TVRA 4430 W
Reading Response #1
Words count 682
Mixed Race in Latinowood
In this article Mary Beltran, analyzes how Latinos are being represented in Hollywood. To do this, she focused on two Latinas actress Jessica Alba and Rosario Dawson. Although things have been changing, Hollywood is still a white dominated industry. Slowly, we are seeing changes but is not as diverse as it should be. However, some Latinos seem to be more accepted into the exclusive “club” with no problem such as; America Ferrera, Jenifer Lopez and Benicio Del Toro, (Pg. 248) while others have to struggle to find their way in.
It seem like Hollywood has its own definition of what Latinos should look like. Latin actors and actresses who are mixed with another race are more successful than Latinos that are not mixed. For many years, people did not know Jessica Alba`s ethnicity. She is considered to be ethnically “ambiguous”. Alba is a mix of Mexican, French- Canadian, Danish, English and Italian descent (pg. 248). She began acting as a teen. She is best known for playing Max Guevara in the science fiction television series Dark Angel (Pg.249). Just like Alba, Max had a Hispanic last name with mixed heritage. Although, the series only lasted for two seasons, Dark Angel brought visibility to Alba. Alba fit into the mold of what type of Latinas are accepted in Hollywood. She looks Hispanic but not too Hispanic, with dark hair and light tan skin tone. She is considered to be beautiful and sexy.
Rosario Dawson`s journey has been very different than Albans’s. Although, she is Latina she does not fit into the mold. She is Afro-Latina. Her ethnicity consists of Puerto Rican, Afro-Cuban, Irish and Native American. Dawson does not seem to be embraced in Hollywood like Alba. She started playing small roles. Dawson tend to be casted to play either Latinos or African Americans roles, while Alba tend to play roles where the ethnicity is unclear
Beltran also explained how both women are accepted in the Latino community. One thing that is not talked about is racism among Hispanics. Latinos demand inclusiveness but they do not practice it. It is rare to see Afro-Latinos in both media and film outlets. Afro-Latinos are underrepresented. This could be one of the reasons why Alba is more accepted in the community than Dawson is. Alba was awarded two ALMA (American Latino Media Arts), breakout star of the year and outstanding actress in a television series (pg. 257) both awards for the Dark Angel. Alba is always described as a sex symbol while Dawson is described as lovely (pg.263). Dawson may not receive the same acceptance from the Latino community as Alba does but she is well received in the African American community. Oddly enough, Dawson is considered to be a better actress than Alba.
Dawson is considered more “urban” than Alba (Pg. 260). This could be the reason why Alba is more likely to be cast to play the love interest of a white actor than Dawson. While, Dawson has been casted to play the love interest of African-Americans actors. She played the love interest of Will Smith in Men in Black II in 2002 and Seven Ponds 2008. Dawson has always embrace her “blackness” (pg.261). Since the beginning of her career she was open about her ethnicity compared to Alba. Whether she did it consciously or not, Alba did not always speak about her ethnicity. She starting opening up about the subject after she became famous. She has said that as a child she did not fit in due to her mixed ethnicity (pg.259). Some actors do not publically talk about their ethnicity because they do not want to be labeled.
Although, both women are mixed Latinas, they both are viewed differently in Hollywood. Alba`s fair skin fit into the mold of what Hollywood considers Latinos to look like. This allow her to play a non-Latino role but she is not white enough to play a white woman. While Dawson does not fit into that stereotype because there still are people who do not know that Latinos come in different shades.