An analysis of America Ferrera’s talk “My identity is a superpower – not an obstacle” shows that the rhetorical situation is the TED2019 conference, where Ferrera delivers a talk about cultural identity. The conference’s theme is “Bigger Than Us”, and Ferrera’s speech is part of a series of talks that tackle important issues. Since this was a speech that Ferrera delivered at a TED conference, we will be mostly referring to it as a “talk”.
When it comes to composition, America Ferrera mainly includes flashbacks that introduce the more challenging topics of her talk. Her past experiences, for instance, reflect both success and disappointment related to representation and diversity on television.
The style of language is formal. Ferrera uses metaphors and contrasting descriptive adjectives which draw the attention of the audience.
Some of the rhetorical devices used by Ferrera are repetition, humor, anecdotes, and irony. The rhetorical devices reinforce her points, but also draw a reaction from the audience, who gets involved in Ferrera’s story.
The main forms of appeal used in the talk are pathos and ethos. Through ethos, Ferrera uses her authority as an actress and cultural background to express her ideas about cultural diversity and representation in television. She appeals to pathos through personal stories and anecdotes, but also through irony and shared experiences.
You can read a full analysis of the talk in the following pages.