Donald Glover, also known as rapper Childish Gambino, hired mostly black writers for what is now one of the most watched shows on television—Atlanta. In a time where people of color (read: Latinos) are screaming from the margins for more visibility in areas across entertainment, which is to say, pleading for “the roles that are simply not there,” it’s a wonder why Latinos who do have a seat at the big table aren’t hiring Latinos to help tell our stories.
It’s no secret: Hollywood is absolutely obsessed with drug lord sagas. From City of God to Scarface, casting Latino actors as these ruthless, villainous killing machines determined to maintain multibillion dollar narcotic enterprises remains an age-old favorite of mainstream television, leaving said characters destitute of any human complexity. No need to remind everyone that is precisely the problem, as having a non-POC writing a POC’s narrative leaves room for the erroneous white perspective.
According to Deadline, Terence Winter (Sopranos, Boardwalk Empire) has been tapped to write and executive produce the high-profile HBO film about notorious drug lord Griselda Blanco, to be played by Miss #AllLivesMatter herself, Jennifer Lopez. (Still love you girl, let’s talk.)
— Deadline Hollywood (@Deadline) September 29, 2016
Griselda Blanco went down in history as the queen of narcos-trafficking. She was also a Colombian kingpin of the Medellín Cartel, and a pioneer in the cocaine underworld of Miami during the ’70s and ’80s. She even had several lovers, some of whom she allegedly had assassinated. And then there’s her rumored bisexuality. When you couple the complexity of Blanco’s persona with the glaring window of opportunity to dissect the politics of the drug epidemic and how it affected communities of color stateside and beyond, the possibilities of inclusion as it pertains to brown and black voices are endless.
But no. We want to let white folks tell our stories like in Chávez and Orange is the New Black, and then pretend to be satisfied with the minimum. Yet, in the same breath, complain we’re not being adequately represented on screen. So, which is it?
The silver lining: Jenny from the block is executive-producing the HBO biopic alongside Benny Medina via Nuyorican Productions. Or perhaps all of that is to gloss over the fact that a mainstream network hustled a Bronx-born Boricua in the name of Latinidad? Hope not.