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Astrid Rivera: “Food equity and access for everyone”

Currently I am interested in continuing to spread a message about love and hope by empowering women in many aspects of their lives, and being a voice for women who have faced challenges in both their personal and professional lives. Through my series “From Soldier to Soldier” I am bringing light to the topic of […]

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Currently I am interested in continuing to spread a message about love and hope by empowering women in many aspects of their lives, and being a voice for women who have faced challenges in both their personal and professional lives. Through my series “From Soldier to Soldier” I am bringing light to the topic of sexual harassment in the military, which I experienced for myself, through conversations I am having with other military personnel who have encountered the same experiences. I am looking to create a dialogue about some of the topics that make us a bit uncomfortable to help create a new, and comfortable, space for addressing such topics.

As such, I am looking to expand my audience reach and would love to explore doing more projects in English because this topic, among others, does not know cultural boundaries, I know it will be a new challenge in my career and it is something I feel I am ready for at this time — the time is now! Specifically, I am interested in doing documentaries, there are so many stories out there needing to be told in a long format, such as has been the case for so many personal stories affecting women.


As a part of our series about Inspirational Women In Hollywood, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Astrid Rivera.

Astrid Rivera is a bilingual journalist and content creator with more than 10 years of experience covering high profile news, human interest, lifestyle and entertainment stories. While she is not an actor, she is an on-air reporter and producer for Despierta America, Univision’s daily national morning show where she has won two Emmys.

Astrid is also an eight-year Army Veteran, where in 2006 she traveled to Egypt to be part of Operation Bright Star, which began a friendly training exercise to better relations between Egypt and the U.S.

Because her time in the Army presented her with sexual harassment challenges, Astrid has leveraged her public profile and unique position as the only Latina Veteran on Spanish-language national TV to create an online conversation called “From Soldier to Soldier” to interview other military women about their sexual harassment experiences. For Astrid, it’s very important to continue the conversation and seek justice for Vanessa Guillen, and all the military women who have been silenced one way or another about all those years of abuse.

Astrid is a mother of three children and is also co-founder to Frida & Olivia, a new concept jewelry line for the versatile, modern & strong woman.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

I grew up in one of the smallest towns in Puerto Rico, surrounded by my family on a mountain. My neighbors, in some way or another, were also considered family when I was growing up. It is still a beautiful and wonderful place, and my mom and dad still live in the same home. Sometimes, it feels like I never left when I am there.

Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?

Since I was 7 years old, I knew that I wanted to be a journalist and work on a TV show — I always saw myself doing TV nationally. At 8 years old, I used to practice with a hairbrush — using it as my handheld microphone as if I were already on television. I made my own reporting stories and I loved asking about everything, and finding out about things. I was never interested in doing anything else.

Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

One of the most interesting things since starting my career is that while I was working as a journalist in one of the most important radio stations in Colombia (I worked remotely from the Miami office, and the station is also broadcast in the United States), I got pregnant with my third child. At that time, I worked in the morning and went to a local public university (for those who are curious, it was FIU — Go Panthers!) in the afternoon to finish my master’s degree in journalism. My husband often traveled for work at the time and I had to take my two oldest children with me to classes while he was away. They accompanied me many times and they were part of my process in achieving a graduate degree. At the time, my oldest son was 6 years old and my daughter was almost 2, and I find it all interesting and I still think about it today and say to myself: ‘Wow! How did you do everything at the same time — be a professional, finish one more goal, and have the kids as a priority?!’

