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Soy Yo’: A Young Latina’s Debut Anthem of Empowerment

Bomba Est?reo - Soy Yo

Bomba Est?reo - Soy Yo Bomba Est?reo - Soy Yo YouTube

It's already amassed some 1.5 million views on YouTube in less than a week; thanks to one catchy tune, a message of empowerment, and its confident 11-year-old star.

Sarai Gonzalez, of central New Jersey was selected among hundreds of young girls who auditioned at a casting call this summer for Grammy-nominated Colombian band Bomba Estereo's new "Soy Yo," [It's me], music video, earlier this summer.

It's Gonzalez's professional acting debut and her smile, dance moves, and sheer enthusiasm have captivated audiences, both young and old, online with the trending hashtag "#SoyYo."

In the music video the young girl is seen confidently exiting a beauty salon, sporting glasses and 90s-style hair, and then dancing down the streets of Brooklyn; standing up to bullies on the basketball court.

For many on social media, the song and Gonzalez's breakthrough performance is an anthem for Latinas who are coming of age.

Billboard describes the music video's appeal as being a product of a "very confident little girl who is proud of who she is and what makes her unique, despite what other kids or people in her neighborhood might think."

Gonzalez is thrilled with the reception the music video has been garnering online on social media. She believes one of the main reasons the now viral clip is resonating with audiences is because of the authenticity she brings to the role; she was previously bullied at school.

"The message of this video is just to be yourself and not care what anyone else thinks no matter what," Gonzalez said. "I'm proud to be a part of this video because I've overcome bullying."

Her father, Juan Carlos Gonzalez, said that when he learned of the incidents, he spoke to her teacher, eventually putting an end to them. He credits the unfortunate episodes with making his daughter a stronger young girl.

"It helped her with the video because it's something she lived through," he said.

Her father adds, though, that his daughter always had a bubbly and charismatic personality. "Since she was a little, if there was a party she wanted to have a microphone; dancing, singing. God gave her that talent of making people smile," he said.

It was that charisma that made the music video's director Torben Kjelstrup think she was the young girl they were looking for. Bomba Estereo had released the song previously without a music video; it wasn't until this year that the band organized a contest to find a film director with a clever approach. The band chose Denmark-based Kjelstrup's concept and he set out to find his star.

"From the moment I saw her I knew she was perfect for the role," Kjelstrup said. "The way she was standing even while we were prepping the audition felt so relaxed and self-confident that it was hard to ignore."

The idea for the music video's look came from an old 1990s photograph of Kjelstrup's girlfriend. In it his girlfriend had braces and was sporting not-the-most-flattering of track suits, but he said she was still brimming with confidence.

"Sarai really embodies the theme of the song because she is so uniquely her own, " Kjelstrup said.

Gonzalez's father learned of the audition while he was online, Sarai went and got a call back the next day. The music video was then subsequently shot a few weeks later over the course of two long days in Brooklyn, New York.

Her father, who also plays her dad in the music video, said the days were very intense and that she cried the first day from a mix of the arduousness of the shoot and her excitement about the role.

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It's dancing to the beat of your own drum that Gonzalez said is the main message of the music video. To the fans of the music video, she said the main message of "Soy Yo" is to "adore [yourselves], it doesn't matter what other people think."

Edgar Zúñiga Jr. is a producer based in Noticias Telemundo's New York bureau for the network's national-evening newscast, "Noticiero Telemundo." Telemundo is a division of NBCUniversal.

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