Actress to address immigration reform

Diane Guerrero

Diane Guerrero

On the hit Netflix show, “Orange is the New Black,” Diane Guerrero plays Maritza Ramos, a tough inmate who is quick with an insult. In reality, though, Guerrero is an outspoken citizen who cares deeply about immigration reform.

It’s this combination of fame and civic engagement that made the 30-year-old actress a perfect choice to headline “An Evening With” Nov. 14 at the UIC Forum.

“There’s the educational factor to it, but, then, she’s also a celebrity,” said event lead Rajas Gupta. “It’s not often that you get to be in the same room as a celebrity.”

The annual event is sponsored by the Student Activities Board and free for UIC students, faculty and staff. Doors open at 6 p.m., with Guerrero scheduled to take the stage at 7 p.m.

“The important thing is that students feel like this is our campus,” Gupta said. “She’s coming for us.”

Guerrero, who also stars as Lina on the CW’s “Jane the Virgin,” will speak about comprehensive immigration reform. In recent years, she has advocated for the Immigrant Legal Resource Center and Mi Familia Vota, a nonpartisan organization that promotes Latino/ citizenship and voter registration.

“She’s talking about important issues,” said student Cassandra Doman, who will introduce Guerrero at the event. “With all the tension that’s going on, especially in this country, I think that it’s important for people to learn commonsense immigration.”

Guerrero will also touch on her life story, which is both inspiring and heartbreaking. When she was 14 years old, her parents were deported back to Colombia because they were undocumented. She was able to stay in the U.S. because of birthright citizenship, but had to live at friends’ houses throughout high school.

“Sometimes people don’t take celebrities seriously,” Doman said. “For her, she has real-life experience that make her more than just a celebrity. She’s a real person.”

Guerrero overcame these challenges to become a success story. She illuminates her full, complicated life in her memoir, In the Country We Love: My Family Divided, which was released earlier this year.

The Student Activities Board will give 25 students the chance to meet Guerrero. More information will be posted on their Facebook and Twitter pages.

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