Netflix Stars Discuss Latinx Representation in Hollywood

We’re approaching the tail-end of Latinx Heritage Month—more commonly known as Hispanic Heritage Month

Photo: Unsplash/@freestocks

Photo: Unsplash/@freestocks

We’re approaching the tail-end of Latinx Heritage Month—more commonly known as Hispanic Heritage Month. But brands aren’t showing any signs of slowing up in rolling out their Latinx-focused campaigns. Netflix released short videos on Tuesday featuring several of their Latinx actors from their original programming.

Cast members from Orange Is the New Black, On My Block and One Day at a Time are featured in two videos discussing the term Latinx (versus Latino/a and Hispanic), typecasting and disrupting the typical roles played by Latinx actors in Hollywood.

In one video, Orange is the New Black’s Selenis Leyva and Jackie Cruz chat with Jessica Marie Garcia and Jason Genao of On My Block about the roles so often reserved for Latinx actors.

“I’m, typically, the only Latina friend or any other color friend, in a white family,” shares Garcia. Leyva, who is half-Cuban, half-Dominican, responds to Garcia by saying, “I’ve played every prostitute,” which is indicative of the limited roles Latinxs and, more so, Afro-Latinxs are offered.

“I don’t have a problem with playing the maid. I don’t have a problem with playing a prostitute. I have a problem with—that’s all you think I can play,” Leyva adds.

Cruz, co-signs Leyva, and adds, “I also played inmate, rape victim, heroin addict.” “But I’m here, you know? I’m here and I’m thankful for Orange Is the New Black for changing the game right now.”

To play devil’s advocate, Leyva asks, “But has it?” Although she’s been on five seasons of the award-winning Netflix hit, she poses an important question on whether or not things have really shifted for Latinx actors since the show debuted.

“I think it has,” Genao says. “It went from Orange Is the New Black to On My Block.”

In the next video, Isabella Gomez of One Day at a Time breaks down the term Latinx. “So Latinx is an all-encompassing term because when it’s a group of Latinos, how it used to be, even if it was women, it was Latinos. There was a default to the male. And Latinx encompasses not only women and men but also all sexualities.”

The comments section of the Netflix post featuring this video, like the first, is filled with those who agree with the points made, but also those that disagree. Definitions surrounding people of Latin American descent is always a hot topic, and with newer terms like Latinx some feel our terms and language are being further complicated.

One commenter even called Latinx a “gringo terminology.”

The videos also sparked debates on Twitter as to the diversity of the Latinx actors featured. With Afro-Latinx representation being demanded by media professionals, creatives and activists, among others, the videos left them wondering: Where are the darker-skinned Latinxs?

While they may not be perfect, both videos are continuing the conversations being had across online spaces about representation, cultural nuances and terminology.

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