Celebrities have become a lot more vocal about the lack of diversity and representation in Hollywood, since campaigns like #OscarsSoWhite and #LatinosLeftOut began. And grown-ish star Francia Raisa has a lot to say regarding the lack of roles offered to Latinx women herself. In a recent interview with Bustle, the 29-year-old gets real about the diversity struggles she still deals with today and the not-so-pretty stereotypes she’s had to endure as an actress of Mexican and Honduran descent.
Raisa, who plays Zoey’s Cuban-American, Republican roommate Ana Torres on Grown-ish, has experienced an unfortunate amount of of stereotyping when it comes to castings. Production companies used to specifically request actors of a certain race, making it difficult to find roles that worked for Latinas or other women of color. These days though, there are are more ‘open ethnicity’ castings that provide opportunities for Latinas to audition for roles, but the system still has it’s flaws. In fact, the lack of representation many times leads to being stereotyped. Raisa has even been asked to use a “Mexican accent,” which sadly doesn’t surprise us at all. Its an issue that’s far too common in Hollywood.
“There are things that still need to change, stereotypes that still exist,” she says. “Productions are still asking for Mexican accents, and I’m like, ‘Well, this is my Mexican accent.’ Not all of us have broken English.”
Instead of giving in to the stereotypes, Raisa wants to be proactive behind the scenes and take up directing and producing. She wants to tell the stories that actually resonate with women of color versus waiting for someone else to finally do it. The young actress has even thought about writing a script around the history of Mexican-Americans during the civil rights movement, like the famous Mendez v. Westminster case that ruled forced segregation of Mexican-Americans in “Mexican-only” public schools unconstitutional. Not only would that create an opportunity for viewers to develop a deeper understanding of Mexican-American and Latino history but it will also create jobs and roles for other Latino actors.
“I don’t want to wait around to see if things change in the industry. I want to make things happen with my own hands,” she says. “And Eva Longoria, Gina Rodriguez, America Ferrera, and the rest of the women in the #FiercelyLatina movement have made me feel like, ‘OK, you can do it.’”
Do things still need to change in Hollywood when it comes to diversity and representation? Absolutely. But having people in the biz like Raisa, gives us hope that things can and will turn around. Powerful lead roles for women of color need to be created because now we refuse to just wait around any more — we demand it.