In an impassioned letter posted to Billboard, Colombian-American actor John Leguizamo went off on the state of Latino affairs in Hollywood. The 53-year-old can’t believe that the MTV VMAs snubbed “Despacito” (in the best video of the year category), a video which Leguizamo reminds us has over 3 billion views (the most views of any video on YouTube ever). It fired up Leguizamo, who sees it as the most obvious example of an attempt to exclude Latinos from the limelight.
John Leguizamo broke down his frustrations with the ever-increasing disparity he sees with Latinos in the entertainment industry.
“‘Despacito’ is the name of a Spanish-language music video by Daddy Yankee and Luis Fonsi with a historic record-breaking 3 billion views on YouTube. The song, not the video, was a late, perfunctory inclusion as the song of the summer at the MTV Video Music Awards. We must ask ourselves, is this a blatant omission? A proactive and decisive stand against the Spanish language? With 3 billion views, this historic song and video triumphs over the likes of, with all due respect, Beyoncé or Taylor Swift, but this is only one example of exclusion.”
Leguizamo really wasn’t feeling that snub, yo.
Leguizamo has been outspoken on issues of underrepresentation in the past, but this seems to have been enough for him.
“It was OK in the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s because we’d tell ourselves, ‘They don’t know better,’ as a justification to ease our alienation. It wasn’t fair, but it was status quo. Not knowing better is a symptom of ignorance, not evil. We assumed people over time just needed to become educated, and in turn would empower Latino equality in the arts. We were wrong… I was wrong.
In his letter, he talks about how waiting for the world to change feels antiquated at this point. With the world as connected as it has ever been through social media, the 24/7 news cycle and the collective knowledge of the planet only a keyboard stroke away, the fact that we’re still fighting for our place in the media with a population Leguizamo says is near 70 million, seems ridiculous to him.
He’s asking the real questions here.
“There are almost 70 million Latinos in America, and why do we remain so absent and invisible when we are the second-largest ethnic group after whites?”
Ultimately, he says, it’s up to us to make a stand, make good art and inspire the next generation to stop waiting for the approval of the mainstream.
“‘They don’t know better’ once quelled all delusion of grandeur. We quietly went back to our corner and waited for our turn in line… but not anymore. It’s time we stand up. It’s time we educated and enabled the Latin people to better the world through brilliant art. We have a lot to offer the world… and I’ve come to feel sorry for those who have yet to know it.”
Leguizamo’s show “Latin History for Morons” comes to Broadway this fall.
If there is something we can always count on from show biz, it’s stars fighting other stars. As 2019 comes to an end, we’re looking back at the year in celebrity beef. It can be hard to keep track of celebrities who hate each other and why, but this list of 2019 celeb feuds will keep you informed on the latest celebrity rivalries and disputes.
Kevin Fret’s Mom vs. Ozuna
After the Puerto Rican Trap artist Kevin Fret died, his mom accused Ozuna of being involved in the artist’s homicide. Ozuna filed a complaint with the FBI alleging that late queer trapero Kevin Fret was blackmailing the Aura singer over the video. Ozuna confirmed his appearance in the video through a statement released by his manager Vincente Saavedra, and said that he was underage in the video and that it was “an error from the past.”Ozuna was interrogated by the authorities, but according to the police, he was not implicated in any criminal activities.
Maluma vs. J Balvin
The two reggaeton giants have been surrounded by rivalry rumours for years, and they had further enforced them by never working or appearing together. This year, they fired shots at each other in their joint music video for the collab track ‘Qué pena’. In the slick new music video, Maluma and Balvin take turns imitating each others’ Instagram personas: Maluma shouts into his phone, “This is for the culture man! Para la cultura!” Meanwhile, Balvin smooches himself in the mirror and purrs, “Maluma, baby. Mamacita.” So I guess, the air is clear now. There’s no conflict between them anymore, all is good in the universe.
Anuel AA & Bad Bunny Vs. Maluma
Anuel AA teased at a new song on his Instagram. He talked about the ice on his neck, his enemies and his squad, and went on to rap “Nunca flow Maluma, siempre real G.” Bad Bunny, on his part, is a fan of the line, and he took to twitter to share it.
