Selenis Leyva’s Clean Slate – The New York Times

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Selenis Leyva hardly set foot out of the Bronx till she was recognized at Fiorello H. LaGuardia Substantial Faculty of Audio & Art and Doing Arts on the Higher West Aspect of Manhattan.

“I particularly try to remember walking all over the community around university and questioning what it would be like to reside in one of those higher-rise apartments,” she mentioned. “It was the final desire of this tiny Bronx woman: extremely extravagant, a doorman and everybody going for walks their puppy. It just appeared so glamorous to me.”

Ms. Leyva played the just take-no-prisoners kitchen capo Gloria Mendoza on the Netflix series “Orange Is the New Black,” but her focus has now shifted from the major home to the White Property, thanks to her purpose as the mother of a would-be chief of the absolutely free earth on the new Disney Additionally collection “Diary of a Upcoming President.”

There was a tale heading around LaGuardia that a classmate had lived in one of these “very fancy” sites. Rumor more experienced it that there was an Olympic-measurement swimming pool suitable on the extravagant-place premises. “Can you envision? Right in your setting up,” claimed Ms. Leyva, who is also the author, with her transgender sister, Marizol Leyva, of the memoir “My Sister: How 1 Sibling’s Changeover Transformed Us Both equally,” because of out March 24.

Ms. Leyva no for a longer time has to think about these types of chlorinated splendor. For the final two many years, she and her daughter, Alina, 17, together with the family canine and cat, have lived in a two-bedroom condominium in a large-increase rental not also incredibly much from LaGuardia High University. A lap pool is part of the package, not to point out a rock-climbing wall, a basketball court and a bowling alley.

“It feels like living in a lodge,” Ms. Leyva explained.



Profession: Actor

Mirror, mirror on the wall: “I have a complete-duration mirror that I connect with the fantasy mirror. It would make you glimpse thinner. When you experience poor about on your own, you can stand in front of it and you are going to glance incredible. And then you are going to carry that feeling out into the genuine entire world.”


But you just can’t have everything, even when you’re dwelling superior. Ms. Leyva has firsthand knowledge of this. A number of years back, all through a stint in Riverdale — “which is even now the Bronx, a little fancier, but even now the Bronx” — she lived in a penthouse with a substantial kitchen, an expansive terrace and a great perspective.

Her initially night time in home, Ms. Leyva turned on the lights in the kitchen area and observed cockroaches by the score. “It was the grossest thing,” she claimed. “I cried and stayed up all evening with the lights on. I experienced to get the dishwasher taken out in purchase to get rid of them.”

The incident left its mark. Ahead of shifting into the setting up on the Higher West Side, Ms. Leyva petitioned the tremendous and the administration business to permit her go into the condominium late at evening and flick the lights on and off a few moments to make certain she experienced no freeloading roommates.

“They ended up like, ‘No, you can not do that,’” she said. “But when I moved in, almost everything was good.”

It even now is. Ms. Leyva used the go to the Lincoln Square neighborhood as a prospect to wipe the slate clear. “I was capable to get rid of loads of furnishings that had the electricity of particular other instances of my everyday living,” she said. “When I was married, I lived with an individual who loved a great deal of coloration. The area was fast paced and eccentric. Now that I have my very own area, I have precisely what I want: white walls.”

Basically, Ms. Leyva desired — and got — very a great deal white all the things: a white sectional to swap an Ikea futon (“My daughter made enjoyable of me about the futon” she stated) white dining area chairs a white desk chair a white accent chair topped with a white pillow a white bureau a white rug. (A black storage device beneath the television gives distinction the pops of color occur by way of an summary painting.)

“I wished something effortless on the eye,” Ms. Leyva claimed. “My mother promises I received white furnishings so no a person would want to pay a visit to. But I like guests.”

There’s a nod listed here to Hollywood Regency, courtesy of the modern bar cart and the abundance of glass and chrome, leather-based and fake fur, geometric shapes and shiny, reflective surfaces.

Ms. Leyva insists that she is no enthusiast of litter. Even now, it wouldn’t actually come to feel like residence devoid of the a lot of photos of her loved ones, such as just one of her going for walks the purple carpet with her daughter at a Screen Actors Guild Awards ceremony. And possibilities are existence would be a little bit much less sweet with no the little toy iron that belonged to Ms. Leyva’s mom and that now sits on a desk in the foyer, in close proximity to a faceless ceramic doll from the Dominican Republic.

“That iron has been with me permanently,” Ms. Leyva said. “My siblings are like, ‘Why does she get to maintain it?’”

Factors may possibly go significantly less well for her if not for the Buddha statue on the windowsill, and the luck-carrying elephant figurines positioned here and there.

And certainly it wouldn’t be fairly as enjoyable for Ms. Leyva to sit at her desk in the significantly corner of the living area if she couldn’t flip marginally to the right and see the plaques honoring her social activism and philanthropy, or if she couldn’t gaze a bit still left and beam at that photo of herself with Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

“I was requested to go to a luncheon at which they were honoring her in the Bronx,” Ms. Leyva said. “I was so nervous to fulfill her, but also so inspired: This is another Latina! From the Bronx!”

She surveyed her apartment. “To me this is …”

She struggled to discover the words. “I still wander about and imagine of that little female who looked at individuals buildings and questioned what it would be like to are living in a single of them. I’m like, ‘I did this on my very own.’ It will make me truly feel I have arrive so significantly.”

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