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Actor Luis Antonio Ramos left Los Angeles five years ago after decades of being typecast. “I played bad guys in every show on every network. It was just sucking away my soul,” said Ramos, who appeared on ABC’s recently canceled drama “Lucky 7.”
A recent study by the National Hispanic Media Coalition indicates just how discouraged Latinos are about how they’re portrayed on television. Only 5 percent of those surveyed see Latinos frequently in roles as doctors, nurses, lawyers or judges while 64 percent saw themselves reflected frequently as gardeners.
“Would we say Al Pacino can’t play a certain character because his name is Al Pacino? Of course not,” said actress Rita Moreno, the only Hispanic to win an Oscar, Emmy, Tony and Grammy.
Roberto Orci, chairman of the Association of Hispanic Advertising Agencies, said it isn’t just about representation, it’s about telling stories that Latinos can relate to.
Orci, who runs Acento Advertising in Santa Monica, Calif., said his company recently worked with Disney on how to sell its animated film “Brave” to Hispanics.
“On the surface, there’s nothing relevant about a red-headed lass,” he said. “But young Hispanics want to be empowered and make their own way while their family wants them to stick with tradition. That’s how we were able to market the film to them.”
There are signs that network TV is starting to realize they’re squandering a great opportunity. Several shows premiering in midseason will have juicy roles for Latinas, including “Killer Women,” based on a Spanish telenovela. Eva Longoria is in talks to star in a new law series, “Vega v. Vega,” and her production company is working on “Trust,” an hour-long soap based on a Colombian drama.
One of the highlights of this still young season: Fox’s new action comedy “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” actually features two Hispanic female characters.
“It never happens that you look over and there’s another Latina actress on the same show with you,” said Stephanie Beatriz who plays Det. Rosa Diaz on the Fox sitcom. “Plus, we’re not doing accents or anything spicy.”
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