Dafne Keen in The Acolyte
Alicia Civita

MIAMI - It tends to frustrate actress Dafne Keen when people don't believe that she speaks perfect Spanish. "It makes me angry. I am from Spain, I grew up there," she told The Latin Times, during a visit to Miami to promote her first foray into the galaxy far, far away. The confusion is understandable. At 19 years old, she is one of the new wave of Hispanic actors coming up in Hollywood. However, her last name and accent can be disorienting. She is the daughter of British actor Will Keen. Her mom is from Spain, and she grew up in Madrid.

Her newest role, "The Acolyte," a series set in the "Star Wars" production, was released this week in Disney+, and she has been promoting the show to the Latino audience in the United States, a community she passionately embraces. "I love Latin culture. I am Hispanic," she said in Miami.

"I am very excited to join this community," she says, expressing her hope to have the opportunity to enjoy some salsa music, one of her favorite plans.

Dafne Keen in The Acolyte

Like her character in "The Acolyte," Jecki Lon, Keen is of two cultures, that of the United Kingdom and of Spain, having a British father and a Spanish mother. Set in the era of 'The High Republic' and a hundred years before Star Wars 'Episode One' of the film saga, Keen plays a Jedi student who is half-human and half-Theelin.

"When you're born into a multicultural family or one that speaks multiple languages, you learn how to adapt to different social codes. And I tried to portray that experience in her, complementing the impression given by her appearance," Keen explains.

She also infused her character with the ability to adapt biculturally, "highlighting how her behavior changes depending on the status of the other Jedi. She doesn't act the same with her master, Sol (Lee Jung-jae from Netflix's'Squid Game'), as she does with her peers or the leader of the Jedi in that era," she explains.

Keen's demonstrates her incredible ability to blend in despite being in elaborate makeup that includes a yellow wig reminiscent of David Bowie and three horns, along with orange spots on both temples. Yet, Keen's playful and low-key portrayal makes her both unforgettable and a seamless part of a cast that includes Carrie-Ann Moss (The Matrix) and lead actress Amandla Stenberg (The Hunger Games).

Fighting to be seen as Hispanic

In Hollywood, Keen has succeeded to the point where she struggles to convince executives and fans of her original language and culture.

"In my career, especially during the first eight years, people didn't know I was Spanish, and I had to work hard to embrace that identity," she revealed. This confusion is understandable given her young and successful career. Her first role was in 2014, starring alongside her father in the TV series 'Refugiados,' a Spanish-British co-production filmed in English.

Her breakout role came as Laura, the child clone of 'Wolverine,' in 'Logan' (2017), the last film of the saga starring Hugh Jackman. She then starred in the successful series 'His Dark Materials' (2019-2020), based on the books by Philip Pullman, among other works.

Now, Keen is eager to be seen as a Spanish actress and to represent the Spanish-speaking world because "that's who I am."

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