Bryant Myers vs. Anuel AA
In an Insta Live in April, Bryant Myers challenged Anuel to a fight after the Real Hasta La Muerte brand porter insulted him in his single “Fulete.” “Pero, papi, tu no respetas a nadie, cabrón,” Myers responded.
Reggaetoneros vs. Grammy Latino
Daddy Yankee, J Balvin, and a number of other famous Latin music artists announced their boycott of the 2019 Latin Grammy Awards due to whitewashing.The boycott was a response to the absence of Reggaeton musicians from the list of nominees for the show’s 10 primary award categories, despite the genre’s monumental rise to global popularity over the decade.
Don Omar vs. Ozuna
Earlier this year, Don Omar took advantage of rumors that were swirling about a sex tape featuring Ozuna by launching some indirect homophobic slurs towards the Aura singer, who is a longtime rival. Don Omar’s initial comments on Tuesday inspired a backlash that even included Carmen Yulín Cruz, the mayor of San Juan, as well as Bad Bunny. Yesterday, the rey de reggaeton posted a message on both Instagram and Twitter. “Lunch break? Any of you eat ?? Not me,” a reference to the anti-gay slur “pato.” Don Omar also shared a video of a duck humping a teddy bear in his Instagram stories; fans immediately identified both comments as homophobic references to Ozuna, since the Aura singer’s logo is also a teddy bear.
While Cardi has been trying her best to move past her ongoing beef with Nicki Minaj, the “MEGATRON” rapper didn’t have a problem adding more fuel to the fire. After sharing went down between herself, Cardi, and the Migos back in 2017, Minaj went on to open up about her “authentic come-up,” saying she relied solely on her talent in order to make it in the industry.
“I still had to go through these things because of people like you who made a sport out of tearing down a young, black woman who’s done nothing but come in this game with an authentic come-up, writing raps, and doing what the f**kin’ was really necessary,” she said. “No Instagram, no reality shows, no sucking DJs’ d*cks.”
Bella Thorne vs. Whoopie Goldberg
After a hacker threatened to release her nude photos, Bella Thorne took matters into her own hands and released them herself. However, when The View spoke about the situation a few days later, Whoopi Goldberg didn’t seem to think the 21-year-old’s actions were quite as brave and strong as the others, who lauded her and shamed the hacker for trying to extort Bella Thorne.
“Listen, if you’re famous, I don’t care how old you are, you don’t take nude pictures of yourself.” Whoopi Goldberg said, seemingly blaming the actress for getting hacked.
But Bella Thorne was not about to take that sitting down. She took to her Instagram stories and first wrote a long note about how “displeased and saddened” she was by Whoopi Goldberg’s stance, before announcing she would be canceling her scheduled appearance on The View, because she didn’t feel like “being beaten down by a bunch of older women.”
Demi Lovato vs. Taylor Swift
If there is one person who is tired of all the non-drama drama, it’s Demi herself, who took to Instagram on Monday morning to set the record straight once and for all. “Life’s too short for women not to support other women,” she wrote. “Especially when women release great music. Great job Taylor Swift.” She accompanied that peace treaty with a screenshot of her phone, showing her playing Taylor’s song “Cruel Summer” from her new album, “Lover,” calling it “a jam.” Swift later took to Instagram herself re-sharing Lovato’s message to her Instagram story and saying, “This is so awesome & put the biggest smile on my face.”
“Thank you Demi Lovato,” she added.
Khloe Kardashian vs. Jordyn Woods
Perhaps the biggest feud of the year kicked off back in February! That’s when it was revealed that Khloe Kardashian‘s boyfriend, NBA star Tristan Thompson, cheated on her (again), this time with someone very close to the family — sister Kylie Jenner’s best friend, Jordyn Woods. The affair ended not only Khloe’s romantic relationship with the father of her child , but effectively finished off Jordyn’s previously tight-knit relationship with the whole Kardashian-Jenner clan.
