"Will and Grace" Tackles Immigration with Chicago Native Yelyna de Leon
Actress and Chicago native Yelyna de Leon landed a remarkable guest spot as Blanca in season two’s Tex and the City of NBC’s Emmy award-winning sitcom “Will and Grace”. The character’s remarkable journey and presence allows us to see a special bond and transformation between her and Karen Walker (Emmy award-winner Megan Mullally) where drama and comedy merge into one, addressing one of the nation’s leading issues - immigration.
In Texas, Karen arrives to visit the border where she makes remarks about sponsoring the wall and illegal drugs and meets Beverly Leslie (Emmy award-winner Leslie Jordan) whom she argues with over sponsorship of the wall. Both end up in the detention center with Blanca.
Blanca is an undocumented immigrant from El Salvador who gets captured after trying to cross the border. She was a professional in her country and a mom who snuck across the U.S. border fleeing the brutal gangs. She had travelled over 2,000 miles and spent her life savings paying off the cops and hiding from the cartels. In order to save her family, she let her daughter and husband escape first and now she wants to reunite with them. Blanca ends up in a Texas cell with Karen and Beverly Leslie, where she has a chance to share her personal story of grief with Karen and where we, the audience, become first hand witnesses of the humane side of Karen as she shows empathy for Blanca’s deep painful story.
“I have studied law and all I can say is that it is a slippery slope, as the laws affect everyone which is why Karen and Leslie end up in the detention center where I am being held. I am sitting there listening to their conversation but we are all in the holding cell together. Karen is still grieving over Rosario. She is telling me about it and I am there to listen to her story and she is there to listen to mine. There was definitely a bond between me and Karen and we bonded as human beings,” said Yelyna De Leon.
“The writing on the show is truly amazing and so timely. When I read it, and booked it, I was so happy that this was an opportunity to humanize the immigration experience, something we don’t often get to see. This is what is really happening right now, all over the world and I look at it as a forced migration. I also loved that the role of Blanca was completely in line with my purpose, which is to represent the latino community in non-stereotypical roles with counter narrative stories that are relatable and humanize us, so I am very grateful to the show for this amazing opportunity.”
Blanca’s scenes were so touching and very important, and relevant scenes especially with the current political climate. Bravo to NBC and the show’s writers for this heart-wrenching yet funny storyline. But we were left wondering what will become of Blanca? Will Karen help her get out of jail and be reunited with her family? It would be great to see the return of Blanca as the writers have a lot to play with the special bond between Karen and her, especially after Rosario’s death and immigration is a subject that has many stories that need to be told.