HOLA! Recently revealed, Naz Perez made our 2022 100 Latina Powerhouse list. The Live From E! Host, Rotten Tomatoes and Fandango Correspondent, Co-Host of the I Don’t Get It Podcast, and Founder of Heart Broken anonymous™ is an unstoppable force with dreams of becoming one of the best interviewers in the world. We had the opportunity to talk to Perez to learn more about her life and aspirations and it’s clear this is just the beginning for Naz. Read the special interview below.
What does being a Latina Powerhouse mean to you?
I’m Dominican, and I feel like the fierceness and the grace that we behold as Latinas is somewhat unique to our upbringing. Latinas have such a strong will to prove themselves. Most of us didn’t come from a lot and most of us have wanted more or better than what we grew up with. To be a Latina powerhouse is to be strong, confident, ambitious, caring, graceful, nurturing- and sexy! I think we possess and represent a unique skill set, and I just love being a Latina.
Does a specific Latina kinda come to mind?
As someone who loves watching TV- and has made a career out of it- Eva Longoria. Her Gabrielle Solis on Desperate Housewives was so well written, and I hadn’t met that 3D of a Latina character on screen before (that wasn’t surrounded by other Latinx characters). We have novellas, and you know there are always shows that are specifically directed toward our community. But Desperate Housewives was a show with a diverse group of women, including Gabrielle Solis, who to me, was the best character on that show. I loved the way the writers and Eva brought Gabrielle’s Latina-ness to life without throwing it in your face. It was just a part of who she was, it wasn’t the only part of who she was. That made me feel really seen, in more ways than I can count, and the fact that Eva Longoria brought that character to life and continues to champion Latinx stories and produce Latinx content and just do so much more for the world, aside from even just the Latinx community...she is who comes to mind for me when I think of a Latina powerhouse. She’s just so cool and I would love to work with her one day.
Tell me a little bit about your upbringing and how you got here
I was born in Houston, Texas, but both of my parents are Dominican and were born in DR. We moved to South Florida because my dad was in the Coast Guard, so I grew up in South Florida, and I grew up very Catholic (as many of us have). I was an altar server, and my parents are very, very religious to the point where they named me after Jesus of Nazareth. So my first name is Jacqueline, which is actually my mom’s name, and my middle name is Nazareth. I always joke with people that I’m the second coming of Jesus and that Jesus is a Latina (laughs). But because Nazareth was my middle name, I’ve always gone by Naz. We lived in Boca Raton, which is a very affluent community, but I would say my younger brother and I grew up middle-class.
You know that saying ‘the poorest family in the richest neighborhood?’ That’s how I felt growing up in Boca Raton, and I think that that helped shape me in more ways than I could realize. I started to take on certain narratives and beliefs about myself because of that. My parents worked so hard to give my brother and me the best life that they could. My mother grew up in the countryside of the Dominican Republic in this small town called Canca La Piedra. The Dominican Republic is a very poor country, I think 40% of the population lives in poverty. It’s because of my parents‘ tenacity and hard work that I am where I am today and am able to live out my dream in Hollywood.
So your parents are devout Catholics, your first generation, was there any insecurities or doubts that had to overcome when pursuing this career?
A big doubt I had to overcome when it came to pursuing my career was the actual move out to Los Angeles. My parents didn’t have the means to support me to come out here. and frankly, they didn’t really want me to do it, and to this day don’t like that I live so far from home. I had to overcome wanting to please them and really go for what I wanted. I have definitely been insecure on multiple occasions throughout my career about whether I could sustain a living. Being freelance can be scary at times, and at one point, I was unemployed for a while. I’m ultimately glad I made all the jumps I did, including the big one of moving out here in the first place and continuing to believe in myself because it got me to where I am now!
Another insecurity I’ve had pursuing this career as a Latina is my family often asks me if I would like to present on television in Spanish. The truth is, my Spanish is more Spanglish, and sometimes that’s made me really insecure within my own community. There are times that I’ve felt that I might not be taken seriously as a Latina for this reason, but that’s my own stuff to process internally... I remember reading that Selena also spoke “Spanglish” and I thought ‘Oh, that’s me!!’ I’m sure a lot of first-generation Latinas deal with this, where we strongly identify with the American side of us, but are constantly trying to not forget our roots and carry our traditions forward, and be proud of who we are and where we came from. We can be and are both, but do people see me as such? I also recognize that I have white privilege and I feel like there are a lot of layers to that too.
So you are the founder of Heartbroken anonymous™ . How did that get started? Was it one specific heartbreak or a loss?
So I was working on The Bachelor, and I was interviewing people about love and heartbreak on the show. And I had never really been through heartbreak myself in the way that most people feel that or go through that in their teenage years. And so I was like 26 and a late bloomer. And I had never really been in a real long-term relationship. So when I left The Bachelor, I started dating someone for six months and really was at a point in my life where I didn’t really love myself, and I had quit The Bachelor on my own accord, which was a really hard decision because my parents were struggling financially. And that was a really, really financially lucrative gig that I had, especially at that age. So I remember quitting and my parents were struggling, and I was kind of like, Did I make the right decision?
