Dascha Polanco and Selenis Leyva play jail mates on “Orange is the New Black”, but from January 11th to February 12th, they will be playing neighbors as part of the Atlantic Theater’s off-Broadway world premiere of “Tell Hector I Miss Him”, a play by Paola Lázaro.
You’re in Puerto Rico. Old San Juan. You’re a tourist, you walk down the stairs of this beautiful old fort built by the Spaniards. When you reach the bottom, you realize you’re in a hole. Welcome to the basement that lies under the tourism and behind the fort walls. You spend some days there, you don’t want to leave. Oh no, you’re addicted. “Tell Hector I Miss Him” unmasks a community built on the law of respect that keeps getting washed away but refuses to drown.
In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month Netflix invited its Latino stars from “Orange is the New Black” and “On My Block”to chat over aguas frescas about diversity and what it’s like to be Latino in Hollywood—and things got real.
Jackie Cruz and Selenis Leyva from OITNB, sat down with Jason Genao and Jessica Maria Garcia from “On My Block” in Los Angeles’ Topanga Canyon to talk about what roles they were first offered as Latinos when they were starting to break into the business.
Selenis Leyva was the veteran at the table and discussed the misconception of actors not wanting certain roles.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Netflix
Leyva said she has played the prostitute over and over again until she got moved up to…drum roll…girlfriend of suspect. Jackie Cruz, Leyva’s OITNB co-star” chimed in that she was also given roles in a similar vein including inmate, rape victim, and heroin addict.
“I don’t have a problem with playing the maid. I don’t have a problem with playing the prostitute,” Leyva says. “I have a problem if that’s all you think I can play.”
Cruz chimed in saying that the various prostitute roles is why she is grateful for OINTB for changing things up.
Leyva asked her if it really did and that when Jason Genao chimed in saying that it is because of OITNB that we have “On My Block.”
“I think it has. It went from ‘Orange’ to ‘On My Block,'” Genao says. “You know, Lauren and Eddie and Jeremy come and pitch ‘On My Block’ and they’re like ‘No, it’s only black and Hispanic people. Is that the show you want?’ And they’re like, ‘That’s the show we want.’ And that’s the show we got.”
The conversation then evolved to how Latinos are often shut out of award shows.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Netflix
“The representation is out there, and yet, we only are invited to either attend the after-parties or to hand out the awards,” Leyva says. She further compared handing out trophies to handing out food at the faster parties and asked what the difference was.
A message to the academies: you can, and should, do better.
Watch the full video below as the stars discuss Hollywood’s lack of representation.
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Since being invited to the Academy of Motion Pictures, the world has finally learned that Tessa Thompson is Afro-Panamanian. You might remember her from “Dear White People” and “Creed,” but this Latina has so much more in store. Not only has Netflix decided to pick up “Dear White People” for a new series, Thompson is also going to be in the new “Thor” movies, giving us all an Afro-Latina superhero to look up to. Yasss!
If this Afro-Mexican singer isn’t adorning you with his beautiful smile and sultry voice, he’s using that same voice to call for social justice. Miguel’s latest song “How Many” is a plea for justice and acknowledgment of deaths of African-Americans at the hands of police. “How many black lives does it take to wake a change?” Damn.
Maxwell is currently touring and giving men and women everything with his incredible talent. In a recent interview, the soulful singer spoke about not feeling black enough to be in the company of some of the greatest should singers of the time. In his latest song “Lake By The Ocean” the Afro-Puerto Rican gives us clues to his love of his Caribbean background.
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Rosario Dawson has been killing the acting game for a long time. Now, this Afro-Cuban/Puerto Rican has become the voice many young Latinos have turned to this political season. Not only has the actor been out campaigning for her fave politician Bernie Sanders, she has even been arrested exercising her right to protest in a peaceful sit-in.
It has been a long time since we’ve heard “Milkshake” bless our radios, but Kelis isn’t done with her adventure yet. The Afro-Puerto Rican has been up to… cooking! Seriously. Not only is she now a chef, but she trained at Le Cordon Bleu and is showing off in London of all places. Now that is how you reinvent yourself.
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When this Afro-Puerto Rican isn’t dominating on the basketball court, he’s offering his voice and fame to social good. As a Baltimore native, Carmelo Anthony was in the march for justice following the death of Freddie Gray. Most recently, Anthony stood with other athletes to demand justice and change during a speech at the ESPYS.
Dominican-Puerto Rican actor Zoe Saldana is probably best known for her role in “Avatar,” when in fact she is really THE Afro-Latino representation in the sci-fi world. Not only are there three more Avatar movies in pre-production (all starring Saldana), she’s working with Star Trek and Guardians of the Galaxy. She also did this awesome thing where she called out the Bond writer for saying Idris Alba was too street to play Bond. We ALL know what “street” means, right?
That’s right. You might not have know this, but Gina Rodriguez is Afro-Puerto Rican. The TV comedy sensation revealed her Afro-Latina roots in an Instagram post tied to her #MovementMondays. Her father is Afro-Latino. You probably know her from a little show called “Jane the Virgin,” but did you know that she is the co-founder of a new lingerie line, Naja, which promises nude colors for all women of any race?
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She might be Gloria Mendoza on OITNB, but in the real world, Selenis Leyva is out to help everyone she can. The Afro-Cuban/Dominican actor spends her time off the set donating her energy and fame to the causes that matter to her most, like LGBTQ rights and fighting cancer.
Kid Cudi came out of NOWHERE with his hit song “Day ‘N Night,” and the whole world took notice. Since, the Afro-Mexican singer has been dropping hit after hit and recently teased us all with a future collaboration with Pharrell. He also opened up to a Billboard reporter about his past drug use as self-medication for his depression, giving others an example of what it means to get help and get out of dangerous and life-threatening situations.
Puerto Rican-Filipino-Hawaiian singer Peter Hernández, a.k.a. Bruno Mars, rocked our worlds when he first released “Just The Way You Are” in 2010. (And you just started singing it in your head, didn’t you?) In fact, this year, “Just The Way You Are” was certified nine-times platinum, meaning he’s another Latino owning the music industry. Most recently, Mars joined a growing list of musicians and music companies asking for Congress to change the wording of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. He joins artists like Bruce Springsteen and Taylor Swift asking for Congress to start protecting music and the copyrighting of musical content. You know, like how FULL albums get leaked on YouTube and people get to hear their hard work without actually playing for it.