Finding A Home Within: Actress Santana Dempsey On Acceptance
There was no profession better fitting for Santana Dempsey than being an actor. Born in Dallas, Texas, Dempsey was raised in the foster care system with her biological sister. She never knew her Afro-Latino father. Her white, strawberry blonde mother often disappeared for days and entertained a revolving door of men, eventually leading to an early death by suicide. Dempsey spent her early childhood with two white foster parents who held disdain for her “difficult” mixed-hair and brown skin. As a result, she often went inside herself to find refuge.
Dempsey and her biological sister were eventually adopted by a loving family, but she still lived with the thought that her own family never wanted her. She funneled this emotion into the theater, where she thrived.
After graduating from the University of Missouri in Columbia with a degree in Theater, Dempsey moved to New York City and instantly fell in love with the atmosphere and diversity. The theater world was kind to her, but eventually, a move to Los Angeles was on the horizon.
The struggle for identity and belonging followed her to Los Angeles. “Having indigenous features is still looked down upon in this industry. I’m defined as not being Latina enough, not being white enough, and not being black enough. I'm just never enough.”
Still, Dempsey has found success with roles in the indie feature Lowlife and Netflix's Dear White People. She also helmed a short story that was recently published in the collective narrative, The Beiging of America.
After all the hardships of her early life, we asked Dempsey how she’s attained success and acceptance with herself. “Being completely comfortable with who you are is the key to success. I work on it every day. The minute that you can do that with no apologies you’re successful. After that, everything will keep falling into place.”
We can't wait to see where Dempsey's journey takes her and the incredible career she has ahead of her. Keep up with Santana on Instagram & check out the Chicago premiere for Lowlife, Saturday, November 4th at the Music Box Theater.