Chris Rivas speaks the truth of ‘growing up Brown in America’ on 'The Man Enough Podcast'

'I wanted to be what I saw'
The Man Enough Podcast
Photo credit The Man Enough Podcast

Actor, author, podcaster, and storyteller, Christopher Rivas, is boldly speaking his truth about his experiences “growing up Brown in America,” and sharing his journey through modern manhood.

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Photo credit The Man Enough Podcast

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Rivas’ struggles, stories and observations are explored deeply in his new book, Brown Enough, which is also the name of his podcast where he explores the same topics. Recently, Christopher took time to join fellow podcasters Justin Baldoni, Liz Plank and Jamey Heath to engage in an honest conversation surrounding racism, masculinity, and what it means to be a man today in America on The Man Enough Podcast.

Exploring everything from representation, machoism, accountability and dating, the crew left no topic off the table as they explored the many different factors of racism. One particularly impactful conversation during their time together though, comes as Rivas opens up about his struggles with body image and his “Brown features,” not being represented in the media.

“I thought all the white boys on TV were cool,” Rivas expressed while sharing he idolized James Bond. “Because if you’re on TV, you’re cool. And I aspire to be on TV, I aspire to have my voice shown. My Dad was a superintendent, I didn’t see superintendents on TV… I wanted to be what I saw. I can’t tell you why I fell in love with [James] Bond, but he’s cool.”

Having a lack of representation in the media led Rivas to attempt to fit the white image as much as possible, sacrificing his “Brownness” in the process. While he shared he now embraces who he is in every way, there was a time he allowed others to tell him what he should look like, including an agent who urged him to get a nose job to better fit a part.

“I had to admit that my self-worth was so low that a white lady could convince me that I needed to be different and how much power I gave her,” he said, admitting he got a nose job to fit the look of a part he wanted. “Which really means how much power I gave the system and media and Hollywood and culture and the desire to be seen. We all want to be seen and loved for who we are.”

Acknowledging and admitting his pain and desire to look different is exactly what it took for Rivas to come into his own and arrive at the beautiful place of meeting the image of himself he experiences today.

“I had to admit that I would look into a mirror as a young kid, crying. I had to admit that I put shaving cream in my hair because I heard a rumor that it would help straighten it,” he stated. “I had to confront why my first white manager told me to cut my beautiful curls as soon as I graduated… I had to admit that the moment she sat me down made me watch all my auditions and told me to get a nose job. I had to admit to myself why I did that, and once I admitted it, I started working more.”

He continued, “I have a lot of gratefulness that I had the strength and the openness to be able to admit it out loud, with others, to talk about it. To now know that when I have a child I can just tell them, ‘You are enough,’ not even ‘you are beautiful’ — every day, ‘You are enough.’”

Hear a lot more about Rivas’ upbringing and how he maintains peace within himself on the latest episode of The Man Enough Podcast. Listen on the free Audacy app here, or on your preferred player here.

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