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John Leguizamo Urges Hollywood to Value Latino Talent

Actor, comedian and activist John Leguizamo is calling on Hollywood to value and support talent from Latin America.

In an open letter published by the LA Times, he highlights how the current inequities we see on screen, such as lack of representation, trace back to the early days of Hollywood where Mexican actors were often cast as extras while their stories were appropriated:

“No cowboy hats were being worn in England, Ireland, Germany or the 13 colonies. But they were worn in Mexico. And yet, who were the leads in the westerns?”

He notes that we regularly see white actors cast in lead roles that should’ve gone to members of the Latin American community – for example Al Pacino as a Cuban in Scarface and Ben Affleck as CIA operative Tony Mendez in Argo.

Leguizamo shares that Hollywood is rife with colourism today because while we do see white-passing Latinos on screen, we so rarely see “Indigenous Latinos. I mean Aztec, Maya, Inca or Taíno. I mean Afro-Latino or any mix thereof.”

He powerfully argues that since Latinos make up nearly 20% of the U.S. populations, “for every 10 characters, two should be Latino.”

But it’s also about much more than representation on screen. Leguizamo is urging Hollywood to ensure the decision-makers and the people behind-the-scenes are Latino too.

“For every 10 executives, two should be Latino. For every 10 crew members, two should be Latino. For every 10 films, two should be about Latinos.”

Read his full op-ed HERE. 

(Feature Image Credit: Tsuni-USA/Shutterstock)

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