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Chicago Native Yelyna De Leon Leon Raises Immigrant Issues as Blanca in “Will and Grace”

 Chicago’s Native Yelyna De Leon landed a remarkable role as Blanca in Episode 3 on NBC’s  Emmy award winning sitcom, “Will and Grace” Second Season. The character’s remarkable journey and presence allows us to see a special bond and transformation between her and Karen (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 US 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 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 scene were so touching and very important, and relevant scenes especially with the current political climate, so bravo to NBC and the show’s writers for this heart wrenching deep 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 future 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.

If you liked Blanca’s character as much as I did on “Will and Grace” please tweet, instagram and shout out on Facebook @nbcwillandgrace.

To follow Yelyna De Leon on Social Media: @yelynadeleon.

Yelyna with Beverly Leslie


Yelyna with Sean Hyes

Yelyna de Leon with Megan Mullally)



About Actress, Writer and Producer Yelyna De Leon:

Born and raised on the southside of Chicago, where she fell in love with storytelling through the theater, Yelyna has been in numerous plays, television shows, “Bones,” “Shameless,” “Ray Donovan,” and the feature films, “A Better Life,” and the GLAAD award winning film “East Side Story,” to name a few. And will soon be seen in the comedies, “Milfriend” and “Bride Plus One.”

She is a “Br-ojan,” having received her BA from UCLA in Film/TV/Theater and Chicano Studies and her MFA from USC in Film and Television production. While at USC, she studied film, TV and comedy with director Barnet Kellman (George Lopez Show, Murphy Brown), writer David Isaacs (Cheers, Madmen), producers Gail Katz (Air Force One,) and Bonnie Bruckheimer, (Hocus Pocus, Beaches) and was the co-creator, head writer and showrunner for USC’s first single camera comedy pilot, “Teacher’s Lounge.

Currently the award winning, slasher feature film she wrote, produced and is in, “Murder in

the Woods,” starring Jose Julian (A Better Life), Chelsea Rendon (Vida) and Catherine Toribio (Jane The Virgin) with Danny Trejo (Machete),  is doing the festival route and garnering

rave reviews and a lot of buzz. The film premiered to a sold out audiences at the 2017 FICG in LA at the Chinese Theater, won the Best Film Award at the 2017 LA Skins Fest, and sold out every screening in Portland, NY, Denver and at the Chicago Latino Film Festival in April of 2018.

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