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I once went to a red carpet and did not know the names of various artists and celebrities who were there to walk the carpet. It was my turn to interview one of them and I asked him his name very innocently, and he was offended by the fact that I did not know his name. He denied me the interview at the time and walked away. I learned that it is very important to know absolutely everything (or at least as much as you can) about the person, event or subject you are going to cover in advance of your interview time. Barbara Walters once said something along the lines of never going into an interview with a person without first knowing more about this person than they know about themselves. I think it is applicable across the board in my field, and it is something that has stuck with me ever since — I definitely learned from the opportunity on the red carpet and it has made me a better journalist.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I feel blessed to have people in my life who have always believed in me and given me many opportunities. Hard work, personal ambitions and motivation go a long way, and I realize that without the combination of these attributes and the opportunities, I could have not achieved anything. My mom has been a great support in everything that I have wanted to do ever since I was a little girl. I remember telling her what I wanted to be when I grew up, and she did not hesitate to find things to encourage me to pursue this path in journalism. She took me to castings, put me in classes, shared my achievements with people, and that has always been very important to me.

In college I had a mentor named Dr. Michael Smith, I was the only student in the entire communications department who spoke English as a second language. He believed in my ability, although at first he did not understand my Spanish, nor did I understand his English. He had patience with me, he challenged me, and he took great care of me. He made me realize that not knowing English as a first language was not an obstacle but a great opportunity. At the end of the day, I was going to know not one, but two languages.

And now, in order to achieve all that I have achieved, the support and understanding of my husband is vital. I can dream and create my reality because there is a person by my side giving me that extra push I sometimes need to continue achieving my dreams.

You have been blessed with great success in a career path that can be challenging. Do you have any words of advice for others who may want to embark on this career path, but seem daunted by the prospect of failure?

Journalism is a very competitive field, especially broadcast journalism. I always recommend to be prepared, be persistent, and be consistent. Help others, work as a team, and always treat people with kindness and courtesy — from the security guard to the president of a company — in the end, we all work in the same place and we all depend on one another.

It is also important to dare to ask; to ask for what you want. We always think that people who see us on TV know what we want, but they do not. It is important that you are clear about what you want and that you ask your boss, let them know what you want to accomplish and do not be afraid if people think your request or desire is extraordinary. You too are extraordinary.

What drives you to get up everyday and work in TV and Film? What change do you want to see in the industry going forward?

The people, the stories that can change someone’s life. At the end of the day, without an audience we are nothing as journalists. Being able to receive those messages that tell you things like: ‘I loved what you did today because I identify myself with it’ is very fulfilling for me as not only a professional, but as a human being. To be able to help indirectly and reach individuals is very uplifting for me, and I hope my audiences take some of what they see on TV and apply it in their own lives.

I will never forget the day I reported on a story about a woman who had been a victim of domestic violence to such a degree that her ex-husband murdered her three children. It was a horrible, sad and inhumane story, but because of that story, more than 10 women wrote to me saying they were making the decision to abandon their partner. This for me was a relief from the tragic story I reported, and knowing that a story can help and change the lives of many people is very rewarding.

You have such impressive work. What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? Where do you see yourself heading from here?

Currently I am interested in continuing to spread a message about love and hope by empowering women in many aspects of their lives, and being a voice for women who have faced challenges in both their personal and professional lives. Through my series “From Soldier to Soldier” I am bringing light to the topic of sexual harassment in the military, which I experienced for myself, through conversations I am having with other military personnel who have encountered the same experiences. I am looking to create a dialogue about some of the topics that make us a bit uncomfortable to help create a new, and comfortable, space for addressing such topics.

As such, I am looking to expand my audience reach and would love to explore doing more projects in English because this topic, among others, does not know cultural boundaries, I know it will be a new challenge in my career and it is something I feel I am ready for at this time — the time is now! Specifically, I am interested in doing documentaries, there are so many stories out there needing to be told in a long format, such as has been the case for so many personal stories affecting women.

We are very interested in looking at diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture and our youth growing up today?

