'Betty In NY' Aims to Inspire New Latinx Generation by Tackling Beauty Standards & Self-Confidence (Exclusive)
By Liz Calvario
There comes a time when a woman has to step outside her comfort zone.
Elyfer Torres is doing just that in Betty en NY, Telemundo's reimagining of Yo Soy Betty, la fea, which reintroduces the story of Ugly Betty to a new generation of Latinx viewers.
The new adaptation stars 21-year-old newcomer Torres as Beatriz “Betty” Aurora Rincón Lozano, an intelligent, Mexican-American woman who graduated with honors as an economist with a master in finance. In search of her dream job, Betty encounters many months of rejection. However, her bright and positive attitude lands her a job as a personal assistant to Armando Mendoza (Erick Elías), the president of fashion agency, V&M Fashion. The job is far below her qualifications, and has a slew of pros and cons, including being judged and humiliated on a daily basis for her unique sense of style. But with the support of a kind and generous group of secretaries called “El Pelotón,” and her friends and family, Betty refuses to let the negativity get in the way of her big dreams.
In ET’s special interview with the one and only Betty Aurora Rincón Lozano [Torres conducts the interview as her character], the aspiring businesswoman goes into detail about her new job at V&M Fashion, how she handles bullies and what her dreams and long-term goals are.
What do you love most about New York?
I love the multicultural vibe that it gives me -- and the buildings. When I am walking down the street or going somewhere I feel like I totally fit in this world, not like when I'm at work at V&M or at amazing fashion shows. New York makes me feel comfortable. I love the city and, at the end of the day, it’s my home and where I grew up.
How do you navigate the fast-paced and cut-throat world at V&M Fashion?
It’s a little bit hard because I look a little bit different. I have this different kind of beauty, and I totally feel that there is something in me that people don’t really like. But I am trying to ignore that because I know what I have to offer. I am so excited because since I graduated I have been looking for a job, and I got a position at V&M and it’s so amazing! I am so happy because I get the chance to help my parents with their income, help our whole family and also learn new things because I have never been involved in the fashion industry. That might also change how I dress too, and maybe I’ll get to wear cool outfits!
How did your parents respond to you accepting this new job as a personal assistant?
They were so excited too! OK... to be honest with you, I didn’t want to tell my dad what the job was about because I studied a lot, went to college and got a Masters degree, and he really appreciates all the effort that he and my mom did for me. They didn’t just want me to be a secretaria. That wasn’t what he wanted for me, so I had to lie a little bit to him. But my mom knows everything and she’s happy because she knows that I have an amazing opportunity to grow, and I know I will because that is what I have been studying my whole life for.
How did you decide that this was the right job for you at the moment?
Well, it’s not like I totally decided on this. But I was doing my internship at the World Trade Bank and they didn’t give me a job because, like I said before, I look different than other woman and another girl got it. It was so sad but I knew that there was an opportunity for me [out there]. Maybe not in the industry that I wanted, but somewhere where I could grow as an economist. I am happy at V&M. I am meeting a lot of new people. There’s a group of girls, called “El Pelotón,” that I love so much. And then my boss, he’s so kind. He needs a lot of help with numbers, he’s not very good at it [laughs]. Sorry!
As a Latina, what challenges have you encountered in your workplace?
To be honest, I am so happy to be working there because it's super multicultural. We have Mariana, she is Nuyorican, and then Sofía is Mexican -- just like me -- and Ana Maria... We are all from different places of the world so I don’t feel less. For example, at the World Trade Bank it was different because it was a man’s world, filled with American men. However, there are also difficulties here at V&M. Because of certain stereotypes of was beauty is, I feel uncomfortable. So it’s like a 50/50 thing.
At the fashion agency, like you expressed, you're surrounded by beautiful people all day. What do you think makes a person beautiful?
What makes a person beautiful is your soul and the way you think. Not necessarily in how smart you are, but how you think about other people, and how you're trying to change things. I don’t think beauty is about a look. I think beauty is inside, and you might think, ‘Everybody says that,’ but it’s true. The most important thing is what we have to offer. It doesn't matter where you’re from. What matters is who you are, what makes you you and what you have to offer to other people. And if you love yourself, there is nothing that is going to stop you. That’s what I believe!
