John Leguizamo is sharing his experience with casting as a Latino actor.
The “Encanto” star told the Academy Award’s “Seen” that he “stayed out of the sun” so he would get more parts.
“I definitely would not go in the sun for years. It was a conscious thing because I could work,” Leguizamo said.
He elaborated, “And all the Latinos that made it so far, a lot of them were all light-skinned. What happened to all the Afro-Latinos and the majority of indigenous Latinos? They don’t get a shot, you know. So, there’s a lot of things we got to deal with in Hollywood, and we got to fix, and we got to speak out and we got to speak up.”
Leguizamo expressed the issues with the lack of diverse Latino representation in Hollywood.
“How do you create a Latin star in America when the roles are one-dimensional and not worthy of awards?” he said. “The ugly question is, why are Latin people not succeeding? What’s the ugly question? Are we not smart enough? Not talented enough? Not good-looking enough? Not hardworking enough? No, none of those stereotypes and racist ideas because nobody tries harder with less access.”
The Colombian-born actor has stood up for Latinx performers before, boycotting the 2020 Emmys due to their lack of Latinx nominees.
“So not only are we invisible, but when we are seen, it’s a negative portrayal,” he continued. “Things are improving. I think COVID made us really look at ourselves in America. Black Lives Matter was a huge awakening for America, a reboot for America to look at themselves and see what’s going on. I think everybody’s trying to do the right thing and hire many more people of colour. What I want to see, I want to see 20 per cent of the roles in front of the camera and the crew. I’m not asking for extra. I just want what’s due to us.”
Leguizamo knows he has “benefited from being light-skinned” and remembers one studio executive told him, “Latin people don’t want to see Latin people.”
The actor hopes to help change the racial injustices by running for governor of the Academy.
“You have to step up and make a change and change it from within,” he said. “I feel like if you’ve achieved a certain amount of success, it’s your duty to give back. I don’t want any kid to go through what I went through. I don’t want any Latin kid to go through what I went through. I don’t want any white kid, Black kid, Asian kid [to go through what I went through].”
He concluded, “There’s so much great talent out there. I want to be that studio exec that gets their material and their product green-lit.”