Photo: Roy Rochlin/WireImage
Oscar Isaac was cast in the new Disney+ Marvel TV series “Moon Knight”. According to Variety, “Moon Knight” will tell the story of “an elite soldier and mercenary who decides to fight crime after he becomes the human avatar of Khonshu, the Egyptian god of the moon.”
The news is exciting because it marks the Guatemalan-American actor’s first lead on a TV series and Marvel’s first live-action Latino superhero. In a time when seeing Latinos on TV is rare, this announcement gives us hope that Hollywood is becoming more open to hiring Latinx talent. It is also exciting because this isn’t the first time that Disney+ has hired a Latino actor to spearhead one of its blockbuster shows.
The streaming giant also hired Chilean-American actor Pedro Pascal to be the lead of its extremely successful Star Wars spinoff series “The Mandalorian,” which will be premiering its second season on October 30th. “The Mandalorian” follows a story of a mysterious space bounty hunter who goes on the run with a “child” (i.e. Baby Yoda) he was hired to track down and return to his client.
“The Mandalorian” was a commercial and critical darling. Experts believed it helped launch Disney+ into the competitive streaming market. Experts believe the show was one of the reasons Disney+ amassed 26.5 million subscribers in its first six weeks.
And as Variety so astutely noted, since there will be no new Star Wars movies until at least 2023, Pascal is the current and only face of the Star Wars franchise. The burden is heavy, but Pascal bears it well. And his excellence in the role is further proof that Latinos can and should be starring in more TV shows.
The hiring of Isaac and Pascal as the leads of their two major shows makes Disney+ strides ahead of other networks who won’t take a chance on Latinx talent. The failure of Hollywood to give Latinos a seat at the table has been a hot-button issue of late, with the problem culminating recently in an open letter that 270 Latinx writers recently penned condemning the entertainment industry. The letter noted that Latinos make up 18.3% of the U.S. population, but only 8.7% of TV writers.
The move to cast Isaac after the success of Pascal in “The Mandalorian” might not be coincidental. The two men are famously close and have been best friends for years after meeting in an off-Broadway play at the beginning of their careers. Isaac has been candid about that time in their lives and in the industry at large, telling Variety that back then it was “so easy to be pigeonholed in very specific roles because we’re Latinos.”
“The dream was to be able to pay rent,” Isaac continued. “There wasn’t a strategy. We were just struggling. It was talking about how to do this thing that we both love but seems kind of insurmountable.” The two actors have been friends rather than competitors in a cutthroat industry, so much so that Isaac convinced Pascal to audition for “The Mandalorian” in the first place, as he told Wired.
It’s worth giving Disney+ credit where credit is due. While people like to discount TV shows and movies as if they don’t make a difference, the truth is, it is so fulfilling to see someone who looks like you reflected back to you through your TV screen. Representation matters.
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