An author from Racine was one of the nominees at this past weekend's NAACP Image Awards.
Joanne Ramos was nominated for Outstanding Literary Work Debut Author for her first novel "The Farm." The book drew rave reviews across the world since its release last spring. It did not win at the NAACP Image Awards, but Ramos was thrilled to be included.
"It was really an honor. The NAACP is such an important organization," Ramos said.
"It was being in a room of people of color celebrating. So many greats you know Angela Bassett was there, and Rihanna was there. They had a Tuskegee airman, a 100-year-old gentleman from World War II there. So just to be in that company was incredible," Ramos said when asked about the most memorable part of the experience.
"The Farm" surrounds women paid to live at a luxurious retreat. The catch is they are cut off from their daily lives and act as surrogates carrying babies of the richest people in the world. It centers on an immigrant from the Philippines named Jane who joins the retreat with the hope of a better life.
"It’s a story really about motherhood and maybe the ways that we fail to see each other clearly when we’re looking at people from across divides of economics or race," Ramos explained.
"The book is organic to her as an Asian so it's kind of nice that she's trying to put in our heritage in the best way that she could, even in something like fiction," said Elsa Clemente, Ramos' aunt.
Ramos was born in the Philippines. She was 6 years old when her family moved to Racine. She still has family in Milwaukee and came back for book signings.
"It's an honor and make and it makes us truly truly proud," said Clemente.
Ramos spent years at The Prairie School before heading off to Princeton with the help of financial aid then Wall Street.
Now a successful writer, she believes her Midwest values play a big role in her life.
"A lot of the values that I talk about are ones that I learned from my family in Racine and my community in Racine and my larger family in Milwaukee at my aunties and uncles. It's hard to encapsulate how much that affected the writing of the farm," said Ramos.
Her advice for aspiring writers--keep writing.
"I wrote every day Monday to Friday while my kids were at school. Terrible stuff. I had no idea for the book yet, but it's practice before it's art so just keep at it," said Ramos.
As Ramos continues to work on her second book, she says there is talk about turning "The Farm" into a television show. She says it is important to her and the production company to include Filipino actors and writers.