Visibility matters, representation matters. It empowers those who do not have or have been denied a voice, and it encourages all of us to learn about people we might not understand or who may be different from us and our own realities. Not having representation contributes to a lack of understanding of and empathy for different people. We have to understand that society is not monolithic but multifaceted. It is crucial to have diverse storytellers, actors, directors, producers, writers, reporters, personnel on screen and behind the scenes. This is the culture we strive to live in and make in America, and we must remember to be open to accepting our differences, to being compassionate and kind, because they are what help make us stronger together.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

When I first started my professional career in journalism, I wish someone had told me just how hard it can really be to be a professional who operates with honesty and integrity. Fortunately for me, I feel I had a strong values-based upbringing and education thanks to my parents, teachers and mentors along the way. It can be very easy to lose sight of yourself and get caught up in the day-to-day of things, so it is essential you take time to reflect everyday to reconnect and realign with yourself and your intentions.

Additionally, I previously mentioned knowing as much as you can about a subject matter when preparing for an interview. While doing your research is essential and part of the job to help make you a better storyteller as a journalist, it is just as important to be fair to yourself and to the subject or topic of your interview. A healthy balance of curiosity, empathy and compassion go a long way when trying to uncover the real story behind someone or something. Be patient with yourself and your subjects, and you will find that in due time, the story you are after will reveal itself if you look and listen carefully.

Can you share with our readers any self care routines, practices or treatments that you do to help your body, mind or heart to thrive? Please share a story for each one if you can.

First, I believe that mind, body and heart are all connected together. I take care of my body by eating healthy. Even though I do not consider myself to be vegan or vegetarian, I have adopted a practice of not eating a lot of meat or animal protein. I have completely eliminated red meat from the foods I eat, and it has helped me a lot with my Hashimoto’s condition. I drink celery juice almost every morning, and this has helped me reduce bloating, and my skin looks better than ever.

I also try to get enough sleep — sleeping and rest is so important for our bodies. I also practice meditation and relaxation techniques to keep my stress levels down. I drink turmeric milk when I feel overwhelmed and it helps tremendously.

But the most important thing of all is my mental health, I love to surround myself with positive and inspirational people. I listen to music, and I love Christian music — it helps me a lot and it gives me peace as it calms me.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

This too shall pass.” I even have a tattoo with this phrase. To me it means that, like everything in life, this event or moment in time will also eventually pass. Nothing is permanent in this world and everything will move on, both the good and the bad. Therefore, enjoy every moment as it will pass. And remember that if you are going through a dark phase in your life, there is always light at the end of the tunnel. Pain does not last forever.

You are a person of huge influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

Food equity and access for everyone. Poverty is real, and access to food should be seen as a collective effort instead of as an individual one. Access to food is a social problem that many residents and communities face, including the almost 30 million children who rely on reduced-price or free lunches from the National School Lunch Program. Children need to be protected against hunger.

Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have lunch with, and why? Maybe we can tag them and see what happens!

I would love to have lunch with not one, but three persons:

  1. First, Daddy Yankee — everything that he has accomplished in the music industry is admirable. Talking to him would be wonderful, and I feel he is someone who through music brings me closer to my culture, to my people, to my island of Puerto Rico.
  2. Secondly, Iris Arpel — with Iris I think a lunch date would be a great opportunity to talk about life, and about that feeling of turning 99 years old. It would be pretty incredible to learn about fashion from a woman who has more than 9 decades of experiencing all kinds of trends. I would also love for her youthful spirit to embrace me.
  3. And third, Nadia Murad — during our lunch we would have a heart to heart conversation. I would like to give her a hug in solidarity for all the things she has had to go through, and I would like to tell her that it has all been an inspiration for other young women who, because of religion and patriarchy, are repressed from their freedom. With Nadie Murad, I would even dare to talk about humanitarian projects to do together.

Are you on social media? How can our readers follow you online?

Yes, I am on social media and you can find me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter by following @astridriveratv. I always look forward to engaging with real people and their stories on social media — I find it to be a great way for us to connect despite any geographic barriers. I am always looking for story ideas and they can come to me from some of the conversations I have with people on these platforms.

This was so informative, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!

Thank you so much for the opportunity to connect with you and share a bit about myself, as well as my personal and professional stories. I am grateful for being considered as a part of this interview series and I hope my story helps inspire others to share their own.

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