Fierce

If “Never Been Kissed” Had An All Latinx Cast

Annapurna Pictures / 20th Century Fox

Who doesn’t have a soft-spot in their hearts for the quintessential Drew Barrymore ’90s rom-com “Never Been Kissed”? For those of you who don’t know, “Never Been Kissed” (which turned 20-years-old on Tuesday) is the story of Josie Geller, a young, mid-level reporter who is tasked to go undercover as a highschool student to infiltrate the school’s clique of popular kids and report on all of the scandalous things they’re getting up to. While she’s on assignment, she ends up falling head-over-heels with her English teacher (a dreamy Michael Vartan).

Sure, the storyline seems borderline inappropriate in our post-#MeToo era, but die-hard fans of the movie still celebrate it for its tender and affectionate portrayal of a nerdy, virginal bookworm who takes the phrase “unlucky in love” to another level. And although we love “Never Been Kissed”, there are unfortunately very few Latinos in the cast (although it does mark the film debut of a young Jessica Alba). So in celebration of “Never Been Kissed”‘s anniversary–and in order to bring attention to the issue of Latinx representation in the media–we’ve re-casted the original roster so it includes an all-Latinx talent pool.

1. Tessa Thompson as Josie Geller

If ever there was an actress–let alone a Latina actress–to fill Drew Barrymore’s shoes, it would undoubtedly would be powerhouse performer and “Sorry To Bother You” star Tessa Thompson.

2. Tessa Thompson has that relatable, cutesy quality that makes us want to do everything in our power to protect her.

@bisougray / Twitter

Not to mention, Thompson could convincingly play a teenager in her own right–let alone an adult–playing-an-adult-playing-a-teenager.

3. Jay Hernandez as Sam Coulson

jayhernandez001 Instagram; @xanpx Instagram

If any of you have seen Jay Hernandez in “Bad Moms”, then you know that this man can sell both sexy and responsible.

4. Jay Hernandez has a charisma that mixes intelligence with sex appeal

@jayhernandez001 Instagram

More than anything, it’s important that Sam/Mr. Coulson comes off as genuinely smart and respectful, otherwise this role could easily veer into “creepy” territory.

5. Wilmer Valderrama as Rob Geller

@wilmervalderrama Instagram; @franlouisa88 Instagram

Sure, we love Wilmer Valderrama now, but we also remember the days when he was one of Hollywood’s most notorious playboys.

6. Valderrama would be great as Josie’s lovable slacker brother who dreams of his high-school glory days.

@wilmervbrasil Instagram

Not to mention, we’d love to see Valderrama play Rodriguez’s brother.

7. Anjelah Johnson as Anita

@anjelahjohnson Instagram; @carynwelbys Twitter

Both hilarious actresses have the comedic timing to pull of the role of the sex-obsessed co-worker and best friend to Josie Geller.

8. Laz Alonso as George

@atlblackstar Twitter; screenshot via Youtube

Cuban-American actor Laz Alonso would be great as Josie’s right-hand man to her under-cover operation, George. Not to mention, he has the same levels of swag–not an easy feat!

9. John Leguizamo as Gus

erinpatricobrien Instagram; @iJohnCReilly Twitter

Like John C. Reilly, John Leguizamo is a kooky character actor that has the ability to play both serious and comedic roles.

10. Emiliano Diez as Rigfort

@joe69cool Instagram; drewseum Twitter

Originally played by the legendary director Garry Marshall, the role of newspaper owner and Josie’s boss would be a great fit for “George Lopez” actor, Emiliano Diez.

11. Diego Bonita as Guy Perkins

@diego Instagram; sweetvalleyparty Instagram

Who better to play a teen heartthrob and the unfortunate reminder of Josie’s unfortunate past than pretty-boy Diego Bonita? We already know he rocks at starring in teen-centric storylines (hello, “Pretty Little Liars”).

12. Michael Trevino as Jason

@michaeltrevino Instagram; @sweetvalleyparty Instagram

We love Mexican-American actor Michael Trevino, but if we learned anything from “The Vampire Diaries”, it’s that he’s very capable of pulling of an air-headed dumb jock, just like James Franco did so perfectly 20 years ago.

13. Victor Rasuk as Tommy

@victorrasuk Instagram; @sweetvalleyparty Instagram 3

What good is a group of popular guys without a third meat-head to round out the gang?

14. Cierra Ramirez as Aldys

@cierraramirez Instagram; @officialsdsa Instagram

Although Cierra Ramirez is all grown up now compared to her early days on “The Fosters”, we still think of her as the brilliant computer whiz, Mariana. Since we know she can convincingly play a cute nerdy girl, we think she’d be perfect to play the role of Josie’s first friend as an undercover teen: Aldys.

15. Lauren Velez as Cynthia

@lunalaurenvelez Twitter; @mikehaggs15 Twitter

Lauren Velez is exactly the type of actress to fill in Octavia Spencer’s usually un-fillable shoes as the no-nonsense coworker, Cynthia.

