Entertainment

As Hollywood Grapples With Diversity, Here Are A Few Examples Of Hollywood Whitewashing Latino Roles

Hollywood is doing their best to try to fix the diversity issue plaguing the entertainment industry. However, Latinos are the minority being the most left behind. When Latino roles do becomes available, Hollywood often casts a white non-Latino to play the role. Latinos are the most active moviegoers representing a large number of the movie going population. Latinos represent 24 percent of frequent moviegoers to be exact. Yet, we are securing fewer leading roles than ten years ago.

The problem is even higher reaching than just roles available. Less than five percent of directors and producers are Latino. When you find a Latino producer or director (i.e. Guillermo del Toro or Jennifer Lopez), the representation follows. In the meantime, prepare to feel a renewed sense of grief as you realize that the cult classics of your childhood, or even your favorite new Netflix heartthrob, have been robbing undiscovered Latino of their own acting careers.

Charlie Hunnam as Edgar Valdez Villarreal

Untitled. digital Image. Vanity Fair. 20 September 2018.


Let’s not forget when Legendary Studios announced that British actor Charlie Hunnam would be playing Mexican-American drug lord Villarreal, a.k.a. “La Barbie.” Sure, La Barbie is a light skinned Latino, but he is still a Latino and Legendary can do better at understanding the meaning of ethnicity and cultural identity.

The movie has not been released yet.

Al Pacino as Tony Montana in “Scarface”

Untitled. Digital Image. Latina. 20 September 2018.


For those who haven’t seen the movie, “Scarface” is all about the Cuban migration into Miami and the mob and drug wars that made Miami what it is. Italian Al Pacino rose to fame after landing the role of Cuban drug kingpin Tony Montana. Who knows which Latino could have secured the most iconic mob film fame.

Noah Centineo as Jesus Foster in “The Fosters”

@noahcentineo / Instagram


“The Fosters” is produced by Jennifer Lopez and chock full of Latino characters, but when Puerto Rican actor J.T. Austin quit the show, they replaced him with half Italian half German Noah Centineo.

Cierra Ramirez crushed it as his twin sister, Mariana, and she’ll be co-starring in the spinoff, “Good Trouble.”

Natalie Wood and Richard Beymer as Maria and Tony in “West Side Story”

“West Side Story Natalie Wood Richard Beymer” Digital Image. The Wrap. 20 September 2018.


“West Side Story” is a classic tale featuring the Sharks, a Puerto Rican street gang vs. the Jets, a white street gang of New York. While Rita Moreno earned an Academy Award for the boricua Anita role, they failed to cast Tony and Maria as Latino.

Ben Affleck as Tony Mendez in “Argo”

“Warner Bros. argo” Digital Image. The Wrap. 20 September 2018.


Sorry, buddy, but growing a baby beard don’t make you a Mendez. Just when you started thinking that this is a Hollywood snafu of the past, you should know that this casting happened in 2012.

Cliff Curtis as Emilio Restrepo in “Colombiana”

TriStar Pictures / Via ibrahimfirat.net


Cliff Curtis is literally from New Zealand and openly non-Latino. Curtis is widely sought after for playing Latino roles, and it’s frankly the only ones he’s known for. He even played Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar in “Blow.” Everyone deserves work and that should be the same for actors of color.

Catherine Zeta Jones as Elena Montero in “Zorro”

Untitled. Digital Image. Latina. 20 September 2018.


While Shakira and Salma Hayek were both reportedly considered to play the part of Elena Montero, Zeta-Jones scored two leading roles in “Zorro” and it’s sequel. Plus, this isn’t the first time she’s played a Latina role.

Anthony Hopkins as El Zorro in The Mask of Zorro

“The Mask of Zorro” Digital Image. The Wrap. 20 September 2018.


We loved this movie as children and it pains me how we couldn’t have possibly known better how outrageous this looks to have El Zoro be a white man with a tiny gotee. For those of you who are wondering, Zorro is a Mexican character and therefore should have been played by a Mexican.

Will Ferrell as Armando in “Casa de mi Padre”

“casa de mi padre 1” Digital Image. IFC. 20 September 2018.


