Empowerment Series: Dominican Comedian-Actress from Fuse’s Like, Share, Dimelo, “De Lo Mio” and “Righteous Thieves,” Sasha Merci Shares Roots with AW
Sasha Merci’s credits include the film De Lo Mio, a Fuse series called Share, Like, Dimelo, and El Teteo in Los Angeles, as well as, collaborations with Bumble, AT&T, Heineken, and many other brands.
She began her career in music and then transitioned to an art form that would offer more freedom of expression and creative autonomy. Comedy. Did she imagine the amazing things that have unraveled in her career? The Dominican beauty, says that “A dream manifested when she was cast as Nadia for the Lionsgate film, “Righteous Thieves.”
AW had the opportunity to speak with Sasha. We discussed family, identity, and the use of the word Latino vs. Hispanic. The conversation took a personal turn when we talked about internal validation and personal loss. I was able to see myself in her story, and we connected on a human level.
The Bronx native is making an impact on and off the screen. She is using personal experience as a 2nd generation Dominican to help our community open dialogue on topics that have long been taboo. As the daughter of Dominican immigrants myself, and raised in New York, I related to a lot of what she shared with me.
Before we begin, I have to ask, did you buy that house, yet? Not yet but working on it. As I’ve said in previous interviews, my parents will not understand the success or what I am doing until I buy a home for them. The question is usually “What are you doing because you aren’t doing it for me.” My dad has always been a humble man. His talks usually start with “God willing,” words that have been crucial to me during my upbringing. I stay true to my authenticity, the Universe will do the rest.
In a past interview, you mentioned how complex we are, as human beings. I have Dominican roots and understand how difficult it is to be open and honest about experiences with family, love, sexuality, colorism, and the generational trauma we carry. How hard has it been to be so vocal and honest with your comedy? Have you received any pushback from family or the community? I’ve reserved myself a lot in the last couple of years. I’m not posting as much and finding a lot of growth over time. Instead of being on the defensive side of things, and trying to be the voice for everyone; I’ve had to ask myself, am I being authentic and true to people that are like me?
Sometimes, we respond out of outrage. But through growth, I realized, if I’m going to respond, as a Comedian, I want to be funny but also, real. I feel like things can change with humor and one can address the elephant in the room with laughter.
Your candidness is refreshing and empowering. We need more Sasha and Aida Rodriguez to help crack open all the taboos around these topics. In conversation with Karina from Hot 93.3, you discussed using the words Hispanic, Latina, Latino, and Latinx. I will throw in Latine´! I can’t deny that I get confused with so many different terms but I’m okay with Latina. When asked, how do you express your Latinidad? Why do you think these labels keep evolving? How important is it to you that we get it right? I think education, having everyone on the same page and learning about its meaning is important. Hispanic and Latino can be triggering to some people and not others. It’s about our different experiences, our relationship with the terminology, how someone grows up, and what it was like during their time. I understand the need to create a new word but we should want the term to represent all of us.
I recently learned, if you are Hispanic, you are Spanish-speaking from a country colonized by Spain. When you are Latino, you are from a Latin country that was colonized by Latin European countries, such as France, Portugal, and Spain. It is not an easy conversation, people may listen to or read this interview, and not everyone will be on the same page.
I consider myself Latina and can refer to myself as Latinx or Latine´. I am not offended by any of it. Words are ever-changing, as we are continuously evolving. The only way to have real change is by expressing compassion and understanding for one another.
I love seeing Latinas rise. It is critical to see ourselves in the success of those forging a path to greatness. You are creating content that is relatable, authentic, and entertaining. Now, you are taking on the role of “Nadia” in the film, “Righteous Thieves.” Can you share a little about the role and what it means to you, as a child of Dominican immigrants, growing up in the Bronx, to be part of this production? This was always a dream! My reality starts with being 3 months old, taken to the Dominican Republic to live with my grandparents. I resided with all the comforts of a big home and hired help until the age of six. When I returned to the States, I had to adjust to living in a one-bedroom with my dad and six other people. I did not know the language and was bullied in school, like many others. But no matter how small my life felt, I knew I wanted more and better for myself.
I remember receiving the movie’s trailer before release and sending it to my brothers. They said, “I can’t believe it, you manifested this moment!” I want to thank Jolene for the opportunity, she truly made this happen. I look forward to seeing people invest in her to see how much more amazing things can be!
Nadia is a badass! I tapped into my high school girl, tough exterior. She is a locksmith by day and a safecracker by night. The woman is talented at what she does. She is consumed by the skill and uses it as a form of expression and freedom. When building my world for this character, I saw her as someone who loves a challenge. Nadia gets an exhilarating feeling from breaking into your secrets. There is power in knowing, “Whatever you’re trying to hide, I am going to find it!” Playing this character pushed me to find out what I’m into and figure out what makes me come alive, something I loved about this character.
What is next for Sasha? Hopefully, more movies, TV shows, and stand-up. El Teteo is still happening and is special to me. I have grown from it while seeing it come to fruition. I love to see people have a good time and put their “stuff” aside to enjoy the moment. Seeing the event evolve so much in Los Angeles is marvelous and telling, Dominicans are everywhere! We show up in rain, snow, and storms, as a true testament to our spirit and resilience. There are many layers that we need to grow from but if I didn’t come from a Dominican household or had a dad that went through what he did, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Although, I don’t agree with many of the cultural norms. I can only live the way, I want to present in the world and be an example for the newer generation.
AW likes to end interviews with a piece of advice, mantra, or quote to inspire. You are creating your dream while staying true to yourself. What advice can you share with anyone who may feel like they have to bargain their authenticity to realize a goal or dream? It is a tricky question but I will say, “Nothing is more important than our internal validation.” It’s difficult because everyone wants to be liked, and loved, and when you are in the world of entertainment, you want to be the center of attention.
You have to focus on internal validation because regardless of how much you do, everybody is a critic. You will try your best but people will make you feel like your best is not enough. Show up authentically. Live in your actual spirit because humans can feel your energy and know when you are being real, this is how you become relatable. When you fall in love with yourself, people will gravitate toward you.
AW extends its deepest appreciation to the dynamic Sasha Merci for sharing so much of herself with us. It was truly a gift to engage in honest and candid conversation on matters that can sometimes be difficult to discuss. When I began the AW journey, I never thought I’d have such a learning curve. Every interview, I have done has a different impact but more than that, I am inspired by each one.
Growing up, I did not understand the importance of embracing my roots. Dominican food, music, culture, and traditions are all part of who I am. My parents are immigrants from the Dominican Republic, who left everything familiar to them and came to the US in search of a better life. Were it not for their dreams, I wouldn’t be where I am today and for that, I will be eternally grateful.
To learn more about Sasha, visit Instagram or Twitter @Sashamerci.
*This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
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