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S.H.E Is: Juana Inés de la Cruz

By Eleanora Morrison

There are seasons in each of our lives that cause us to question our greater purpose on Earth. For those who choose to answer a calling and pursue a life in alignment with their inner whispers, something about their auras are enviable from the outside looking in. From the inside looking out, however, nothing is ever as easy as it appears, and the pursuit of a vocation–no matter the form–always comes with sacrifice.

The human existence is comprised of a series of universally shared challenges, and history presents itself in cyclical repetition, for better or for worse.  One of the greater mysteries that our modern society appears to grapple with most (so much so that it has informed the undercurrent of our culture of perfectionism and achievement), is the path to becoming successful. Oftentimes, society’s definition of success is out of alignment with our greatest truths, and who we really are.

It takes extreme discipline, self-belief, and steadfast dedication to work toward an existence that leaves a legacy to stand the test of time, and uncharted life paths are never for the faint of heart. The story of Juana Inés de la Cruz is one of many, that when transposed over a present-day journey, inspires in a way that is unbound by year or culture. Her story is everyone’s story. Whether we choose to be defined by the challenges and sacrifices of pursuing our own paths, often unseen by the outside world, is up to us.

This is a visual story of the sacrifices that come with following one’s true calling, as told through the life of Juana Inés de la Cruz: a scholar, a writer, a philosopher, a Hieronymite nun, and iconic thought leader of women’s empowerment in Baroque era Mexico (New Spain).

Sor. Juana Inés:

November 12, 1648–April 17, 1695

The freedom of youth, and the interest in all things greater. A wandering mind and an open heart. The tender curiosities of a child, before the worries of the world are discovered.


The moment of epiphany that empowers the pursuit of a vocation.


The quiet fear that comes with stepping into the unknown.


Believing in a life of freedom and creation, and persisting anyway, even if the journey means living in solitude.


The gaining of experience and confidence in one’s path.


Surrendering to the call. Pouring all efforts into studying the work of others who came before you, to create revered work of your own.


A shedding of the person you once were, and the way others knew you.


The ceremony of stepping into the person you are called to be.


Creating one’s life work in a state of enlightenment, ever-aware of the legacy they will leave for future generations. Honoring the voices of others and representing something much greater than self in effort to make social change, remaining brave in the face of threats and scrutiny.


Enduring devastating trials and personal tragedy when least expected. Caught in life’s fire, a test of will and inner strength.


 The crippling swell of self-doubt in the face of seemingly insurmountable challenge. A chance to crumble in defeat, or a chance to rise to transcendence. A time to make peace with the person you are, despite the challenges and criticisms of the establishment.

See Also

…The choice is yours, and yours alone.

We all have a Phoenix within us. Will you rise from the ashes and seize your greatness?

The Legacy of Juana Inés de la Cruz

If Juana Inés were here in present-day, she would encourage us to fight for what we know to be right and true. She would empower us to use our knowledge to act–not just voice. She would evangelize the importance of self-education, always. She would champion women in the pursuit of any dream, because she dedicated her life to questioning the social confines of her time that practiced suppression of others. Most importantly, Juana would encourage us to lead with our hearts, above all else. She would believe in practicing compassion and empathy in the pursuit of whatever we are called to be. She would praise true substance, critical thinking, and selfless leadership in attempt to impact the world, and would expect that we emulate her ideals, foster human connection and create a legacy defined by honoring nothing other than our deepest personal truths. 

Our Imagery

The imagery for this visual story was captured on a series of vintage film cameras by our Features Art Director, Rahm Carrington. Scanned directly into a digital format from the original negatives, we take pride in the fact that none of the photos taken for this cover feature have been retouched or manipulated in any way.


Creative Director Eleanora Morrison
Executive Producer Melissa Delgadillo
Lead Photographer Rahm Carrington
Lead Stylists Jade DagsaanLisa Weller
Assistant Stylists Erika ValdezLauren AguirreKim Mendez
Cinematographer / Photographer Will Crawford
Cinematographer / Photographer Courtney Weller

Feature Cast

Juana Inés de la Cruz:
Giovanna DiZurita

Location + Props
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