John Leguizamo
Photo courtesy of Hispanicize

“We need a better pipeline for Latinos in movies, TV shows, and plays. We need a system for our stories and our projects. We need executives to provide the green light.”

In an open letter published by the Los Angeles Times, the Colombian actor and film producer John Leguizamo got into detail about what Hollywood is really like. He gave examples of how it used to be — and why it’s urgent to change this right now. 

Colorism in Hollywood

John Leguizamo gave examples to those who still believe that Latin-led movies would underperform. 

He pointed out how if it’s the same storyline with brown characters, instead of a “big white” film, it would still be a hit, and he doesn’t shy away from calling out the need for casting brown Latinos, as opposed to white-passing Latinxs. 

“I’m not talking about white or white-passing Latinos. I mean Indigenous Latinos. I mean Aztec, Maya, Inca, or Taíno,” he says in the letter. “I mean Afro-Latino or any mix thereof. More often than not, the Latinos you see onscreen are white or white-passing — because Hollywood is drenched in colorism.”

The lack of Latinx representation

Leguizamo goes further into colorism and the lack of actual Latinx representation. 

He called out the casting of Spaniards like Antonio Banderas and Javier Bardem rather than actual Latinxs, noting that Spaniards are not Latinos. “Spaniards are white Europeans. Latinos were born in Latin America or had ancestors who were born there. For the most part, we are mixed-race people from all across Latin America. Well, all of Latin America except Argentina, which largely eradicated its Indigenous people. So there! I’ve broken it all down for you.” 

The need for more Latinx figureheads

Towards the end of the letter, Leguizamo offers a solution: we need more Latinx figureheads in Hollywood production — from writers and directors to executives.

“There’s a fix for this: Cast more Latinos! We are nearly 20% of the population, so for every ten characters, two should be Latino,” he concludes. “For every ten executives, two should be Latino. For every ten crew members, two should be Latino. For every ten films, two should be about Latinos.”

And he’s not wrong. We hope to see more Latinx Hollywood stars step up and discuss this ongoing issue regarding the lack of Latinx representation.