Jackie Cruz is tired of being boxed in as a Latina in Hollywood. Throughout an open essay on Refinery29, the Dominican actress breaks down how easy it is for Latinas to be typecast and how difficult it is to land opportunities in front of the camera, to the point that she’s often competed with Orange is the New Black co-star Diane Guerrero for the same roles.
“I don’t have to only be limited to roles where I have to pretend to have an accent or cross the border,” Cruz wrote.
The Screen Actors Guild-winner explains that she’s ready to shake Hollywood’s infatuation with stereotypes, and taking on “white girl roles” is the key to just that if you let her tell it. “I have another friend who’s Latina and tall like me — she’s from Cuba, and because there are so few roles for Latinas in Hollywood, we always find ourselves auditioning for the same thing,” she continued. “The other night on the phone she said, ‘You know what? We just need to get that white girl role.’ And I’m like ‘Yeah, that’s what we need to get, that white girl role!’ It sounds funny, but it’s like, the fact is that the white girl is always the lead, right? So the goal is to get that gig.”
Though Cruz isn’t afraid to speak up on the need for inclusion, she is by no means waiting on Tinseltown to get the memo. “I’ll get those stereotypical accented cross-the-border auditions, but then on the opposite end, there are tons of auditions for Latina characters that I still don’t book because I’m not the glamorous ‘Hollywood Latina type,'” she revealed. “Most casting directors are used to pretty, dark haired, petite girls like Eva Longoria and Salma Hayek. I don’t look like them. But you know what? That just means that I need to break some barriers, which is why I want to create my own production company. If you’re not going to hire me, I’m going to hire myself, and I’m going to write for myself. I’m going to show you that I can do it.”
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Read Jackie Cruz’s full essay here.