Rosa Salazar

rosa salazar When Rosa Salazar was a little girl living in Mexico City, her father, on a whim, took her to an open audition for a popular television show. Although hundreds of other girls were vying for the part, Rosa advanced through hours of interviews until the choice was to down her and another young actress. But by the final interview, Rosa said she was so exhausted she broke down in tears and asked her dad to take her home. Needless to say, the part went to the other girl.

“There went my chance at artistic stardom,” Salazar laughed recently.

 The young girl who landed the role has gone on to a notable acting career in Mexico. But for Rosa it was not a dream denied, just one delayed as she went on to build a successful career in radio and voice-over work that she is parlaying into an acting career.

School District U-46 became a supportive castmate for Salazar when her family moved to Elgin when she was about nine. When she came to the U.S, Salazar said, she spoke only a little English, so she was placed in bilingual classes at Grant and Centennial elementary schools. But by the time she was a seventh grader at Canton Middle School, her teachers had taught Rosa so well that she was transitioned into an English-only classroom.

After Canton, it was on to Elgin High School.

“I had lots of good teachers that were very supportive,” Salazar recalled of her days at EHS. “They were always pushing us to be better students.”

She fondly recalled Fernando Villeda, who spent a decade at EHS coordinating a program aimed at supporting Latinx students, and Jerry Cook, who later became EHS principal, as a “cool” social studies teacher whose class featured lots of interesting discussions. When she wasn’t in class, Rosa was often in the pool where she competed as a member of the EHS swim team.

Rosa graduated with high honors in 2003, winning a scholarship at Elgin Community College where she earned her associate’s degree. She landed a job doing marketing and public relations work for a Spanish language publication, but Salazar said she gravitated toward radio work.

She started showing up at remote broadcasts and began getting to know people in the field. Those connections helped her land a radio job with Univision and that led to an on-air job with a Spanish language radio station in Milwaukee. Salazar has also reported from the red carpet twice for the Academy Awards, and an interview with actor Lou Diamond Phillips, who noted Rosa’s vivacious personality.

“He told me ‘You ought to be an actor’ and it was genuinely said,” Salazar recalled.

Salazar is now trying to establish an acting career with the same template she used in radio – learning the craft of acting, meeting people in the industry, and making connections that will lead to the next phase of her career. Her confidence is fueled by her religious faith, and what she learned in the classroom.

“We were taught that there was no excuse to not succeed.”