Updated 10:20 AM EST, Mon, Jan 18, 2021

Casting Latinos in Films & TV: What is Hollywood Doing Wrong?

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When you think of Hollywood, you'd think of white actors by the dozens: after all, the glitz and glamour of stardom is still dominated by Caucasians.

Racism is frowned upon, but for African-American and Latino actors, they experience these things practically on a daily basis -- even Jennifer Lopez, who is a big star in her own right, had to play a Latina maid in the 2002 film, "Maid in Manhattan."

Even worse, sometimes Hollywood lets non-blacks play roles meant for blacks, and non-Latinos play the roles of Latinos. Nalip pointed out that in Argo, Ben Affleck played the roled of CIA Technical operations officer Tony Mendez.

Why give a Latino role to a non-Latino when there are a lot of good actors out there to play the part? Buzzfeed noted that it's time to give Latinos the roles they deserve, starting with Hollywood making an effort to understand culture as well.

Here are some things that Hollywood does wrong with treating character minorities:

  1. Latinos are always represented in a bad light. Affleck's role in "Argo" would have been great to give Latinos the benefit of starring in a role where they are educated and powerful, but no, Hollywood opts for them to be stuck in roles as gang members, killers, drug lords, and maids.
  2. Even Latinos are diverse, and Hollywood fails to show that. In every show where a Latino is cast, they are almost always tanned with wavy hair. There are also black Latinos, indigenous Latinos, Asian Latinos, etc. Where are they in film and TV?
  3. Accents are important as well. Much like how British and Australian actors drop their accents when they play the role of an American, Hollywood should note that Latin American countries have different accents as well. So, for a Brazilian to play a Colombia, he should take note of the accent as well and producers should hire an accent coach. Non-Latinos may not notice the difference, but the Latino population sure does. They also buy tickets and merch, so don't pass up on their insight.

The biggest problem, however, is stereotyping Latinos to fit in a Latin role. Hollywood fails to remember that every individual is complex -- while culture and family play a part, there is also individual weirdness or character quirks to make characters multidimensional. Where are the Latino punks and nerds?

Maybe it's time to hire more Latinos in the film industry -- not just actors, but screenwriters, directors, and producers as well.

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