Entertainment

When White Actors Stop Getting All The Good Latino Roles, Maybe We’ll Stop Complaining

ARGO / Warner Bros. Pictures

Did you know that in 2013, less than 5 percent of movie roles went to Latino actors?

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Damon replied:

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Brown’s reaction said it all.

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So, Matt Damon, if diversity is achieved through casting, why did your pal Ben Affleck cast himself as Tony Mendez in Argo?

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Credit: Warner Bros.

In 2012, Affleck played CIA agent Tony Mendez, the central character in Argo. Affleck caught plenty of flak for casting himself, and not a Latino actor, in the role. When asked about the decision to play Mendez, Affleck said:

“You know, I obviously went to Tony and sought his approval…was the first thing. And Tony does not have, I don’t know what you would say, a Latin/Spanish accent, of any kind really, and… you know you wouldn’t necessarily select him out of a line of ten people and go ‘This guy’s Latino.’ So I didn’t feel as though I was violating some thing, where, here’s this guy who’s clearly ethnic in some way and it’s sort of being whitewashed by Ben Affleck the actor. I felt very comfortable that if Tony was cool with it, I was cool with it.”

Ben Affleck isn’t the first white actor to play a Latino in a movie. He probably won’t be the last.

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Credit: Disney

Let’s go back in time… this has been happening for DECADES.

1939: Paul Muni in Juarez

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Credit: Warner Bros.

Muni played Mexican president Benito Juarez in a film that also starred Bette Davis as Carlota of Mexico.

1952: Marlon Brando in Viva Zapata!

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1961: Natalie Wood in West Side Story

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Credit: United Artists

Although Puerto Rican actor Rita Moreno won an Oscar for the role of Anita, white actor Natalie Wood played the Puerto Rican character Maria.

1969: Jack Palance in Che! 

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Credit: 2oth Century Fox

Jack Palance, on the right, played Fidel Castro. That’s Omar Sharif as Che Guevara.

1989: Armand Assante in The Mambo Kings

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Credit: Warner Bros.

Assante, an Italian actor, was tasked with playing a Cuban musician named Cesar Castillo.

1993: Ethan Hawke in Alive

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Credit: Buena Vista Pictures

Hawke played Nando Parrado in Alive, the true story of an Uruguayan rugby team whose plane crashed in the Andes and were forced to take drastic measures to survive.

1995: Marisa Tomei in The Perez Family

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Credit: The Samuel Goldwyn Company

Tomei played Dorita Evita Perez, a Cuban refugee who makes it to the US in the Mariel boatlift.

1996: Madonna in Evita

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Credit: Buena Vista Pictures

In this musical, Madonna was cast to play Argentine First Lady Eva Perón.

1996: Hank Azaria in The Birdcage

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2001: Jennifer Connelly in A Beautiful Mind

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Credit: Universal Pictures

Connelly played John Nash’s wife, Alicia, who was from El Salvador.

But that only happened in the old days, when there were no Latino actors to choose from, right? WRONG.

2011, Carey Mulligan in Drive

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Credit: FilmDistrict

The character of Irene was written as a young Latina, but director Nicolas Winding Refn cast Carey Mulligan instead. He told The Huffington Post:

“I couldn’t find any actress that would click with me personally. I couldn’t make a decision for some reason. I had all this talent in front of me and out of the blue I get a call from Carey because she wanted to meet me about doing a movie. She came by the house and she walked in and I realized, ‘Oh my God, this is what I was looking for.’ I wanted to protect her … And I knew that was the Driver’s motivation.”

And one more time, for emphasis: Ben Affleck as Tony Mendez in 2012’s ARGO.

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Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

So what were you saying about diversity and casting, Matt Damon?

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Netflix Officially Cast The Role Of Selena Quintanilla And ‘Twilight’ Fans Will Be Thrilled

Entertainment

Netflix Officially Cast The Role Of Selena Quintanilla And ‘Twilight’ Fans Will Be Thrilled

Netflix has officially selected a Latina to keep the legacy of Tejano music legend, Selena Quintanilla, alive. For its highly anticipated show “Selena: The Series,” the big-time streaming platform has tapped Christian Serratos, AKA Rosita Espinosa of AMC’s “The Walking Dead” series.

Twenty-four years after her tragic death Selena is, once again, being brought back to life on the screen.

Little information has been released by Netflix about the series, but Serratos casting will undoubtedly launch quite a bit of chatter.

christianserratos/ Instagram

The series, which was created with the participation of the Quintanilla family and announced by Netflix last December, has already garnered quite a bit of anticipation online. Back in 1997, the casting process for the singer had the Latino community astir for months until it was finally revealed that then-dancer, singer and actress Jennifer Lopez (still known as a triple threat for her moves, voice and acting chops) had earned the role. The Boricua’s casting caused quite the controversy primarily because she was not Mexican. This time around, Netflix kept the controversy in mind while conducting casting. In a recent interview with NBC News, Moisés Zamora– who is the head writer and one of the executive producers for the show– explained how crucial it was for him to ensure Mexican- identity was strongly included in the show.

“I associated her with my family and being Mexican in America,” he told the outlet at the time while highlighting how the younger singer was shaped by her identity of being a woman of Mexican heritage who also grew up in Corpus Christi while speaking English.

For the latest portrayal of Selena, the executive producer was involved in the casting of Serratos, a Latina of both Mexican and Italian descent.

Serratos knows all about breathing life into deceased characters.

AMC

For four seasons she has raged against the undead in “The Walk Dead” and in her earlier career played Angela Webber, friend to Bella Swan lover of vampires, in Twilight.

According to outlets, it’s unclear how the series will tackle Quintanilla’s vocals.

