Julissa Calderon might not be a name everyone is familiar with personally, but rest assured you absolutely know her professionally. She’s the woman who went from being a waitress to working at Buzzfeed, and she’s been everywhere in between ever since. She’s now part of something that is so much bigger than even she could have imagined with her entire life on display. “Gentefied” was written just for her, and now she’s giving the Latinx a voice. She’s got it all handled, and she can honestly say she is living her best life. Want to know more about her? We do, too.
1. She’s a Former Florida Gator
We are a Florida Gator household, so we appreciate and adore her even more knowing that she went to school here. She began school here in hopes of becoming a nurse, but she decided to take things a different way in her life, though she does come back to the school to speak. She’s a Gainesville celebrity, and we love that she’s a celebrity without walking off the football field — not that we don’t adore our local football celebs, too.
2. She Fell for Theater, Hard
She was having a rough day after scoring an F on a Chem test (maybe a 62 is a D now…but it wasn’t when I was in school). She was feeing low, not happy with herself, and she was just walking along when she saw a bunch of theater kids dancing near a bus stop. They were having fun, and she wasn’t happy that she wasn’t, and that’s how she came to be part of the theater. It’s where she met her best friend. It’s where she came to life. It’s what made her fall for Gainesville.
3. She was on Revenge
We adored Revenge, and we remember her. She played a waitress, and her role was not a big one, but we remember. That was one of the best shows to come out of the 2010 decade, and we miss it. Why aren’t there more shows like that one on television anymore? Also, this is me making a mental note to go back and re-watch the series in a binge-y Netflix situation.
4. She’s Dominican
We should know this by now as she is so proud of her heritage and her culture, but she was not raised in Dominican Republic. She was actually raised in both New York and Miami. She was born in New York, and her family moved to Miami, which is where she was raised. She now lives in LA since she’s working so hard as an actress, and we love that she’s been everywhere.
5. She Loves Delivering Speeches
Probably because she’s good at it, but she’s someone who will not say no to being able to give young people something inspirational to get them going. She’s done it at UF, which is her alma matter, but she also does speeches elsewhere. She’s been to Emory University and Wake Forest, but that’s just a small number of places she’s been to make sure that kids getting their education are also getting something else they need to move on in life — hope and motivation.
6. She Works for Buzzfeed
She makes videos for the site, and she is good at it. It seems that she still works there, too, but we might not see her doing that for much longer now that her career is taking off. It’s nice to have a steady gig when you’re only hoping to get work here and there, but she’s got it going on in a big way right now. As a result, we would not be surprised if she ended that working relationship sooner rather than later, but that’s a situation that will change as things go on.
7. She’s Positive
If there is nothing else to say about her and admire about her, it’s her positivity. She has one of the best attitudes of anyone we’ve ever met. Her social media feed is filled with positive affirmation, with happy thoughts, with so much gratitude. She’s clearly someone who is going to embrace the attitude of gratitude any chance she can, and that is what makes it all feel so good and look so good. She’s someone we should all aspire to be like.
8. She Was Homesick as a Nursing Major
The star did not like her time at UF when she was going into nursing. She didn’t realize it at the time, but it was not her passion. She was missing home, she was homesick all the time, and she was making her weekends shorter by spending them driving home to be with her family every single chance she got. That’s a long drive since she lived in the Miami area, but she just didn’t feel as if she fit in at school until she met her theater friends. That’s when she finally felt the need to stay put, to have fun, and to embrace her life in Gainesville.
9. She Had to Tell Her Mom Her Plan
We imagine she was a little nervous to call her mother and tell her that she planned on switching majors. She didn’t want to be a nurse anymore. She wanted to be an artist of some sort. She wanted to be part of the world that made her truly feel happy and welcome, and she had to tell her mother that news. Thankfully, her mother supports her more than anything.
10. It Was Her Accent that Held her Back
For a long time, she didn’t get any work even though she auditioned what felt like a million times. She was told time and time again that her accent was the problem. It was too strong, and that meant that she didn’t get the part. What’s so amusing about this is that she didn’t even know she had an accent at the time. It wasn’t something she recognized at all, even though she grew up speaking Spanish at home.
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