Too often, when white people are cast as Latino characters, it’s to make a mockery of the culture and of Latinos as a whole. The majority of the movie is in Spanish and yet, the screenplay was written in English by a white boy. When will Hollywood learn that whitewashing Latino culture just makes it worse, you ask?

Jack Black as Nacho in “Nacho Libre”

Mitchell Wilson / YouTube


This whole movie is a total spoof of Mexican culture, which could have been funny if it was played by someone other than Jack Black. Someone please remake this true story of Fray Tormenta, a Mexican Catholic priest who had a secret, very famous career as a luchador, with a Mexican actor. We can have a good time laughing at a Mexican making fun of Mexican culture just as much, if not more so, than Jack Black.

John Turturro as Jesus Quintana in “The Big Lebowski”

“jesus header” Digital Image. Nerd Bastards. 20 September 2018.


Italian-American John Turturro’s unforgettable role as Cuban-American Jesus Quintana could have belonged to an actual Cuban American. Once again, Hollywood whitewashes everything.

Armand Assante in “Mambo Kings” (1992)

Untitled. Digital Image. Latina. 20 September 2018.


This Hollywood tradition has definitely improved over time but is overall unforgivable. in 1989, Cuban-American author Oscar Hijuelos wrote a Pulitzer Prize winning piece of Latino mythology called “The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love.”

When Hollywood adapted the story into a movie, they gave one of the two main roles to a non-Latino, but at least Spanish actor Antonio Banderas got the second part, who is a little bit closer to Latino in that his country colonized Latin America.

Madonna as Evita

“Evita” Digital Image. The Wrap. 20 September 2018.


As much as we love you, Madonna, you could never fully capture what it was like to be Argentina’s First Lady Eva Perón. She was adored by Argentines of the 1940’s until her tragic death in 1952. Key qualifier to crush the role: be Latina.

Hank Azaria as Agador Spartacus in “The Birdcage”

Untitled. Digital Image. Latina. 20 September 2018.


Hank Azaria earned a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination for his part as a gay Guatemalan housekeeper. Tbh, the role was perfection but having a Latino in the role would add to that authenticity.

Viggo Mortensen as Captain Alatriste in “Alatriste”

“Alatriste.” Digital Image. The Wrap. 20 September 2018.


Based on a series of novels written by Arturo Pérez-Reverte, and even directed by Agustín Díaz Yanes, the leading role went to Danish-American Mortensen. To this date, it is the second most expensive Spanish-language film ever made in Spain.

Lou Diamond Phillips as Ritchie Valens in “La Bamba”

Untitled. Digital Image. Latina. 20 September 2018.


If you’re Mexican, you know who Ritchie Valens is and you know he doesn’t look like this baby John Travolta. Valens created the Chicano rock movement but when Hollywood made the movie of his life, they failed to even cast a Latino to play the Mexican rocker. However, Phillips has played several Latino characters and always treats the roles with respect and that is something to be admired.

Jack Palance as Fidel Castro in “Che”

“Che!” Digital Image. Digital Image. The Wrap. 20 September 2018.


Jack Palance is Ukrainian-American and distinctly not Cuban. Maybe that’s why the film totally flopped? Just guessing over here.

Johnny Depp as Cuban in “Before Night Falls”

“Before Night Falls” Digital Image. The Wrap. 20 September 2018.


Cuban poet Reinaldo Arenas’ memoir “Before Night Falls” is the heart-wrenching story of what it was like to be openly gay in Cuba under Communism, and be diagnosed with AIDS. Arenas committed suicide shortly after publishing his work.

Johnny Depp played his part.

Ethan Hawke as Nando Parrado in “Alive”

“Alive” Digital Image. The Wrap. 20 September 2018.


The fact that Ethan Hawke was cast to play a Latino would be funny if it didn’t tragically reinforce the white savior narrative we see too often. Nando Parrado was one of sixteen survivors of a Uruguayan airplane crash in the Andes mountains.

He was on his way to business school when he was traumatically forced to survive in the Andes for 72 days. His life was never the same, but he was certainly the hero that kept who he could alive.

