There are times in which we come across people who are truly inspiring. We see them overcome the toughest adversities only to come out victorious. Recently, I met the best example of that: Daniela Pierre Bravo.
Daniela co-wrote the book Earn It!: Know Your Value and Grow Your Career, in Your 20s and Beyond ($15) along with New York Times bestselling author and Morning Joe host Mika Brzezinski, which provides a no-holds-barred, step-by-step career guide for women in their twenties and thirties. Daniela and Mika discuss the hurdles they had to overcome starting out, and for Daniela, as a minority.
They offer concrete advice on how to own your presence and your voice, exert confidence and self-assurance without being mistaken for "arrogant" or "entitled," read your audience, and discover how to apply that information to your advantage. They include valuable strategies on how to interview well, negotiate a raise, determine your purpose, advocate for more responsibility, and move forward lucratively.
You might be thinking, what makes Daniela an expert on the matter? She's a 28-year-old DACA recipient/DREAMer who struggled to pay her way through college while working undocumented in whatever jobs would pay her cash, who then went on to become a producer at MSNBC. She's hustled hard and made it happen, and now she's sharing her story with us
Born and raised in Chile, Daniela grew up in Santiago, and when she was 11 her family took her on a journey that would change her life forever. They moved to Lima, Ohio — which you may know from the TV show Glee. There, she was the only Latina in her high school that she knew of.
"For a long time, I almost felt like I was guilty of putting some of my roots aside — not because that was my plan intentionally, but because when you grow up in a culture that's not your own, you try to assimilate as much as possible to not feel like you're outside of that group," Daniela told POPSUGAR.
Eventually, she learned the language and assimilated to the culture, exceeding expectations academically, and really jumping over any bump along the way, until it was time for her to go to college. "Going into college I found out that I was undocumented. So, I'm a DACA recipient," Daniela said.
"Back then, the community of DACA recipients was nonexistent. I would go on online boards, desperate to find a community and people to share my experience with, because it was a very alienating, lonely place, especially when you're in middle America and you don't have people, even Latinos, to share the experience with," she added.
Daniela quickly realized that being undocumented meant she couldn't get an ID, travel, drive, work, ask for loans, and more, so she had her hands tied. "I was in the shadows back then," she remembered. "It was humiliating to me to tell anybody about my situation, especially because you didn't know anybody else going through something remotely similar. You were like an alien, for lack of better words."
Still, she put her best foot forward, applied to Miami University in Ohio, got a small scholarship for underrepresented minorities, and took it one day at a time between working side jobs that paid cash, scouring the internet for private scholarships, and entering creative writing contests. She would take semesters off here and there to be able to save enough money to pay, and in the end, she graduated debt-free. Now that she had a degree, she needed professional experience.
With a minor in marketing, she figured that NYC would be the best place to make connections, get professional mentors, and access to the entertainment industry. So, she applied to unpaid internships, which were a thing back in the day. "I started thinking about it creatively, like applying to MTV, but going to their ad sales department," Daniela added. "That's not a very sexy part of the business, but I was there. And then, I decided to apply to these boutique marketing and PR agencies."
She got a call from the hiring manager at P Diddy's Bad Boy Entertainment, and they asked her to come in for an interview the next day. Since she was still in Ohio, she had to figure out a way to get to NYC with no access to a car, and not being able to get on a plane. "I ended up looking for the next bus out," Daniela recalled. "And 18 hours later, nine stops into the night, I get to Port Authority. I clean up, and I get to the internship interview."
She got that internship, and the MTV internship, and did everything she could just to be able to eat that Summer from working as a babysitter, pet sitter, dog walker, jobs at bars, club promoting . . . whatever that would pay her cash. Those internships got the ball rolling and led Daniela to become the accomplished woman she is today.
"Here's the thing: it's about finding creative ways," Daniela said about figuring out life's circumstances. "My experience is very unique because I was undocumented for some time, so that's very specific. But the whole message of this is to be able to think beyond your circumstances, your limitations. Because mine were not being able to afford many things financially, not being able to get my foot in the door."
Daniela is leveraging her own experience and providing advice in "Earn It!" with the hopes of helping others in similar predicaments. She wants people, especially Latina women like her, to know their worth and what they bring to the table, and to demand what's right for them. In the meantime, she's doing her part in bringing the voices of marginalized communities forward thanks to her work as a producer for MSNBC's Morning Joe.
"I wanted to shape culture, and give other people opportunities," Daniela said. "Through my hard work and my resilience I was doing the motions, but I didn't know how it was all going to fit together. Now at Morning Joe that's what I do. I book people of color, I book more Latinx on the show, I find voices that are diverse and different to bring to the table, because the whole thing about Morning Joe is having a dinner-like conversation. And now with the book, it's like giving a guide to the next generation. Not only to Gen Zs and millennials, but to Latinas, and people who feel like they're looking in from the outside."