With the 2016 Oscars fast approaching, conversation on Hollywood's lack of diversity is only getting louder. Since social media exploded with #OscarsSoWhite after the nominations were announced, the spotlight has been on hearing the voices of those who have broken barriers as minorities in the industry.
The New York Times' latest installment on the issue features 27 Hollywood players and their poignant thoughts on what it really feels like to fight for a place in the business. America Ferrera and Eva Longoria are two of the celebrities featured in the piece. Keep reading to find their quotes about being Latina in Hollywood.
- America on trying to land parts as a Latina: "I was 18 and putting myself on tape for a movie I really wanted. I got that phone call: They cast a Latino male in another role in the film; they're not looking to cast [a Latina]. So I defiantly bleached my hair blond, painted my face white and made the audition tape. I never heard back. I just remember feeling so powerless. What do you do when someone says, "Your color skin is not what we're looking for"? Let me tell you: Blond does not suit me. I try not to prove my point on audition tapes anymore."
- Eva on getting her foot on the door:"I didn't speak Spanish [growing up]. I'm ninth generation. I mean, I'm as American as apple pie. I'm very proud of my heritage. But I remember moving to L.A. and auditioning and not being Latin enough for certain roles. Some white male casting director was dictating what it meant to be Latin. He decided I needed an accent. He decided I should [have] darker-colored skin. The gatekeepers are not usually people of color, so they don't understand you should be looking for way more colors of the rainbow within that one ethnicity."
- America on refusing to play into stereotypes: "I had just won [a top award at Sundance], and [my manager] wanted me to audition for the Latina chubby girl in a pilot. She wasn't even the lead; she was just the sidekick, with the same joke in every scene. I said, 'I'm not going in for that.' When I ultimately left him, he [told] another of my reps, 'Somebody should tell that girl that she has an unrealistic idea of what she can accomplish in this industry.' That was someone I was paying to represent me."
- Eva on fighting for diversity in TV: "I was developing a medical show, and the lead was a Latina heart surgeon. It didn't go forward [for various reasons]. Networks say, 'We're on board with diversity,' and they'll develop it, but they seldom program it. We don't have enough people in the decision-making process. We have decision influencers, which is a new thing. There's one brown person in the room that goes, 'I like that idea.'"
- Eva on her skills being questioned: "As a director, I definitely feel the boys' club. There's still that, 'She can't possibly know what she's talking about.' It's always been meant as a compliment, but [crew members] go: 'You know what you're doing. Wow. You know lenses. Oh, my God, you know shots?' Yes, I know where to put the camera. You just go, 'Do you say to the dude directors, 'I'm pleasantly surprised you knew what you were doing'?'"
- America on being asked to "sound more Latina": "My very first audition ever, I was about 16, and the casting director [for a commercial] said, 'Can you do it again but sound more Latino?' I had no idea what she was talking about. 'You mean you want me to speak in Spanish?' She's like: 'No. Do it in English but just sound more Latino.' I genuinely didn't realize until later that she was asking me to speak English with a broken accent. It confused me, because I thought, I am Latino, so isn't this what a Latino sounds like? From the get-go of my career I thought, There's a certain box or a certain way that you're seen, which I didn't feel growing up."
- Eva on the ultimate victory: "On Telenovela, it was refreshing for casting to go: 'Eva, you're Latino heavy. We need to cast one white male somewhere in there.'"