Back when Lopez took her turn as the singer, she was made to lip-sync to Quintanilla’s vocals. We’re pretty sure that if Netflix doesn’t decide to do the same, they’ll be in good hands because Serratos voice is banging. She even sings “Baila Esta Cumbia” in this compilation!

So far fans of Selena are on board with the news.

While buzz online hasn’t quite ramped up, we’re pretty sure once news of the casting catches on Latina Twitter will be doing the washing machine for days.

And it appears Serratos has the Selena Fan Club seal of approval.

And it’s no wonder why! Serratos cuts a pretty uncanny resemblance to the Tejano beauty.

Of course, while most of the reactions to Serratos casting have been positive the TWD club is a bit worried.

Okay TBH it feels like a worthy sacrifice.

Like literally people are bummed.

Pero… like I said! Serratos as Selena will totally be worth it.

(Jeeze… wonder if she’ll die by zombie attack?)

But there is a silver lining to the upset.

If fans of “The Walking Dead” are this bummed over possibly losing Serratos, that means she must be pretty damn good at taking on great roles. So here’s to Serratos and her new role! Hopefully, for TWD fans she’ll be able to juggle both… if not bidi bidi bom bom.

Netflix Is Bringing Latinidad To The Fantasy Realm And LOTR Fans Gear Up

Entertainment

Netflix Is Bringing Latinidad To The Fantasy Realm And LOTR Fans Gear Up

Streaming services like Netflix have become our go-to place for fresh media. So, whenever we hear of a new project coming from the streaming service, we’re all in. Last November, Netflix announced a huge 6 project animated deal that will bring even more cartoon goodness to our screens. One, in particular, has us especially excited because it comes from animator and director Jorge Gutierrez. You might remember him from Nickelodeon’s “El Tigre: The Adventures of Manny Rivera” and the gorgeously animated “The Book of Life.”

Now, we’re seeing the first looks of Gutierrez’s new Netflix project, “Maya and the Three.”

Twitter / @mexopolis

Described as a Mesoamerican fantasy epic, the director sat down with VARIETY to share the origins of the project and the journey to get it made. Gutierrez was approached by Netflix with an alluring challenge: share his dream project with executives; the one he didn’t believe anyone would ever allow him to make. It only took him one pitch to win the streaming giant over and “Maya” was greenlit for production.

“So I sat down on Jan. 25th of [2018] and that was the first time I ever pitched ‘Maya,’” he shared with VARIETY. “No art, no writing, just an idea. And here I am 11 months later, knee-deep in production.”

It was Gutierrez’s goal to portray a “bad-ass female Mesoamerican hero” in a fantasy world of his own creation.

Twitter / @zette16

“I started seeing a lot of things I didn’t like as far as not having any lead females, especially in Mesoamerican mythology,” he explained. “So I said I want to have a hero who is a half-god half-human warrior princess.”

In the Netflix series, a demigod warrior princess named Maya embarks on a quest to recruit three legendary fighters. With their help, she hopes to save the worlds of god and man from destruction. The intention was to show Maya as a strong female lead and, to do so, Gutierrez pulled from his real-life heroes. The director credits his sister, mother and his wife, Sandra Equihua for inspiring the mythical heroine. Equihua is also a talented animator and acts as a character designer for the female characters in her husband’s work.

With his female lead in place, Gutierrez focused on the mystical world that “Maya” would be set in.

Twitter / @mexopolis

The setting for the Netflix limited series has been growing in Gutierrez’s mind since he was a boy growing up in Mexico City. He would wander the halls of the Museum of Natural History and makeup stories about what he saw. These stories would later help to mold the setting. Even now, the director has fun teasing his Twitter followers with hints about what the new series could look like. However, it’s the architecture from his boyhood explorations, Gutierrez’s fondness for skulls and the pantheon of Mesoamerican gods that have helped to create Maya’s world.

Due to the mystical quest and the fantasy setting of “Maya and the Three,” Gutierrez has taken to calling the series the Mexican “Lord of the Rings.” Still, it’s a fantasy first and foremost. The director wants everyone to understand that “Maya” is inspired by Mesoamerican culture but is not meant to be an accurate representation.

“I tell everybody that while it’s inspired by Mesoamerica, this will be as accurate (to that world) as ‘Rocky’ was to boxing,” Gutierrez shared with VARIETY. “It’s all fantasy and I’m having a blast playing with the history.”

The series will feature a number of talented Latinx writers, producers and voice actors to bring Maya to life.

Instagram / @thraxisjr

Silvia Olivas from “Elena of Avalor” is acting as a co-writer and co-producer for “Maya and the Three.” From Disney’s “Moana,” Jeff Ranjo is the head of story. Paul Sullivan, who worked with Gutierrez on “The Book of Life,” is the production designer.

Despite these important hires, animators were in short supply so the producer had to get creative.

“Especially in L.A., we are all fighting for basically the same people, so now we’re looking outside. Before we announced Maya, I would go online and look for artists who were already inspired by Mesoamerica and say to them ‘You already love this stuff, we love it too! Come to our team.’”

Gutierrez used Instagram, Twitter, and Tumblr to find animators that could do justice to the project. This modern-day recruiting system allowed Gutierrez and his team to find fresh artists with untapped talent to animate “Maya.” The results promise to be unique and beautiful.

The series is still a long ways away; it won’t debut on Netflix until its 2021 worldwide release. While it’s a long wait, the director promises fans that it is well worth it.

“Please have patience,” he told fans through his VARIETY interview. “This is gonna take a while, but we hope it’s unlike anything anyone has ever seen. We are so giddy every day and still can’t believe this is happening.”

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