Andrea Granera, artist

Andrea Granera is a woman in constant movement. Born in Los Angeles and raised between Nicaragua and Oakland, Granera thrives in the in-between, a concept she was thrown into as a child but that has served her as a constant source of inspiration and exploration as an actress, model, photographer, and writer.

It’s these environments and experiences that also inspire her aesthetic, which she describes as “urban Latina girlhood.” It’s clear by her black crop top, white Nike Air Force 1s, and skinny jeans she wore to meet the Emperifollá team in her Brooklyn apartment.

In this interview, she discusses her artistic career, how aesthetics apply to acting, and how the word “chocho” (a Puerto Rican slang for “vagina”) is the Nicaraguan equivalent of emperifollá.

On Style:

Early on, it was Barbies. I think that Barbies and the market of girlhood is really big for Latina women, and that is a reality. It’s not innocent, it’s a socialization. But it did influence me. There was Barbies and then there was Bratz. I think Bratz was one of my first influences of style because they had a passion for fashion and they were wearing outfits exactly like the one I’m wearing today. As soon as Bratz came out, it was over for any other doll. I would still – to this day – rock so many of their pieces. 

My style is very heavily influenced by urban Latina culture. So the dress stores with very frilly, colorful dresses and first Communion, fake flowers – girlhood. You’d find it more in Brooklyn, Oakland, Miami, Los Angeles. These things are very influential. I mostly buy my clothes from thrift stores. 

I went to Catholic school and we had to wear uniforms, which was hard. I remember there were days when we could wear whatever we wanted and I used to see what other girls used to wear. The brands of the early 2000s are iconic, like Baby Phat, Rocawear. I think there’s something so unapologetic about early 2000s style and there’s something so fun and free about it. There’s something about it that reclaims femininity in a coy way. 

I think aesthetics is a part of acting that a lot of people might not automatically assume. What is more important in acting is can you visualize the world that you are going to be in?As an actor, even if you didn’t write that world, you have to have a version of that world to see. Whenever I’m doing a character, I mood boarding, making a playlist. I think what I do with my characters I try to find the connective tissue between me and them. 

On Beauty:

I’m a very spiritual person and I think a lot about beauty. I think in our society beauty is thought of as something that is just physical and is to be consumed and on a one-dimensional level.  Aesthetic beauty is also very layered to me. Beauty is god to me, and I don’t believe in a white man as God. I believe in the Universe speaking to us and that’s what I think beauty is. There’s no functional purpose to beauty, it’s just for joy. It’s never just about having nice hair. It’s about how that makes you feel. It’s about feelings. 

In Nicaragua, we have a word for it. Chocho means like when somebody does something impressive but really it’s when a girl looks really cute or sexy and you’re like, “¡Chocho!”

My routine… Okay. I was my face with Cetaphil. It had worked great thus far. Then, I use the Kiehl’s toner. I moisturize with Neutrogena. I just got on the SPF train with Aveeno. For makeup, I love Urban Decay eyeshadow and I also use them as a highlighter. I love Fenty Beauty lip gloss. But a lot of my stuff is from the drugstore and beauty supplies, which totally works for my budget. I almost always do a smokey eye and a wing and mascara. I have long eyelashes. I do have them and I try to own it. I also love to wear glitter. I think my favorite part is the makeup. I always have to be playing music – mostly female R&B. Sometimes I even pretend I’m a YouTuber, we all do it. I also love to lay my baby hairs. 

On Nicaragua + Oakland:

I grew up with a really interesting mix of worlds. Growing up in the Bay Area was very fun and very playful and there’s amazing style, art, and culture there. I would go to Nicaragua every summer and that’s where my cousins put me on to Juanes, Maná… This teenage culture and I would really get into it and get into teen novelas, like Cómplices al rescate. I would get really into it and then I would have to leave. I always used to think, “What if I had been raised in Nicaragua?” Because my mom made the decision to move here. I was born in Los Angeles, but we went back to Nicaragua– me, my mom, and my sister. My parents got divorced. I was a very introspective and talkative kid from an early age, so when we left, I was very vocal about it. I was like, “No entiendo por qué nos tenemos que ir.” I really did not want to move to the States. My mom just thought it was going to be a better place. 

There’s no way I can do anything without these elements of myself being at the core. I think Nicaragua is so important for me to keep talking about it. I think Central America, in general, is very looked over. Growing up, people would say that I am Mexican because they didn’t know about Nicaragua. It’s a beautiful country and it has such a rich history of revolution. It still does and it’s still under a lot of turmoil from the government. My family is very political in Nicaragua –the Graneras. My aunt Violeta Granera ran for vice president. She is a very outspoken woman. I learned that after I found my voice as an activist so there’s no coincidence and that’s part of my story. And then, Oakland, California, is a very important place for me to center in my work. I’m working on making a film there right now. Oakland is such a special, history, down-to-earth city and it’s become so rapidly gentrified. Growing up there were so many rich and special things that I want to commemorate and highlight. 

On Her Career: 

I am a creative. I trained in acting. Some people know me for that. Some people know me for photography. But what I think of myself as is just someone who uses art to say whatever they need to say at that time.

I’ve always been an artist. It’s probably one of the few things that have always been a constant in my life and that I’ve always known about myself. From a young age, it was drawing. I would also write stories. I was always telling stories. I was making stories with my dolls and building worlds. In high school, I was introduced to the theater and I loved it. 

When I graduated high school, I didn’t know that you could pursue the arts in a serious way or that that was a feasible thing that I deserved. But, once I was out of high school for a year, I had been going to community college, I realized that I am a creative artist and that is who I am and I have to commit to that, whether it’s hard or not comfortable. I was so unhappy not doing that. 

I chose acting because it is a medium that is of the body. I feel like it’s a center of expression for me because it starts with my body. Everything else I do is also related. In photography, it’s about the connection I’m making with a subject. In filmmaking, it’s about the humanity in those stories. All my art is rooted in authenticity and humanity and I think that acting really anchored me in that space. So that’s been the creative concept of my journey in art marking.  

In terms of a career, I very much go with the flow of what I need to say at that time or what opportunities come up. Any opportunity to express myself, I’ll try it. If someone asks me to model, I see that as a way to express myself. If I need to write about, I’ll write something if that’s the best way to say it. And if I need to act about it or write a script or produce it to make it happen. It’s all about what role I need to be in for this project and how can I do that.

Frances Solá-Santiago

Born in Puerto Rico, based in New York City. She is the editor-in-chief on Emperifollá. Her work has been published in The New York Times, Rolling Stone, NPR, Glamour Magazine, Numéro, Refinery29, Remezcla, and Bustle.

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