Actress Speaks Out After Asked To Audition For ‘Derogatory’ Latina Housekeeper Character For Netflix
Latinos in Hollywood have had just about enough. Despite being the largest ethnic minority in the U.S., Latinos make up only 4.5% of speaking roles in TV and film. Latino representation is an issue that Hollywood is still grappling with. Luckily, Latinos in Hollywood are no longer afraid to speak up and speak out against underrepresentation and negative stereotypes.
Yesterday, veteran actress Ada Maris (who you probably know as the mom in “The Brothers Garcia”) spoke out about a “hurtful and derogatory” housekeeper role that she was asked to audition for on an upcoming Netflix show.
The Netflix series is called “Uncoupled” and will follow a character played by Neil Patrick Harris as he tries to navigate New York City dating as a middle-aged gay man. In the script that Maris was given, there was a minor character who was a stereotypical Latina housekeeper.
The character speaks in broken English and is introduced in the script as acting “hysterical” over a robbery.
The script included lines like: “Mister, I just get here and they stole! They stole! They rob you! I don’t know how they get in.” When Harris’ character is cleaning, she chides him: “No, I do that. You don’t clean good, you always leave a ring.”
Ada Maris was upset that such a one-dimensional character is still being portrayed on television. She told Variety that she was especially dismayed because of the strides that streaming services like Netflix have recently made towards better representation on TV.
“Young people are impressionable,” she told Variety. “These media images shape our ideas of ourselves. That’s why it’s really important that the portrayals be more realistic, not hurtful. We need to see ourselves more like we really are.”
Once Maris saw the script, she called her agent to express her anger over the offensive character. She then decided that she was going to speak out about it.
Maris told Variety that she was inspired by the new Rita Moreno documentary “Just a Girl Who Decided to Go for It,” which details the racist and sexist abuse Moreno experienced throughout her time in Hollywood.
“I’m just fed up,” Maris said. “If I’m not going to say anything now, when am I going to say something? I just want [writers] to think the next time they write a character like that. I’m speaking out for the younger actors coming up so they face even less of that than my generation has.”
With the privilege of having a successful career, Maris said she considered it her responsibility to publicly condemn these types of negative portrayals of Latinos. Or else, she says, how will the industry know that it needs to change?
Given the treatment of the character and Netflix’s poor response I would say they never intended for us to get that much of her back story. She was only their as a prop.— River Reyes (@Ubegawkgawk) November 12, 2021
“Sometimes people have to sit with the discomfort,” she told Variety. “I would hope they would rethink this. I would hope they would recognize the harm that it does to everyone. Both to people who are Latino and people who are not.”
Since Ada Maris spoke out, Netflix has both apologized and cut the character from the show (…which isn’t exactly progress). “We’re sorry that Ms. Maris had a negative experience, and this character will not appear in the series,” Netflix said in a statement.
Here’s a tip: next time, instead of cutting an offensive one-dimensional Latino character, add a fully-fleshed complex Latino character instead. There are better ways of correcting your mistakes than total erasure.
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