadway in Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead, directed by Trip Cullman.
In October 2012, Ferrera appeared as an activist and correspondent in Showtime’s Emmy® Award-winning Years of Living Dangerously, which explores the acts, science, and human cost of climate change. In the same year, Ferrera joined reporter Nicholas Kristof and actresses Diane Lane, Eva Mendes, Meg Ryan, Gabrielle Union and Olivia Wilde in the four-hour, internationally broadcasted television series for PBS Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide. The social documentary series, an inspiring program that captivates the struggling and empowering stories of females fighting for change, was shot in ten underprivileged countries.
In tandem with her work on the Half the Sky series, Ferrera served as ambassador on the campaign, “America4America” joining Voto Latino, the leading non-partisan national youth