Princess Nokia vs. Kali Uchis
The internet dug up the receipts pertaining to Nokia’s “Orange Blossom” song, a 2015 track that bears more than a passing resemblance to Kali Uchis’ 2013 “Honey Baby.” Nokia had previously deleted the “Orange Blossom” video entirely, but someone re-uploaded it with an alternative title if you want to catch the clip.
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Colombian actor John Leguizamo is raising money to crowdsource an all-Latino produced comic book series featuring all Latino and Latina superheroes. Leguizamo says he “grew up loving comic books,” but he “knew that there was no white guy in tights like Superman coming to save my ass in my neighborhood,” so he’s creating a Latino superhero of his own. Leguizamo is partnering with Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez, the artist who brought us bestselling superhero series “La Borinqueña” and is looking for more Latino artists, illustrators, producers and editors to join the team.
So far, the crowdsourcing project has raised $2k of the necessary $75k to get the project off the ground.
According to the crowdsourcing website, Seed and Spark, the premise of PhenomX’s story is that “Sometimes, when the powers that be knock you down, you have to transform and bring the system down with you.” Set in present-day New York City, PhenomX’s story begins with an illegal government project to “rehabilitate criminals” in an experimental drug trial that turns them into superpowers. Then, we meet Max Gomez who “is finally about to be released from prison with a second chance at life and fatherhood. But with growing concerns about re-entering the outside world as an ex-con, Max doesn’t know where to turn.” An FBI agent offers Max an opportunity to capture the “failed experiments,” by giving him superpowers.
Still, Max “feels like a prisoner. Secrets are still being kept from him, and his target grows stronger every moment. Watch Max as he learns that he’s more than just a statistic… he’s more than just an ex-convict… he’s more than a phenomenon… he’s PhenomX.”
Leguizamo doesn’t want to wait for Hollywood. “Holly-wouldn’t,” he says.
“I want to share with you this new proposal. We’re going to be entrepreneurs together,” Leguizamo tells a camera stationed outside a Chicago theater just before Leguizamo’s “Latin History for Morons” performance. He’s incognito, “hence the glasses and the hoodie.” Leguizamo is asking us to invite our tías and tíos to contribute to the worthy cause. “I grew up loving comic books, Spiderman, Superman, The X-Men, Sub-Mariner, Thor, but there were no Latin people. What happened? We existed! Being Latin IS a superpower, y’all!” Leguizamo says. The entire project is going to be Latin-fueled. “It’s going to be written by me, a Latin guy, and colored and drawn and penciled by all Latin folks,” Leguizamo continued. “We’re going to have Latinas with superpowers. We’re not gonna wait for Hollywood. Holly wouldn’t. Hollywhite. Forget that. We’re doing it ourselves.”
Leguizamo hopes that PhenomX inspires young Latinos to see themselves as superheroes, too.
“In today’s world, it’s incredibly important to support Latin artists,” Leguizamo writes on Seed and Spark. “I hope to use this project to not only inspire the Latin youth community but also celebrate the contributions of Latin artists to the comic book world. There is a lack of Latin representation in Hollywood, and it’s important to showcase Latin superheroes. Now, you can help me by supporting this comic book series to inspire Latinx teens.”
Every single person who makes a contribution will score swag ranging from stickers to becoming a character in the story.
For $25, you automatically receive a digital copy of the first PhenomX comic book. A $75 donation earns you an autographed copy of one of the first PhenomX comic books. Donations of $1,000 or more earn you a slice of John’s favorite New York-style pizza with John Leguizamo himself (travel not included). “If you give super money, then, I’m going to draw a character that looks like you and name a character after you,” Leguizamo says of the highest $10k donation tier listed.
Leguizamo is the Renaissance Man we need right now.
Leguizamo was born July 22, 1964, in Bogotá, Colombia. He moved to Queens, New York when he was just four years old. He is known for his roles in Hangin’ with the Homeboys (1991), Romeo + Juliet (1996) and the voice of Sid in Ice Age (2002). Most recently, Leguizamo has introduced a Broadway play, “Latin History for Morons,” and now he’s dabbling in comic books. We don’t know what you can’t do, Leguizamo. His campaign has drawn in 37 donations totaling $2,033, averaging $55 per donation. Join in on the cause by donating here.