What advice do you have for younger women who, at times, can feel self-conscious or insecure about their looks?
I would say don’t worry about what other people think. You never know who you are going to be. We are in a constant process of growing and, right now, you are in a place you might not be in tomorrow. Don’t be hard on yourself and don’t let anyone treat you or say things to you that are hurtful. You are the one that decides to gives them that power or not. If you don’t give them that power over you, then you're good because you are going to protect yourself. For example, I’m this Betty, I like this Betty even if other people don’t like her. I like her and she is enough for me.
Are you a big social media fan?
I’m not a huge fan of social media. I’m scared of it sometimes because people judge without knowing who you are. I’m scared that they are going to judge me for how I look, and that is one of my biggest fears in life. That's why I always try to have a positive attitude and be friendly because that is what matters to me. [Being judged], it’s one of my insecurity problems because, not just because I’m surrounded by beautiful women, and men [while at work], but also every day I am walking to the subway and I see these images that are not real. And I look at myself and say, ‘I don’t even feel identificada, you know?’ I don’t feel like it represents me or a big group of women. It’s important to have a group of friends that support you and encourage you.
Speaking of friends, is there someone in your life who you look up to and always go to for advice?
My mom, for sure. But there are some things that you cannot tell your mom because it’s embarrassing. So my friend, Nicolas -- He is super supportive and I trust him. He is my brother, not my biological brother, but he’s my brother forever and I trust him. All the stuff that I tell Nicolas, I tell the ladies of El Pelotón. I feel like they hug me and they make me feel better and I appreciate that so much!
You've previously been a victim of bullying. How do you handle negative comments that are aimed towards you, and what keeps you moving forward?
First, empathy. I think, 'What is going on with this person in their lives that they have to say mean things to me? What are they going through?' I just try to have empathy and say, 'Maybe they are going through a hard process, just as you are, and they are judging you because they don’t know you.' So if I open myself up a little bit more and show them that I am not what they think, then that might work. But if not, I’m not going to make that effort and I am not going to lose that energy. But I’m also scared to be myself sometimes because I don’t know what is going to happen. And I also believe them sometimes. To be honest, I also believe them when they say ‘You’re ugly.’ When I have all this media and beautiful women around me, I feel it and I cannot deny what I feel. It’s hard sometimes to accept that, but it’s been happening to me my whole life.
What are some of your hopes, dreams and long-term goals?
My big goal is to grow in the company and I also want to be el pilar de mi familia. I want to help them with everything that I can. All of our lives, my parents have been worried about money, so that is why I decided to be an economist so I could help them with money problems. So that’s my biggest goal, to help them estar tranquilos and not think about money and just be happy and enjoy life, because they are older and they always took care of me. I want to do the same for them. My hope and dream is to give them the life that I think they deserve.
As far as my other goals. OK, I have three things. I’ll tell you the most important thing for me: Find love. But there are two kinds of loves. The first one that I am trying to achieve is to love myself, but it’s really hard because I have been trying to but I just can’t. It's a process. That is my first goal. And my second goal would be: Having a man who loves me and respects me for who I am and not for how I look. And the third one: To be an amazing businesswoman in Manhattan and have my own company.
Sounds like some amazing goals! With this new job, is there a special guy you have you're eyes on? A crush?
Yeah, [giggles]. Oh my gosh, Liz! You made me so nervous. There is a guy... he’s Armando Mendoza. Oh my god, I just said it! Don't tell anyone! But he’s my boss, don’t tell anyone! He’s so cute, and so handsome and he’s Latino and... Latinos are hot! He’s kind, and he’s been treating me like a human being ever since I came onboard. He never said no to me because, 'Oh, you have braces' or 'Oh I hate your eyebrows,' or 'Oh, you have curly hair.' He was just like, ‘Wow, I love your resume. Wow, that’s a great ability. Wow, you’re so smart.’ En lugar de ver mis defectos, he was trying to see what I was good at, and I appreciate that. I think that all humans should be like him in that part.