Meryl Streep as Clara del Valle in “House of Spirits”

Anja W / Pinterest

Oh, Meryl. If you were Chilean, we’d already have you sanctified, but you’re not. Neither was Glen Close or Winona Ryder when they were cast to play the roles based off Isabel Allende’s novel “La Casa de los Espíritus.”


READ: Food And Wine Learned A Valuable Lesson About Respecting The Cultures Of Foods They Are Covering After This Concha Fiasco

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After 17 Seasons “Grey’s Anatomy” Has Finally Cast Its First Indigenous Doctor

Entertainment

After 17 Seasons “Grey’s Anatomy” Has Finally Cast Its First Indigenous Doctor

Courtesy of ABC

Just when you thought “Grey’s Anatomy” had literally done every storyline in the book, they turn around and surprise you. And this time, “Grey”‘s is bringing some good news.

Now, in 2021, after 17 seasons, “Grey’s Anatomy” is finally featuring its first indigenous doctor, Dr. James Chee, played by actor Robert I Mesa.

Robert I Mesa is an actor of Navajo and Soboba descent. According to an online biography, Mesa is self-taught photographer, filmmaker and actor working in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Mesa took to Instagram to celebrate the good news about being the first indigenous doctor on “Grey’s”.

“I’m so excited and honored to be the first indigenous doctor on Grey’s Anatomy,” he wrote. “James Chee will be back on April 15, so be sure to tune in…Thank you so much To Grey’s Anatomy! I know this is going to mean so much to my indigenous peoples.” He ended the caption with “it’s a good day to be indigenous”

Although now Mesa is now on one of the biggest shows on TV, he is still a relative newcomer to showbiz and “Grey’s” will be his first major role after appearing on episode three of this season.

“Grey’s Anatomy” has always prided itself in hiring diverse actors to fill its cast.

In fact, when “Grey’s” creator Shonda Rhimes first created the show in 20–, she instructed her casting director to bring in actors of all races to audition. “The script was written with no character descriptions, no clue as to what anyone should look like,” she told Oprah in 2006.

“We read every color actor for every single part. My goal was simply to cast the best actors. I was lucky because the network said, ‘Go for it.'”

Those directions led to one of the most culturally and racially diverse casts in TV history. And it also changed the television landscape forever.

“When they had me come in to read for the role of chief of surgery, I hadn’t seen an African American in that kind of role before,” James Pickens Jr, who plays Dr. Richard Webber, said to The Hollywood Reporter.

He continued: “Shonda always wanted to make sure that the show impacted the landscape in a way that we hadn’t seen before on TV. I like to think that Grey’s had a big part in how the industry casts shows.”

“Grey’s Anatomy” has paved the way for other racially-diverse Shondaland shows like “How to Get Away With Murder”, “Scandal”, “Station 19”, and most recently, “Bridgerton.”

We’re glad that an iconic television staple like “Grey’s Anatomy” is finally expanding its diverse cast to include its first indigenous doctor.

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Latinos Are Taking Their Place In The Director’s Chair And These Are The Ones You Need To Look Out For

Entertainment

Latinos Are Taking Their Place In The Director’s Chair And These Are The Ones You Need To Look Out For

Unless you live under a rock, you probably know that the movie biz is run by white folks. Yes, it sucks, but the good news is there are some truly kickass people of color out there paving the way for the rest of us.

It’s old news that Hollywood has a huge diversity problem (#Oscarsowhite, anybody?). Even beyond the Academy Awards, this year’s Cannes Film Festival left a LOT to be desired when it came to Latino representation.

But, thankfully, that is beginning to change and more and more directors claim their spot in the directors chair and we are so grateful for the representiaon they’re bringing younger audiences because representation matters.

Moreover, many Latin-American directors particularly are seeing success both with critics and at the box office with such movies as Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity and Alejandro González Iñárritu’s The Revenant dominating the box office while also taking home numerous awards. Here are some of our favorite directors and a few lesser-known ones that you should add to your watch lists.

Adrian Molina

Adrian Molina has a breadth of experience under his belt, particularly in animation. He’s worked at Pixar Animation Studios on Toy Story 3 and in other capacities on Monsters UniversityRatatouille and The Good Dinosaur. But it’s perhaps his work on Coco, which he co-wrote and co-directed, that e all know best.

