Santana Dempsey isn’t your typical Hollywood actress.
While others strive to fit into the quintessential “perfect” mold, Demsey embraces her beauty as a mixed race woman and uses her past to inspire those that feels different.
The actress, who was recently on HBO’s The Newsroom, is set to star in Lifetime‘s upcoming film, Shaker Pointe, alongside Corbin Bleu and Lil Romeo.
During our exclusive interview, Santana opened up about her past as an adopted child and how her life experiences have shaped her and her craft.
“I think my past made me a lot stronger, I have a lot of perseverance,” explains Dempsey. “I also feel like I’m very grounded in who I am. I don’t want to be anyone else.”
“You know, I’m not the typical Hollywood beauty, Im 5’2″ and have crazy curly hair. When I was younger, I think that really held me back. I just wanted to be like all the other cookie cutter girls, but now, with everything that has happened in my life, I just want to be myself.”
At the age of 6, Dempsey was adopted after living in foster care as a result of her mother’s death.
“I want to inspire people with my story, because there are a lot of people out there that are just like me who don’t have their story told. I wrote a play about this called The Other Box about my life and adoption and all the things I had to go through growing up. It’s really about not fitting into one box, being an adopted, mixed race child that didn’t really know about her past.”
“My past and everything that I’ve gone through… I trust it and I use it in my art. I’ll always stand up for anyone who feels different.”
She also described her struggle with her self-image, being a woman of color living life with white adopted parents.
“I think the thing about growing up with a white mom and dad that was a struggle was that that’s what I grew up wanting to be,” admits Dempsey whose birth parents were white and Afro-Caribbean. “Even as I got older, going through high school, college and eventually into the industry, that’s still kind of what I yearned to be.”
“I had to reprogram myself over the past 10 years to really embrace my own beauty. Women of color are fierce and just as beautiful as other women.”
Today, Santana is an ambassador for the Mixed Roots Foundation, a nonprofit organization that works to support adopted individuals by providing and streamlining more post-adoption and funding resources.
“Most organizations help people who are trying to adopt, but there’s really nothing for those who have been adopted. [Mixed Roots] is a community that provides support for those people and really raises awareness about the adoption experience.”
For more information about the organization, check out MixedRootsFoundation.org and also, don’t forget to keep up with Santana!
You can follow Santana Dempsey on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram!