Gina Torres is making history with USA’s new Suits spin-off Pearson. The series, which Torres stars in and co-executive produces, is the first to center and be created around an Afro-Latina, Essence reports.
“It’s overwhelming,” she told the brand prior to a screening of the series’ first episode. “When you start out as an actress, you really just wanna work and keep it honed in and personal. I want to be a good role model for my daughter, first and foremost, and for my parents who came to this country, committed to a dream and to instilling that dream to their children. [Because] I know my daughter is not the only little girl watching; and my parents, who are now watching from above, weren’t the only set of parents out there watching and looking forward to seeing a future in which they and their children are represented.”
The daughter of Cuban immigrants, Torres has already broken barriers in the film and television industries, having to educate both industry insiders and audiences that Blackness and Latinidad aren’t mutually exclusive.
“Hollywood likes everything in a neat little box,” she shared with HuffPost. “They have operated in that way for many, many, many, many years and what happens is that Afro-Latinos don’t fit into a box they fit into all the boxes, and I think people are really trying to, starting rather to, realize as we go into this incredibly sort of global society with social media and all the coverage, and looking all over the world and getting a closer look, that we’re just as varied in the Latino community as anywhere else in the world. They’re just starting to figure that out. I think slowly but surely they will embrace it.”
Whether they’ve embraced it or not, the Cuban-American actress hasn’t waited around for them to do so. Her career spans over two decades, beginning in daytime soaps like One Life to Live and expanding to roles in Alias, Firefly, Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, Cleopatra 2525, and The Matrix sequels, to name a few. In 2011, Suits debuted, featuring Torres as high-powered Manhattan attorney Jessica Pearson. After a few seasons, she left the legal drama as a series regular in 2016. Torres conceptualized and pitched the spin-off to USA. Now, viewers get to learn more about Pearson as she navigates Chicago politics.
“I love being [able] to executive produce this show,” she told the audience at Essence Fest, “to be part of the storytelling and making sure that my vision – the truth I see in the world – is put on the screen.”
The hour-long television series premieres on July 17 on USA.