What ‘Orange is the New Black’ Actress Diane Guerrero Wants Americans to Know About Colombia
The new face of Marriott's #LoveTravels campaign talks packing tips, coffee, and her home country.
Earlier today, Marriott International debuted a new chapter of its #LoveTravels campaign, this time reaching out to America's growing latino population. The series—which has previously focused on LGBT travelers—features video portraits of Latino influencers like actor Diego Boneta, YouTube phenomenon Boyce Avenue, and actress Diane Guerrero speaking to their travel passions and reflecting on what it means to be Latino-American.
Guerrero, perhaps most recognized for roles on the binge-worthy Orange is the New Black or critic-favorite Jane the Virgin, is also increasingly raising her voice as an activist for immigration reform, an issue Marriott highlights in the campaign.
“I am passionate about human rights, in particular immigration reform and the non-separation of families. It’s so personal to me,” Guerrero says in her #LoveTravels video campaign of her parent's deportation. “My family is in Colombia; they’ve been there since I was a kid, so when I get to see them, it’s special because I don’t get to see them often. It means I get to see my roots, I get to see where I came from. It reminds me of who I am.”
We chatted with Guerrero about her involvement in the project, and while she was tight-lipped about spoilers for Orange is the New Black season 4—“I really can’t say anything because it’d be spoiling it for everyone!”—she did weigh in on her upcoming memoir, her travel bucket list, and what she wants Americans to know about Colombia, below.
Tell me a little about Love Travels and why you wanted to get involved.
Love Travels is the idea of incorporating what you really love into your travel experience, and that idea means a lot because I travel to pursue some of my deepest passions: my family, first and foremost, my work, and also finding new adventure, which is a big part of who I am. I think about these things constantly— and I’m constantly on the move. When I was presented with the idea of Love Travels, I really opened up a lot of what I’m interested in, and I thought it was a perfect match.
You have a memoir coming out in 2016—what has that writing process been like for you?
It has been one of the most challenging things I’ve ever done, and challenging in many ways: the work and the focus that you have to have, and the patience is huge. But not only that—having to relive your childhood experiences or really having to open that part of you up is challenging at times, but quite rewarding.
It’s been a great experience, and I’m happy to do it, but sometimes I’m ready to say you know what? Maybe I don’t have to share right now, and I want to call the publisher up and say ‘no, I don’t want to do this.’ But each time I get through a chapter, and I read it back, it’s something that no one else can take away from you. That’s your story. It’s been a wonderful process, and I’m so excited to share the book when it’s all said and done.
You’ve mentioned that you visit your family in Colombia. Is there a certain part of the country that you want travelers to know about?
Recently I was in Armenia, which is an area in the west, about four hours from where my family is from, and it’s where most of the coffee is grown in the country. It’s called coffee country, it’s called los cafetales, and you have tons and tons of farms and growers of coffee there. It’s just magical: the mountains, the smell, the culture is very rich.
I had the pleasure of going with my dad and my boyfriend last year, and it was really a rewarding experience. My boyfriend is a coffee roaster, so he was very interested. Of the resources that my country has to offer coffee is one of the best. I really hope when people think of Colombia—I know they think of coffee because it’s one of the main exports, but—you often hear all this other stuff, and I feel like people don’t go and check out these beautiful areas of Colombia. You really see how hard working the people are and how delicious the coffee is. I would direct people to explore that side of the country.
Is there a specific restaurant or a place in the U.S. where Americans can get a taste of authentic Colombian culture?
Go to Queens. We have a huge, huge Colombian community in Queens, and you can find really yummy restaurants there. I go visit my uncle there, which it’s kind of a hike from where I live now, but it’s always worth it. It’s funny—when you explore New York, and every borough has something interesting to offer and every borough is different from the next.
Any packing tips?
During the week before you trip, start setting aside some of the things that make you happy. If I wait ’til the last minute, I’m never going to take anything that I’m happy with. During the week, look at pieces, whether it’s makeup or a certain necklace or a piece of clothing, and set it aside. Start early, so that at the end when you’re ready to pack, you have all your favorite items out, and those are the ones that you want to represent yourself with wherever you go. I would say that has been the best thing for me lately, especially since I’ve been traveling so much.
What is one spot on your bucket list?
There are so many places I’m dying to go to, but the one that popped into my head right now is the Maldives. I know it takes a really long time to get there, but have you seen pictures of what the sky looks like and what the beach looks like at night? The stars are so bright, and there’s an iridescent quality to the water there or the sand, and it looks phenomenal, and I really just envision me going there after an important project and having a moment to reflect. It looks like a really calm place I think that’s where my life is directing me now, a place where I can find some peace and find a place to meditate and really reflect on my life and what’s important to me. I’m sure it’s the fanciest place I could have picked, but I’ll take it!
Where to next?
My next trip is L.A., and that’s because I’ll start working on Jane the Virgin, so that’s a trip for work, but I’ll get to see my L.A. family, my California family, and those are people who I really care about so L.A.’s my next adventure for the fall.
Caroline Hallemann is the associate digital editor at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter at @challemann.