AAPI Heritage Month Q&A Series: Audrey Menezes
AAPI Heritage Month commemorates Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders that have contributed to America’s rich history and success. Growing up as an Asian American/Pacific Islander can be considered a collective experience that can impact each an every one of us in a variety of ways. Our cultural identity shapes a facet of who we are and I am happy to be featuring a variety of strong voices that will share their experience as an Asian American/Pacific Islander in America. I hope that this series helps you connect with your own heritage and reminds you to be proud of where you come from!
Audrey Menezes is one of the gentlest souls on this planet. She is a woman pilot who is breaking barriers in her industry. I am so proud of her and can’t wait to see her become captain one day. Audrey is not only my cousin but a strong woman figure in my life that continues to inspire me on the daily. Keep reading to learn about her experience below!
Q: What ethnicity are you?
Q: Do you speak your language?
I try to, although I wish I knew more. I guess the basics still count!
Q: Were you always proud of your heritage or did you initially reject it?
I was always proud of my heritage. The culture, food and people. It all interested me. Even though I haven’t actually lived in India since I left when I was 4, I try to incorporate my heritage into my life everyday somehow.
Q: When did you begin to truly embrace your heritage and why? to truly embrace your heritage and why?
As I grew older and started understanding a lot of things, it helped me understand my roots and where I came from. I can honestly say that being able to learn to cook Indian food and watching tons of Bollywood movies made me more aware of my heritage. I hope to revisit India and actually eat, sleep and breathe its rich culture one day!
Q: What do you consider to be the best parts of your heritage and culture?
The food is #1, the best part of Indian heritage. Its flavor town!!! There are so many spices and love that go into each and every dish. I never knew what the word patience meant in Indian cooking until I started making it myself. My parents are fantastic Indian chefs and they have inspired me to master their dishes; which I am still in the process of doing.
Q: What was the first experience where you felt that demarcation of being a minority/different?
I think the first instance was when I was a kid. My childhood friend’s brother called me a dot head not realizing it was a racial term.
Q: How did growing up as an Asian American/Pacific Islander affect your relationship with your parents?
It was very difficult growing up as an Asian American. My parents have strong beliefs in traditions so they tried their hardest to stick to them. I had many obstacles trying to have them understand some of the choices I have made because of the Western culture that I have adapted to. Although my parents remain supportive of these choices, I can’t say that they have truly accepted them. Some of these choices are not traditional to them but luckily my parents are willing to give me the space to make them regardless.
Q: Did you have any Asian American/Pacific Islander role models growing up in media (i.e. movies/TV/music/books, etc.)? Did this affect your self-image?
Growing up, I had more American role models if anything. At the time there was no one who introduced me to Asian Americans in media (if there were any of Indian descent at the time). However, when I began becoming more interested in the entertainment industry and YouTube, seeing Asian American actors and actresses creating successful stories for themselves boosted my self-image. It’s helped me create a mentality that anything is possible.
Q: How do you feel about the rise of Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in media today?
I am very proud of all the Asian Americans that have taken the opportunity to share their culture in movies and even on YouTube. A great example is Lily Singh, or iiSuperwomanii. Lily has been an inspiration to all of her subscribers. She first started creating YouTube videos to keep her mind off of her depression not knowing that people all over the world would love her content. I’m so excited that she now has her own late night talk show on NBC!
Q: If you could give your younger self advice regarding growing up Asian American/Pacific Islander, what would it be?
Embrace your roots. Even as a woman and a minority, don’t let it stop you from chasing your dreams. Never let someone tell you that you cant do something. Anything is possible.
Q: How do you connect with your heritage and culture today?
I connect to my heritage through the food, watching Bollywood movies and even attending special celebrations hosted in my local community.
About Audrey Menezes
Audrey Menezes was born in India before immigrating to America. She has accomplished learning to play 7 instruments after having studied music for 12 years. Since then, Audrey went on to study a year of aerospace engineering before discovering her passion for flying and piloting. Audrey became a pilot in 2012 and has been discovering the world ever since. She started her YouTube channel to document her life, entertain and inform others. She hopes to inspire those that have passion and dreams, but remain very hesitant, to take that leap and get out there.
Instagram: @_audtravels_ | YouTube: @Audtravels