16. Naya Rivera as Kirsten

@nayarivera Twitter; @sunsetstripp Instagram

Initially played by legendary Latina actress Jessica Alba, Naya Rivera would be a great updated choice to play the leader of the mean girls, Queen-B Kirsten. Not only is she beautiful, she’s also just the right amount of scary!

17. Sofia Carson as Kristen

@VSofiCarson Twitter; @youthoughtyouforgot Instagram

The less powerful and laughably interchangeble other-half of the Kirsten/Kristen duo. Sofia Carson isn’t as menacing as Naya Rivera, but we’re sure she’d have a great time playing a ditz after playing such strong characters throughout her career.

18. Camila Mendes as Gibby

@camilamednes Instagram; @youthoughtyouforgot Instagram

Gibby is the “Gretchen Weiners” of this “Never Been Kissed” popular-girl group. Who else but Camilla Mendes to fill the role of the requisite brunette best-friend?

19. Isabela Moner as Rob’s Girlfriend

@isabelamoner Instagram; via IMDB

Isabela Moner gives off the perfect vibe of both sexy and cute to be Rob’s high school girlfriend (who also happens to be a gymnast).

20. Tony Revolori as Merkin

@TonyRevolori Twitter; @screenshot via Facebook

As Josie’s nerdy coworker, we could totally see “Spiderman: Homecoming”‘s Tony Revolori pull of this role. He has both the talent and the physicality to make this his own.

There Is Going To Be A Remake Of Disney’s ‘Hercules’ And It Is Going To Have An All Black Cast

Entertainment

There Is Going To Be A Remake Of Disney’s ‘Hercules’ And It Is Going To Have An All Black Cast

There’s a new live-action stage version of Disney’s 1997 animated film “Hercules” at the Public Theater in New York City — and Hercules is Black as hell

In 1997, San Francisco Gate’s Peter Sack described the film as, “The great old Greek is turned into a ’90s-style athlete who gets endorsements, sandals named after him and a chance to stand tall among nymphs and muses.”

Sound familiar to you? Lest we not forget this was the same era that Michael Jordan did Space Jam and Shaquille O’Neal did Kazaam. The original animated film took inspiration from major athletes of the time and thus, it inevitably heavily references Black and hood ’90s culture. If you watch it now the sneakers, the gospel music, the humor, it probably seems so obvious. 

One might wonder with all these references to the Black popular culture of the ’90s, why didn’t the creators just make Hercules Black? Well, they finally have.

The story of Hercules.  

While most of us were forced to read and re-read Hercules in secondary school, not everyone may know the story. Hercules is the son of the king and queen of the gods, Zeus and Hera. When a prophecy foretells that he will eventually defeat the god of the underworld, Hades, Hercules is kidnapped as an infant. Unable to kill him, Hades is able to take his immortality away but not his strength. The baby Hercules is raised by a mortal couple. At 18 he figures out his real origins and is determined to become a hero so that he can return to Mount Olympus with the gods.

Meet your new Hercules.

Hercules at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park, through The Public Theater’s Public Works Program is based on the 1997 animated film, and has kept Alan Menken’s musical score. If that name sounds familiar, it’s because he also created the music for Disney’s Aladdin. Jelani Alladin stars as the demi-god Hercules. Krysta Rodriguez plays his love interest Megara.

The difference between the stage musical and the film is that Disney has finally chosen to embrace their story’s Blackness. Rather than simply coding their narrative as one with allusions to Black culture, they’ve put that Blackness at the forefront and center. That’s what we call growth! Everybody loves Black culture, it’s time we start loving the people who make it. 

Danielle C. Belton of The Root describes the original as having flirted with African-American culture, while this new version embraces a multicultural cast. 

“While the film Hercules only flirted with African-American music and culture—the muses who were the “Greek chorus” throughout the film were patterned after classic, Motown-style Black ‘50s girl groups,” she writes. “This version of ancient Greece and the Greco-Roman gods features quite a few Black, Asian and Latinx people, including Jelani Alladin as the titular teenaged Hercules, and, of course—all five of the doo-wopping muses are…sistas with voices.”

How Hercules gave nods to Black culture. 

Hercules is something of a hood icon. It was the first time many kids probably saw Black women portrayed as the muses and Greek chorus. This gaggle of doo-wopping muses sang the funky, soulful Hercules theme. There were also pivotal aspects of hood culture, some of it is even social commentary. Hercules’s character is parallel to the superstar basketball players of the ’90s, their rabid fans, and endorsement deals. The creators, Ron Clements and John Musker, even referred to Hercules as the Michael Jordan of his time. 

In the movie, we see a young Hercules’ as he rises to fame for being a demi-God with some serious strength. When the hero-worship begins, he snags a sweet endorsement deal — but these aren’t Nike Jordans — they’re fresh to death Hercules sandals called Air-Hercs. When the villain Hades sees that one of his minions is rocking the Hercules sandals his response is simple and iconic: what are those?The phrase has now become a popular meme on Black Twitter going so far as being referenced in the “Black Panther” movieThe hero even has his own version of a Gatorade sponsorship, the drink is called “Herculade.”

