Latinas in Hollywood have typically been portrayed as either the “Spicy Latina” or the maid and now Netflix has announced it’s dropping a Latina role as a housekeeper following backlash. The upcoming Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother) series Uncoupled dropped the role of housekeeper Carmen following complaints from veteran Mexican American actress Ada Maris (The Brothers Garcia, Mayans) after she was sent the script. The series stars Harris as a successful professional in his 40s living in New York who is figuring out the dating scene after Colin, his husband of 17 years, abruptly leaves. Carmen is the role of his housekeeper and when Netflix announced supporting cast members on Oct. 25 that character was not among the roles.
“When I opened it and saw that it wasn’t even funny — it was hurtful and derogatory — I was shocked because I walked in expecting something very different given the way things are nowadays and the progress we’ve made,” Maris told Variety. The character showed up in two scenes and Maris took issue with her broken English, sharing how Carmen is introduced as being “hysterical” following what she believes is a burglary in Michael’s (Harris) home. “Mister, I just get here and they stole!” The broken English continued in her next line: “They stole! They rob you! I don’t know how they get in.”
In the second scene, Carmen takes a glass that Michael has just washed at a sink and says “No, I do that. You don’t clean good, you always leave a ring.”
She penned an open letter about the character to Harris, 48, and the show’s co-creator Darren Star, Variety reported. “You are modern gay men. How would you like to watch or play an outdated, offensively stereotypical gay part?” Maris said. Harris is one of five executive producers on the series, along with Jax Media’s Tony Hernandez and Lilly Burns, Star and Jeffrey Richman. Harris is not writer for the show and he was not involved in the casting process for the Carmen role, Variety reported.
In a statement to Variety, Netflix apologized to Maris and said the character was no longer part of the series.“We’re sorry that Ms. Maris had a negative experience, and this character will not appear in the series,” a Netflix spokesman said.
The idea of playing a housekeeper was reason enough to carefully consider the role for Maris however she shared that she was open if it felt authentic and funny. At the start of her career she played Maria Conchita Lopez, a maid with a developed storyline in What a Country! (1986-87), a show centered on various people studying to pass the citizenship test. She told NBC News that she’s happy to see the increasing number of roles for Latinxs and representation through shows like Gentefied and One Day at a Time. Maris is also set to reprise her role as Sonia Garcia in the upcoming The Brothers Garcia reboot The Garcias on HBO Max.
Her criticism received support from the Latinx community and fellow Latinxs in the industry including young actress Ayva Severy who is set to play Andrea Garcia in The Garcias opposite Maris. Severy posted on Instagram, “So so very proud of my tv grandma Ada Maris @amaris613 for speaking up and being a strong, much needed voice.”
It is exactly the younger generation that Maris said inspired her to speak up so that they wouldn’t have to face the struggles her own generation faced in the industry. “I’m just fed up,” Maris told Variety. “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.”