Ananda Cordova Stuart (19) is probably one of the most charismatic and open-minded people I have ever met. No matter where she goes, she is always shining with soulfulness and her Latina temperament. When I visited her for the first time in her hometown Minneapolis (USA), I barely knew her. We got to know each other only briefly through a common friend in Germany. Nevertheless, she was more welcoming than I ever could have imagined.
Even her family was so hospitable and welcomed me like a member of the family. I could write a story about every single member of Ananda’s family. Her mom Linda, who works for AFS and organizes international relations for people. This means that the Cordova Stuarts have international guests and friends in the house every summer. Then there is her dad Mauricio, who came to the USA for love. He was actually born in Ecuador where family comes first. That’s why his heart is divided in two and he is still rooted with his family in South America. The 5-year-old Matea, the youngest of three siblings, who infects everyone in the house with her impulsive and euphoric nature. And Luca, who always seemed a bit European to me. Or maybe it was because he’s a football enthusiast.
You and your family have an incredible history. You are the epitome of multiculturalism. What does that mean for you personally?
Well first I just wanted to say thank you! It means the world to me, quite literally. I have so much pride being raised in a bicultural household. It’s my roots, and I carry it with me as I walk through the world. Personally that word just reminds me of my childhood and being raised with a white mother and a Latino father. Multiculturalism is so important and I hold it very close to my heart.
You have combined the story of your parents‘ meeting with your great passion, the musical theatre. You wrote a play about it which was successfully performed. How does it feel to see the story of your parents on stage especially because you directed it yourself?
For my Freshman and Sophomore year of highschool I went to FAIR. At that school I took a playwriting class and that is where I was encouraged to write my own story. I wanted to write about something that inspired me and for so much of my life that has been my parents and their love story. So I interviewed them both and began to write. I wrote the story of how they met and their time in Ecuador when my mom studied abroad there. The play was set in Ecuador and was chosen to be preformed for that school years Spring play.
It was an honor to have my work on stage. I was in another show at the time and unfortunately couldn’t perform in the play or even see it. But my parents went and I imagine it was a really special experience for them. Later my senior year I directed for the first time a song cycle “Fugitive Songs”. It feels amazing to have my voice heard and for my teachers to believe in me so much that they chose to perform my play. I feel very lucky and proud of my work because I poured my heart and soul into that play titled “Nueva.”
What is the USA for you and what is Ecuador for you?
I’m very lucky to have been born in the United States. When I was younger I didn’t quite feel that way. The United States to me used to be a place of greed and shame. It was the country where Trump got elected. The place were slavery got out of hand. The country that paints people of color as criminals. My parents‘ love and the safe space they created in our home helped me forget about the pain that the United States has caused. It made me love Ecuador more.
Ecuador has always and will always be my favorite place on earth. Ecuador is the second most collectivist country in the world (first is Guatemala) and what that means is you rely on each other. In Ecuador you don’t even walk to the bank alone, there will always be friends or family to accompany you. I think there is something so beautiful within that. It’s unique to travel as one and to have each others back so much that it’s engraved in your overall culture.
Now the older I get I see the flaws in Ecuador. It’s extremely classicistic and where you come from (how rich you are) matters. This helped me also realize some good in the United States. Traveling back and forth to visit family I realized something: In the United States I have opportunities that my peers in Ecuador might not have. I know the only reason I got to travel so much and learn so much about the world is because of my privilege to be a United States citizen. So over all the US means opportunity and success while Ecuador means love, faith, and beauty.
Do you think you would have become an actress if you had grown up in Ecuador? Because you are definitely very talented and passionate but the circumstances might have been different there.
Honestly probably not. When I was little I never really dreamed of being an actor. First I wanted to become a fashion designer or a makeup artist. I was always super girly and enjoyed dressing up. It wasn’t until 4th grade when I transferred to an interdisciplinary arts middle school that I accidentally fell into the arts. I don’t believe I would have been exposed to the same things in Ecuador so I don’t think I would be an actor. Which is kind of crazy to think.
You once asked your mother in your podcast what she thinks a Global Citizen is? What is a Global Citizen for you?
To me a Global Citizen is anyone who holds value in travel and learning about cultural differences. The kind of people that wake up everyday ready to challenge the societal norms and make social justice a way of life not just something to always fight and stride for.
For me, you are definitely a Global Citizen. Where do you get your confidence and energy from?
I wish I could give a long story about how one day I woke up and found confidence and passion. The truth is I learned it all from watching my mother. I am the person who I am today because of her, hands down. She is the perfect example of a Global Citizen in my eyes and she’s pushed me to better myself and challenge my learnings for as long as I can remember. My mother isn’t the kind of mom to comb my hair after a hard day, she has always been a motivator and an example to get right back up and keep the fight going. So I would really dedicate almost all of my learning to her.
Now a slightly different question. What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?
This question has been on my mind a lot lately. I took a gap year this year and I started exploring all my options for the next years to come. I kept asking myself what it was that I really wanted to do. If I knew I couldn’t fail I would move to San Francisco and go to college there and work for my favorite boss in a brand new restaurant while I begin to create my own company for youth that are interested in the arts as well as multiculturalism. I would begin to explore both and create a program for youth actors to travel around the world on exchange programs where they could learn about other parts of the world and create art from their learnings. It would be like a Summer program that you have to apply to and eventually will become highly competitive.
Final question: Can you give the readers a piece of advice for life from what you experienced or what you learnt in your life?
The best piece of advice I’ve ever received is “life is not a race”. When I made the decision to take my Gap Year I was so afraid that I would be behind the rest of my peers. That fear has not 100% completely gone away but the motivation to choose the path less traveled has.
Currently the biggest advice that I can give is to take the leap of faith. Do that thing that you have been wanting to do for literally so long but you chose not to do it for tons of reasons. I bet most of those reasons are other people’s opinions of you. LET THAT GO! BE YOU! Make the choices that in the long run will make you smile or make you learn. Once I accepted that life isn’t a race and I was going to do things at my own pace, I began to enjoy the curve balls and challenges of life.
This was the amazing Ananda Cordova Stuart. A girl with growing awareness that is incredibly inspiring and appreciative. If you want to know more about Ananda, her life, her history and her family, you should listen to her podcast Fake Adulting or check out her blog.
And with this: Amaos los unos a los otros! Adios bitchachos!