Since Coco’s debut in theaters in Mexico, it has become the country’s highest-grossing movie in cinematic history. In the U.S., Coco, whose voice talent includes actors Gael Garcia Bernal, Edward James Olmos and Benjamin Bratt, has been a champion at the box office, coming in No. 1 three weekends in a row and garnering major Oscar buzz.

Aurora Guerrero

Born and raised in San Francisco to Mexican immigrant parents, director Aurora Guerrero graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in Psychology and Chicano studies. She dabbled in shorts for several years before directing an episode of Ava DuVernay’s groundbreaking series Queen Sugar, continuing DuVernay’s promise to have every episode directed by a woman of color.

Guerrero is gearing up to direct a feature she’s writing entitled Los Valientes about a gay, undocumented immigrant who finds his life turned upside down after traveling to a conservative Pennsylvania town.

Alfonso Arau

Though the Mexican director Alfonso Arau started out as an actor (some of his acting credits include The Wild BunchThree Amigos, and Romancing the Stone), he eventually transitioned to directing.

Arau’s two most well-known works are 1992’s Like Water for Chocolate and 1995’s A Walk in the Clouds. The former was based on the novel written by Arau’s then-wife Laura Esquivel, became the highest-grossing non-English-language film ever released in the United States at the time, and even got nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

Gloria Calderon Kellett

Perhaps one of her biggest credits is her work on One Day at a Time, which she created, wrote, executive produced, and even acted as co-show runner for the Netflix series.

Kellett grew up in Beaverton, Oregon, and San Diego, California, and earned her degree in Communications and Theater Arts from Marymount University. She’s not stepping into directing without some experience. She directed two shorts a few years ago, Mouthbreather and Blind, and an episode of the webseries Misery Loves Company in 2017. Earlier this year, Kellett announced she is developing a new TV show for CBS, History of Them.

Marvin Lemus

Mexican-Guatemalan-American filmmaker Marvin Lemus got his start in digital production, working on viral videos and marketing campaigns, including those utilized in the film Dear White People. After dabbling in shorts Lemus transitioned to creating his first series. The result was a web series titled Gente-fied.

Alfonso Cuarón

Along with his countrymen, Alfonso Cuarón has distinguished himself as one of the greatest directors of our time. Working in different genres, Cuarón has been both critically and commercially successful as well as becoming the first Latin American to win the Academy Award for Best Director.

Cuarón’s directorial debut was 1991’s Solo con tu pareja, but his first success came with his second film – A Little Princess which was nominated for two Oscars. Y tu mamá también was a massive hit and got nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.

Cuarón followed these achievements with Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban which got two Oscar nominations and is still considered to be the best installment in the franchise. His latest films, Gravity and Roma, both received multiple award nominations winning seven and three Oscars respectively. For both films, Cuarón won the Best Director award just like Iñárritu did.

Guillermo del Toro

It’s no secret that Guillermo del Toro is close friends with the two other prominent Mexican directors working today (Alejandro González Iñárritu and Alfonso Cuarón) with the trio being collectively known as “The Three Amigos of Cinema”. And their acclaim and success stem from their immense talent and hard work.

Del Toro has directed big-budget movies like Blade II and Hellboy (for which he also directed a sequel later on) before directing critically-acclaimed Pan’s Labyrinth which went on to be nominated for multiple awards. del Toro also directed Pacific RimCrimson Peak, and the Academy Award-winning The Shape of Water.

Alejandro González Iñárritu

Undoubtedly, Alejandro González Iñárritu is among the most successful directors working today – not just in his own country but internationally. Moreover, this worldwide success is probably tied to the fact that Iñárritu loves telling international stories and his films always have diverse casts.

Iñárritu’s directorial debut was 2000’s Amores perros which was the first installment in his Trilogy of Death and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. The two films that followed were also a part of the trilogy: 21 Grams which was nominated for two Oscars and Babel which won the Best Director at the Cannes Film Festival, won the Golden Globe Award for Best Drama, and got seven Oscar nominations.

But the most successful works of Iñárritu are definitely his two latest films: Birdman which won four Oscars and The Revenant which won three Oscars. In both cases, Iñárritu took home the Best Director award.

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