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Pay It Forward

"Everyone please go see this show! You hear people say “Art is Resistance” . . . well this definitely fits that bill. You are taken on a journey with Irma from childhood, adolescence to adulthood. Her experiences navigating through sexism and racism pull you in because they are so relatable. Your memory is provoked regarding your own personal story about power dynamics and how they relate to your name, identity, culture, gender, ethnicity, immigration status and/or profession. I kept nodding my head at each scene because Irma was bringing

truth to power. I felt seen and heard!

~Vicky Castro (Facebook Post)

Thanks to the generosity of a handful of friends and the collaboration of 10,000 Degrees, a Bay Area based non-profit, 100 or more high school and college students from low-income families will see my one-woman show, Why Would I Mispronounce My Own Name? free of charge when I perform on October 13, in San Rafael, California.

The Showcase Theater has seating for 315 guests. And if you’d like to make it possible for even more students to attend, please consider a donation in any amount to 10,000 Degrees. If you haven’t yet seen my updated show (I’ve added new material since the El Paso massacre) you’ve got one more chance to see it this year.

Tickets are $25 (Early Bird Price) until September 13. Regular ticket price thereafter is $40.


The South Central Texas town of Alice, where I grew up with a population of18,000 people had no live theater. The movie theater on Main Street, The Rialto, showed the Hollywood movies everyone was seeing back in the 50s and 60s. Alice had a second movie theater, El Rio, on Reynolds Street a few blocks from our home, which showed Mexican movies (produced in Mexico). I remember the good-looking heartthrob Pedro Infante, dressed like a charro, dismounting his caballo and breaking out into a song.

We loved seeing the zany physical comedy of Cantinflas, who later became known to English-speaking “American” audiences in movies like Jules Verne’s Around The World in Eighty Days.

The Mexican movies at El Rio had nothing to do with our lives on this side of the border, and the characters and stories in the movies we saw at the Rialto likewise bore no resemblance to anything that happened in our world.

People sometimes ask me if I was into theater and drama in high school and college. Not at all, although I did take one drama elective in high school and the only part I remember ever playing was a male role with maybe two lines. What play was it? I have no recollection, but I do remember the teacher gave the best roles to the Anglo kids.

I saw my first live play some time when I was already in my 20s. and since moving to San Francisco almost four decades ago, I’ve been a regular theater goer, and little by little I have seen playwrights from the underrepresented communities make inroads in getting the stories of our communities on the stage. But it’s slow going.

Our screen time is woefully small. The Annenberg Inclusion Initiative at the University of Southern California released a study, “Latinos in Film: Erasure On Screen & Behind the Camera Across 1,200 Popular Movies,” at the end of August 2019. The study found that of the 100 top-grossing films each year from 2007 to 2018, only three percent featured Latino actors in lead or co-lead roles. Producers and casting executives fared badly, too, with Latinos making up only three percent. And they were equally rare in the director’s chair, helming four percent of movies studied during the 12-year period. In all, only 4.5 percent of the 47,268 speaking roles studied by researchers went to Latino actors.

I’m so glad to have discovered theater as a form of personal expression, and to have the opportunity to perform for diverse audiences. Some folks, well beyond the Latinx community report seeing themselves in my work, and other tell me they left the theater with insights about the importance of names, of how discrimination has affected various communities, and even how their actions may negatively impact others. Writing and performing have been a labor of love and I’ve been extremely gratified with my new career. I hear from students and young professionals how much they relate to experiences of feeling like we don’t belong, especially when we see few people who look like us in some of the spaces we inhabit.

So pleased to have been introduced to the work of 10,000 Degrees, whose tag line is “creating college graduates who change the world.” The organization’s mission is to help students from low-income backgrounds get to and through college in order to positively impact their communities and the world. I completely embrace its values statement: “Education is the foundation of a just and equitable society. Students and their families as well as schools and local leaders each play a critical role in educating the next generation and strengthening the economic vitality and social health of our communities.” Amen to that.

10,000 Degrees has already helped tens of thousands of students get ready for college and succeed in college with their mentorship programs, scholarships, child care support, and a range of other services. 10,000 Degrees is a 501(c)(3) non-for-profit corporation, and donations to 10,000 Degrees are tax-deductible. Learn more about 10,000 Degrees at

If you want your contributions to underwrite additional tickets to my show for 10,000 Degrees participants you can mail a check payable to 10,000 Degrees, 1650 Los Gamos Drive, Suite 110, San Rafael, CA 94903. Please note on your check in support of “Irma Herrera Show.”

And write, “Irma Herrera Show,” in the “Leave a Comment” section.

Thanks so much, for paying it forward.

And Bay Area friends, hope to see you there (even, if you’ve already seen it you’ll want to check out the updated version). And please invite your friends.

Why Would I Mispronounce My Own Name?

Written and performed by Irma Herrera

Showcase Theater, San Rafael, CA

Sunday, October 13, 2019 at 7 pm (one hour, no intermission)

Tickets $25 (Early Bird Price) through September 13, and $40 thereafter.

Available through link on my website:

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