Entertainment

There’s A Casting Call For A ‘West Side Story’ Remake, And Producers Are Looking For Latino Actors To Star

Steven Spielberg is remaking “West Side Story” and people are flipping out!

It’s been reported that Spielberg is directing a remake of the 1961 musical classic “West Side Story.” Spielberg is apparently keeping very busy these days. The legendary director is also working on directing the fifth installment to the Indiana Jones franchise next year, which is set to be released in 2020, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Aside from directing this new and exciting version of “West Side Story,” Spielberg is full immersed in the casting details for this project as well.

The main reason people are thrilled over this new version is because the main characters must be Spanish-speaking Latinos.

The casting notice clearly indicates that the lead actors must be able to sing and dance, as would be expected. However, the call also says actors must be Spanish-speaking Latinos, as the characters were intended to be.

If you don’t know the film or even the musical it’s based off of, it’s your basic Romeo and Juliet story but instead of Verona  in the 1300s, “West Side Story” is set in Manhattan in the 1950s. It has yet to be revealed if the remake will also take place in that era or in present day.

The main characters are Tony and Maria, a caucasian boy and Puerto Rican girl who fall for each other despite their love being forbidden. There’s also Bernardo, Maria’s big brother and a gang leader who had beautifully choreographed dance fights against the rival gang, the Jets. His girlfriend, Anita, was Maria’s best friend and confidant who could dance up a storm.

As you may recall in the original film, the lead actors were not Puerto Rican except for Rita Moreno, who played Anita.

The white actors who starred in the film wore brown makeup and affected thick, inauthentic accents. The lead role of Maria was played by Natalie Wood, who didn’t actually do any of her own singing for the film.

The casting notice is out and producers are looking for a Tony, Maria, Anita, and Bernardo.

It’s also being reported that the new version of “West Side Story” will include the very talented Lin-Manuel Miranda. In the 2009 Broadway production of “West Side Story,” the song “I Feel Pretty” was altered to be sung in Spanish, with new lyrics translated by Miranda.

It’s clear that studio heads are finally taking notice that people are tired of #OscarsSoWhite and hiring Latinos for major Hollywood roles.

Here’s how people are taking the news on social media.


READ: Latinos Recall The First Time They Felt Represented In Movies And TV

Are you excited about seeing the remake of “West Side Story”? Let us know by sharing this story and commenting below!

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It’s Finally Justina Machado’s Time to Shine

Entertainment

It’s Finally Justina Machado’s Time to Shine

Photo: Getty Images

On Monday, beloved (and not to mention, underrated) actress Justina Machado sat down for a wide-ranging interview with the Los Angeles Times.

In it, Machado covers everything from her lengthy career, to the sad state of Latinx representation in Hollywood, to the offensive phone call she had with a tone-deaf TV exec in the ’90s.

Finally, after almost 25 years of hard work in Hollywood, Machado is dominating America’s Monday nights with two high-profile gigs: a spot on “Dancing With the Stars” and the return of “One Day At a Time” to CBS after it was unceremoniously dropped by Netflix.

Naturally, with so much on her plate, the Puerto Rican actress in not only mentally, but physically exhausted. After all, “Dancing With the Stars” is notorious for its grueling practice and shoot schedules. “Every day when I come home, my routine is dunking my feet in [an ice bath],” she told the LA Times. “The first week and a half of rehearsals, forget about it–I was crying.”

But Machado is glad that she took the DWTS opportunity for what it means in terms of Latinx representation on network television.

“The thing about ‘Dancing With the Stars’ is it reaches so many more homes than [‘One Day at a Time’]…,” she told the publication. “I know they’ve had Latinas on the show, but they need a whole lot more. And so I was like, ‘I’m going to do that. I’m going to be that Puerto Rican woman that’s on that show.’”

Throughout the interview, Machado gets candid about what it’s like to be a Latina in the American entertainment industry–which is an unforgiving business.

She described the beginning of her career as plagued by insecurity. Before she began a professional acting career, Machado was convinced she couldn’t make it as an actor because professional acting “wasn’t a part of [her] world.” “Nobody was an actor in Chicago that I knew, in my neighborhood, in the inner city of Chicago,” she explained.

After she finally established her footing in Hollywood, she was then met with further doors slammed in her face in the form of racism and anti-Latino sentiment.

Like when an executive called her to tell her why her TV show wasn’t moving forward, back in the ’90s.

“He literally called my house, nice man… and said, ‘My God, your pilot is so great. Everybody loves you, everybody. But we don’t think America is ready for a Latino family.’”

What’s depressing about this story is that Latino representation onscreen still hasn’t gotten much better over 20 years later. But Machado is hopeful that the tides of change are turning

“That was acceptable for him to say…Like, what? And that was the ’90s! And look at today. How many Latino families do you see on television? So America better get ready because we’re here. We’re here.” We know that if Machado has anything to do with the future of TV, we’ll be seeing Latino families more and more often.

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Latina Actresses Are Pivoting to Directing and Producing In Order to Get More Latinx Stories Told

Entertainment

Latina Actresses Are Pivoting to Directing and Producing In Order to Get More Latinx Stories Told

Credit: EVALONGORIA/AMERICAFERRERA/INSTAGRAM ; KEVIN WINTER/GETTY

The numbers are bleak. Latinos make up 18% of America’s population but only 5% of the number of speaking roles in movies in 2019 according to the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative.

Hollywood seems to be late to the party when it comes to Latino representation onscreen. But luckily, there are a handful of Latino artists and creators out there who are taking the fight to appear in front of the screen to behind the camera.

Take, for example, Eva Longoria, who was just announced to be directing and co-starring in the new action-comedy film, “Spa Day”

This marks the third movie the Mexican-American actress will be helming and the first Latina to ever direct more than one major studio film.

The other films on Longoria’s roster include a vehicle for her and Kerry Washington tentatively titled “24/7”, as well as the upcoming biopic “Flamin’ Hot”–a movie centered around Richard Montañez, the man who invented Flaming Hot Cheetos.

Longoria has been candid about how the decision to move into directing and producing has been a strategic one.

“One of the reasons I went into producing and directing was I wasn’t going to sit back and wait for somebody to create a role I wanted to do,” Longoria told Variety in 2018.

“You can’t just sit around waiting for [good projects], and I wanted to create that — not just for myself but for other Latinas.”

But her career transition isn’t unique as a Latina in Hollywood. She has joined the ranks of other Latinas in Hollywood who have began to produce and direct their own projects in order to finally see Latino stories told on screen.

Her peers include Jennifer Lopez (“Shades of Blue“, “Hustlers“), Selena Gomez (“Living Undocumented“), America Ferrera (“Gentefied“, “Superstore“), Gina Rodriguez (“Diary of an American President,” “Carmen San Diego“), and Salma Hayek (“Ugly Betty”).

All of these women have thrown their weight behind projects that otherwise wouldn’t be made if their names weren’t attached to them.

All of these women are creating stories that feature Latino stories and Latino talent–in front of and behind the camera.

America Ferrera explained the reason behind her conscious career pivot from acting to directing/producing: “My genuine heart’s desire is to tell stories that haven’t been told,” she told CBS This Morning. “It’s hard to get stories about people like us made. And then to get those stories told by us is very very uncommon.”

Although the endgame is to have Latinx stories greenlit without having to first be a famous singer or actress, the work these ladies are doing might be laying the foundation for an easier road for future industry players of Latino descent. Or as Longoria so eloquently put it: “If we unite and create opportunities for each other and pull each other up, there could be a lot more success for representation on TV.”

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