I just wanna follow my dream. I wanna be a TV host because I moved out here to be a host. That’s what I majored in, in college. But I sort of just started producing cuz I love producing. And those were easier gigs to get and I was really good at it. But eventually, I was like, I wanna be a host. And so when I left The Bachelor, I was unemployed, started seeing someone for six months, kind of put all my happiness in that basket. So when that was ripped away from me, when that ended, I sort of fell into this acute depression in a way where I was unemployed and I was relying on this person for my happiness. And I was very lost, and I started to wanna go to therapy, which isn’t something that, you know, Latinx people aren’t really accustomed to or introduced to in their formative years.
And then I realized that therapy was like $175, $200 a session. And I was like, I don’t know many people that have $800 a month to feel better. And so I was just going when I could afford it when in retrospect I wish I could have gone every week. So I started doing research online and googled ‘how can I make this feeling go away?’ I hated how I was feeling. And I came across this research that said the same part of your brain that lights up when you’re going through physical pain is the same part of your brain that lights up when you’re going through emotional pain. So going through a breakup can literally feel like someone punching you in the stomach, like, this feels physical.
So I was like, there has to be somewhere to go. There has to be an affordable place people can go to feel relief because I believe that we as humans just wanna feel relief. We just wanna feel better, we wanna feel seen. And so long story long, I created my own support group called Heart Broken anonymous™ ™ which in no way is meant to be a substitute for therapy, but more so an additional resource to people going through any kind of heartbreak. Because the way we think about heartbreak is normally in a romantic container, like a divorce or a breakup. But heartbreak is really anything, a miscarriage, getting in a fight with your mom, losing a family member, a pet, losing your job. So I was like, wouldn’t it be cool if there was this way everybody could come together and sort of share stories and remind each other that they’re not alone? And so that is why in 2017, I founded Heart Broken anonymous™and it’s still going. Check out our website www.heartbrokenanonymous.com for upcoming meetings if you’d like to join one.
What is your favorite memory of interviewing celebrities?
I think my magnum opus (as of now) is my interview with The cast of The Batman. Batman is such a legendary character that’s been around for 80 years. And I got to sit down with the cast before anyone else did in person, not over Zoom, for about 20 minutes for Fandango. That was my first time doing a longer sit-down interview with a group of five or more people, which is kind of hard to do. And as someone who loves movies and loves Batman, I wanted to curate and create a conversation that would appeal to people who have been fans of Batman for a long time. But at the same time, also tailor to people who were just excited to see Zoe Kravitz as Catwoman. My goal is to make sure that anything I do is inclusive to all audiences, and I feel like I rode that line pretty well. That’s when I feel most in flow and connected to source energy.
Your favorite Red Carpet interview?
My favorite red carpet interview was yelling a question out to Lizzo at the Met Gala, who was in the middle of the red carpet. I like to really get in the world of whoever it is I’m speaking to so that people can get to know them better. And I remember I was flying to New York to get ready for Met Gala, and I was listening to Lizzo’s album, and she sings the infamous lyric, “Why Men Great Till They Gotta Be Great.” And I remember just playing that song over and over again and then realizing that Lizzo now had a boyfriend. So I was like, oh, here’s this person that so many people listen to when they’re going through heartbreak or so many people gravitate towards when they wanna feel confident, whether it’s on the way to a job interview or on the way to a first date. And here she is in a beautiful relationship now! And so I saw her on the carpet and I didn’t know if she was gonna stop or not, but I just yelled out to see if she would hear me because the Met Gala carpet is the hardest out of any red carpet to do because the carpet is a flight of stairs. And so I yelled, ‘Lizzo, you once said, why men great till they gotta be great, but now you have a great man. What do you have to say to people who are still looking for theirs?’ Because my goal, as always, is to make people feel seen and be inclusive, and I’ve been single most of my life, and she was like, ‘Don’t make me cry at the Met Gala.’ And then she just screamed from the middle of the carpet like, ‘Love Yourself First B***H.’
It was so so poignant and funny and so Lizzo, and it was such a real moment that I didn’t know I was gonna get. But those are moments where I feel most Naz when I feel like I got an answer that’ll resonate.
What are some goals you’re manifesting for 2023?
I would love for Heart Broken Anonymous™ to be available worldwide. So whether that means it becomes a nonprofit or just expands, in general, is a big dream of mine. I would love to also have my own interview show. I want to be one of the best interviewers in the world... and aside from that being more resolved, in the now, in the present moment, in the journey because it’s really all we have. As Abraham Hicks once said, “If the journey is your goal, then you’re having instant success.”