A Latinx Megara embraces feminism.

Unlike other Disney women of the era, Megara was never waiting to be saved. She was sarcastic, witty, and pretty unimpressed with Hercules’ attempts to holler at her. Krysa Rodriguez’ Megara puts feminism at the forefront — again we see subtle codes made explicit. 

“In a new song, a pants-clad Meg imagines a world without men, envisioning it as a utopia where she could do as she pleases. A dopey, lovestruck Hercules, seeking to demonstrate his feminist credentials, replies clumsily, ‘My mom’s a woman,’” writes Adrienne Westenfeld for Esquire.

Diversity is always an improvement. We live in a multicultural world, there is never anything wrong with reflecting that in the stories we tell. After all, it’s the stories we tell that teach us who we are and who we will become. For Hercules that is learning the truth about his traumatic past to create a better future — for America, well, it’s no different.

This Short Film Centers Around A Black Father Doing His Daughter’s Hair

Entertainment

This Short Film Centers Around A Black Father Doing His Daughter’s Hair

When it comes to grooming a daughter’s hair, Black fathers haven’t been shy about expressing the difficulties that come along with the morning ritual. And Afro-Latino fathers are no exception. In Latinx communities with large Afro-Latino populations, having “good hair” is a label we all have to contend with. Young girls have a lot of pressure put on them to look put-together so, by extension, our families look put together. 

We all have memories of our mothers making sure our baby-bangs were smoothed down and our outfits were washed and pressed to perfection. 

Being well-groomed is so important to Afro-Latinos who face societal pressure to look perfect in order to combat bias.

Kickstarter

So, when fathers occasionally have to groom their children when their mother is unavailable, the pressure, needless to say, is on. We’ve all seen the genre of viral videos where fathers struggle to part, brush, braid and secure their daughters’ hair–obviously not previously aware of all the labor that goes into daily hair upkeep. Even celebrities have gotten in on the trend with men like Alexis Ohanian, husband to Serena Williams, joining “Natural Hair” groups on Facebook to learn more about their children’s rizos

Writer/director Matthew Cherry wanted to explore the topic of Black fathers doing their daughters hair, so he decided to make an animated short about it.

Kickstarter

According to Cherry, the short, titled “Hair Love” is about a Black father (who has locs himself) who does his daughter’s hair for the first time. “You know how guys are, a lot of times we’re hard-headed and we think we can figure everything out by ourselves without asking for help,” said Cherry during an interview. “[The father in the short] thinks it’s going to be an easy task but he soon finds out her hair has a mind of its own”. 

The father isn’t the only one who learns a lesson in self-confidence in the course of the film, though. In the end, the young girl also “comes into a level of self-confidence in the process” of her father learning how to do her hair. So, in other words, the entire film is an ode to self-love, family, and the priceless experience of bonding.

To finance “Hair Love”, Cherry created a Kickstarter campaign with the initial goal of raising $75,000. The campaign quickly caught the internet’s attention and became a viral phenomenon thanks to celebrity champions like Issa Rae and Jordan Peele. The $75,000 goal was quickly surpassed. All in all, the campaign raked in a total of $280,000–smashing Kickstarter’s short-film financing records. 

Cherry recruited Black animators like “Proud Family”‘s Bruce W. Smith and “WALL-E”‘s Everett Downing Jr. to help him make his dreams a reality.

As for Cherry, he’s candid about the reason he decided to explore the topic of Black hair and Black fathers: because mainstream media’s representation has left much to be desired. According to Cherry, not only did he want to shine a light on the labor of love that doing Black hair requires, but he wanted to highlight the relationships between Black fathers and their daughters. 

“For me, I just think it was really important to shine a light on Black fathers doing domestic things with their kids because mainstream media would lead you to believe that Black fathers aren’t a part of their kids’ lives”, Cherry said. “And there have been a lot of recent surveys that actually show otherwise–that show that Black fathers are just as involved in their kids’ lives as any other racial group”.

Now, “Hair Love” will be played ahead of “The Angry Birds Movie 2” in theaters nationwide

Kickstarter

The nationwide release will provide a massive platform for an under-told story. Not to mention, it will provide Black children with their own images reflected back to them–something many of them haven’t seen before. Not to mention, the security of a theatrical release has made “Hair Love” officially eligible for an Academy Award nomination. 

As for Cherry, he’s over-the-moon about the opportunity for his project to be seen by millions of people. “To see this project go from a Kickstarter campaign to the big screen is truly a dream come true,” he said in a press statement. “I couldn’t be more excited for “Hair Love” to be playing with “The Angry Birds Movie 2” in front of a wide audience and for the world to see our touching story about a Black father trying to figure out how to do his daughter’s hair for the very first time.”

We’ll admit: we didn’t have plans to see “Angry Birds 2” in theaters before we knew about this. But now, you might just see us on opening night, standing in line for the movie right next to our fathers! Catch “Hair Love” before  “The Angry Birds Movie 2” in theaters on August 14th.