Entertainment

Jackie Cruz Is Working To Diversify Hollywood With Her Own Production Company

Jackie Cruz and Spotify are using music to highlight the need for more diversity in Hollywood. The ‘Orange Is The New Black’ actor and singer has teamed up with the music streaming company to bring attention to this issue. As someone who grew up without representation in media, Cruz understands the importance of getting more people in front and behind the camera to tell stories that will resonate with diverse audiences. That’s why she is advocating for more inclusivity in Hollywood and even started to create her own production company to achieve that goal.

Jackie Cruz wants to bring attention to the lack of true inclusion and diversity in Hollywood, and Spotify is helping her with that cause.

Curated R @watusei @326gallery ? @bajaeast ? @elenamiglino

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Cruz says that what Hollywood lacks most is opportunities for people with brown skin because right now it’s “very black and white.” Cruz believes that it is important for Hollywood to start thinking outside the box in terms of representation and search out stories encompassing Latinx, Middle Eastern and Asian stories.

“There are all types of people in the world and we don’t all look the same, so we all deserve representation,” Cruz says.

“I felt like the first time I was represented was Flaca,” Cruz says about her OITNB character.

The Netflix show “Master of None,” created and starring Indian-American comedian/actor Aziz Ansari, also gave Cruz a chance to see her own experience mirrored. Particularly when the show delved into the immigration story of the Ansari’s character’s parents.

“I felt represented recently when watching ‘Master Of None,'” Cruz says. “He’s a first generation American just like me but his parents have an accent. They’re not from here and they still have their culture, just like me being Dominican.”

The lack of opportunities for brown-skinned people is what Cruz credits for the division amongst Latinx people in Hollywood.

“Everyone wants that one Latino role that all of us audition for and only one of us gets,” Cruz explains. “Instead of complaining about it, do something about it.”

Cruz encourages people to use their own platforms to create content that resonates with other brown people.

Las muertas no hablan, the Dead don't talk @dianeguerrero_ #PaolaBacho #Novela #Laursurpadora

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“You have a platform and you have a power to create your own work and your own content. That’s what I’m doing,” Cruz says. “I’m not just going to sit and complain about Hollywood. I’m just going to continue to give myself opportunities and the people around me opportunities that are just like me.”

One way Cruz is taking her fight to increase diversity in media to the next level is by creating her own production company called Unspoken Film.

The mission of Unspoken Film is simple: Pushing for equality and giving opportunities to women in Hollywood.

“It’s not about just acting. It’s the people behind it – the writers – who it all comes from,” says Cruz. “That’s why I’m looking for incredible women writers to get in a room to create some powerful stuff, break barriers, and to, honestly, create opportunities so there’s no more division and we’re all unified.”

Inclusion, and an excited audience, are why Cruz says OITNB has been so successful.

“‘Orange Is The New Black’ is popular because of our audience,” Cruz says. “We’re popular because people are connecting with us because they are seeing themselves on television, whether it’s for the first time or not. That’s why we’re popular. We need more shows like ‘Orange Is The New Black.'”

“I’m working really hard and I’m feeling like I have more power than I even know,” Cruz says.

Cruz wants people to understand that they have the power to create the kind of content they want to see. You don’t have to wait for the opportunity to come around when you can create it yourself.

“That’s the future goal: to just create content and work with my fellow actors who are willing to trust me in my vision,” Cruz says. “But it’s not about me. The whole thing is about opening doors for others that are more diverse.”

More representation, according to Cruz, will inspire future generations by giving them an example of what they can be.

Having grown up without seeing representation on screen, Cruz felt like she could never achieve her dreams. After all, it’s difficult to see yourself succeeding in your dream if you’ve never seen someone like you fulfilling that role. Whether they want to act or be a doctor, representation is vital for youth.

“That’s what’s going to inspire our youth to be the best they can be and to know that they can be whatever they want to be because they’re watching it,” Cruz says. “They’re visualizing it because we’re showing them. I wish I had that. I didn’t have that but I want to create a lane where there is that.”

Now that she is an actor and role model to Latina girls, Cruz wants to use her platform to encourage them to be themselves.

Cinco on Cinco ?? #cincodemayo

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After recently posting a video online, one of her followers commented “You inspire me to be myself.” That left a huge impression on Cruz, who herself struggled to embrace herself. However, the moment she did, “everything changed.” Now she wants others to feel that sense of empowerment.

“That’s what I want to tell the audience; be yourself,” Cruz adds. “It’s important to be unique and be yourself. I’m not going to sit here and say I wasn’t a follower because I was in high school. But the moment I started being myself, that’s when it started happening for me.”

You can check out Jackie Cruz’ playlist below.


READ: Jackie Cruz Has Decided She’s Now Going After The White Girl Roles

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Oscar Isaac Will Be Marvel’s First Live-Action Latino Superhero on Disney Plus

Entertainment

Oscar Isaac Will Be Marvel’s First Live-Action Latino Superhero on Disney Plus

Photo: Roy Rochlin/WireImage

On Monday, it was announced that 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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It’s Finally Justina Machado’s Time to Shine

Entertainment

It’s Finally Justina Machado’s Time to Shine

Photo: Getty Images

On Monday, beloved (and not to mention, underrated) actress Justina Machado sat down for a wide-ranging interview with the Los Angeles Times.

In it, Machado covers everything from her lengthy career, to the sad state of Latinx representation in Hollywood, to the offensive phone call she had with a tone-deaf TV exec in the ’90s.

Finally, after almost 25 years of hard work in Hollywood, Machado is dominating America’s Monday nights with two high-profile gigs: a spot on “Dancing With the Stars” and the return of “One Day At a Time” to CBS after it was unceremoniously dropped by Netflix.

Naturally, with so much on her plate, the Puerto Rican actress in not only mentally, but physically exhausted. After all, “Dancing With the Stars” is notorious for its grueling practice and shoot schedules. “Every day when I come home, my routine is dunking my feet in [an ice bath],” she told the LA Times. “The first week and a half of rehearsals, forget about it–I was crying.”

But Machado is glad that she took the DWTS opportunity for what it means in terms of Latinx representation on network television.

“The thing about ‘Dancing With the Stars’ is it reaches so many more homes than [‘One Day at a Time’]…,” she told the publication. “I know they’ve had Latinas on the show, but they need a whole lot more. And so I was like, ‘I’m going to do that. I’m going to be that Puerto Rican woman that’s on that show.’”

Throughout the interview, Machado gets candid about what it’s like to be a Latina in the American entertainment industry–which is an unforgiving business.

She described the beginning of her career as plagued by insecurity. Before she began a professional acting career, Machado was convinced she couldn’t make it as an actor because professional acting “wasn’t a part of [her] world.” “Nobody was an actor in Chicago that I knew, in my neighborhood, in the inner city of Chicago,” she explained.

After she finally established her footing in Hollywood, she was then met with further doors slammed in her face in the form of racism and anti-Latino sentiment.

Like when an executive called her to tell her why her TV show wasn’t moving forward, back in the ’90s.

“He literally called my house, nice man… and said, ‘My God, your pilot is so great. Everybody loves you, everybody. But we don’t think America is ready for a Latino family.’”

What’s depressing about this story is that Latino representation onscreen still hasn’t gotten much better over 20 years later. But Machado is hopeful that the tides of change are turning

“That was acceptable for him to say…Like, what? And that was the ’90s! And look at today. How many Latino families do you see on television? So America better get ready because we’re here. We’re here.” We know that if Machado has anything to do with the future of TV, we’ll be seeing Latino families more and more often.

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