February 18, 2020

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Selenis Leyva’s Clean Slate – The New York Times

Selenis Leyva’s Clean Slate - The New York Times


Selenis Leyva barely established foot out of the Bronx until finally she was recognized at Fiorello H. LaGuardia Significant College of Tunes & Artwork and Carrying out Arts on the Upper West Side of Manhattan.

“I especially remember strolling close to the community near university and asking yourself what it would be like to reside in one particular of those superior-rise flats,” she explained. “It was the top aspiration of this minimal Bronx lady: extremely fancy, a doorman and every person strolling their pet dog. It just seemed so glamorous to me.”

Ms. Leyva played the choose-no-prisoners kitchen area capo Gloria Mendoza on the Netflix collection “Orange Is the New Black,” but her concentrate has now shifted from the major property to the White Property, many thanks to her job as the mother of a would-be chief of the free of charge planet on the new Disney Furthermore sequence “Diary of a Potential President.”

There was a tale likely all-around LaGuardia that a classmate experienced lived in one of individuals “very fancy” places. Rumor even more experienced it that there was an Olympic-sizing swimming pool correct on the fancy-location premises. “Can you consider? Ideal in your constructing,” claimed Ms. Leyva, who is also the writer, with her transgender sister, Marizol Leyva, of the memoir “My Sister: How One Sibling’s Transition Adjusted Us The two,” thanks out at the finish of March.

Ms. Leyva no for a longer period has to consider these types of chlorinated splendor. For the previous two a long time, she and her daughter, Alina, 17, along with the family members canine and cat, have lived in a two-bedroom apartment in a high-increase rental not much too extremely significantly from LaGuardia Significant University. A lap pool is part of the package, not to mention a rock-climbing wall, a basketball court docket and a bowling alley.

“It feels like dwelling in a resort,” Ms. Leyva reported.



Profession: Actor

Mirror, mirror on the wall: “I have a full-size mirror that I contact the fantasy mirror. It would make you appear thinner. When you experience undesirable about yourself, you can stand in front of it and you’ll search amazing. And then you’ll carry that feeling out into the real earth.”


But you just can’t have all the things, even when you’re residing significant. Ms. Leyva has firsthand information of this. Quite a few several years ago, throughout a stint in Riverdale — “which is even now the Bronx, a small fancier, but still the Bronx” — she lived in a penthouse with a significant kitchen, an expansive terrace and a terrific watch.

Her first night time in home, Ms. Leyva turned on the lights in the kitchen area and noticed cockroaches by the rating. “It was the grossest issue,” she mentioned. “I cried and stayed up all evening with the lights on. I experienced to get the dishwasher taken out in order to get rid of them.”

The incident remaining its mark. Prior to going into the making on the Higher West Side, Ms. Leyva petitioned the tremendous and the administration company to let her go into the condominium late at night and flick the lights on and off a number of moments to make absolutely sure she had no freeloading roommates.

“They ended up like, ‘No, you just cannot do that,’” she explained. “But when I moved in, anything was excellent.”

It nonetheless is. Ms. Leyva utilized the move to the Lincoln Square community as a prospect to wipe the slate clean up. “I was equipped to get rid of loads of furnishings that experienced the vitality of specific other situations of my everyday living,” she said. “When I was married, I lived with a person who loved a good deal of shade. The position was active and eccentric. Now that I have my own area, I have exactly what I want: white partitions.”

Essentially, Ms. Leyva wished — and bought — very a great deal white almost everything: a white sectional to substitute an Ikea futon (“My daughter designed enjoyable of me about the futon” she reported) white dining area chairs a white desk chair a white accent chair topped with a white pillow a white bureau a white rug. (A black storage device beneath the television presents distinction the pops of coloration arrive by way of an abstract painting.)

“I wanted some thing uncomplicated on the eye,” Ms. Leyva claimed. “My mother claims I acquired white furniture so no one would want to visit. But I like readers.”

There’s a nod right here to Hollywood Regency, courtesy of the modern bar cart and the abundance of glass and chrome, leather-based and fake fur, geometric styles and shiny, reflective surfaces.

Ms. Leyva insists that she is no supporter of litter. Continue to, it would not actually really feel like dwelling with no the numerous photos of her family, like just one of her going for walks the purple carpet with her daughter at a Display screen Actors Guild Awards ceremony. And chances are life would be a little bit a lot less sweet without having the very small toy iron that belonged to Ms. Leyva’s mother and that now sits on a desk in the foyer, near a faceless ceramic doll from the Dominican Republic.

“That iron has been with me for good,” Ms. Leyva said. “My siblings are like, ‘Why does she get to hold it?’”

Matters could go a lot less well for her if not for the Buddha statue on the windowsill, and the luck-carrying elephant collectible figurines positioned in this article and there.

And absolutely it would not be quite as pleasant for Ms. Leyva to sit at her desk in the far corner of the dwelling home if she could not turn a little to the ideal and see the plaques honoring her social activism and philanthropy, or if she couldn’t gaze a bit remaining and beam at that photograph of herself with Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

“I was asked to go to a luncheon at which they were honoring her in the Bronx,” Ms. Leyva stated. “I was so anxious to meet her, but also so influenced: This is an additional Latina! From the Bronx!”

She surveyed her apartment. “To me this is …”

She struggled to find the terms. “I however stroll all over and consider of that minor girl who looked at these structures and puzzled what it would be like to dwell in just one of them. I’m like, ‘I did this on my possess.’ It tends to make me experience I have arrive so far.”

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