The playwright spoke with 11th grade students about her life and work.
Josefina López is a writer and activist best known for her play “Real Women Have Curves.” The groundbreaking work centers on the lives of Latina immigrants working in a Los Angeles garment factory. (America Ferrera starred in the critically acclaimed 2002 film adaptation.) The play is part of the curriculum for 11th grade English. Earlier this year, students had the opportunity to hear from the author in person.
“It was a game-changer for students to meet the person behind the work,” said Upper School English Teacher Nika Cavat. “She spoke to students openly, without condescending to them. She made herself vulnerable, discussing things like her immigration status and her family, and shared how she was able to transform some of the challenges in her life into superpowers.”
Event moderators Celeste Molina and Evelyn Hernandez, both juniors, introduced López and asked questions submitted by their classmates. Students were curious to know how the specifics of the play related to the author’s own life and what inspired her to write it.
López discussed being raised in an immigrant family and the racism and sexism that she experienced and internalized. She said, “Writing was a way to express my truth without being punished for it. It was also a way to express anger, which I wasn’t supposed to have as a woman. Anger is a really positive emotion if you learn to use it as fuel—it can create possibility. ”
As she shared her experiences, López’s intensity and directness left an impression on the audience. As Evelyn reflected, “Josefina spoke with passion and in an unapologetic way. I was captivated. There was no way not to pay attention.”
Both Evelyn and Celeste found the play to be a meaningful choice as a text for their class. Celeste said, “The play gives a powerful perspective not only about working conditions but working conditions for immigrant women. It’s a very specific experience that is invisible to most people, but it was really interesting to see it in a play.”
Evelyn added, “I’m glad to be in a class that’s not scared to open up to big world problems.”