La La Anthony, Priyanka Chopra & More Celebs on the Importance of Breaking Racial Barriers in Hollywood
LA LA ANTHONY
Despite having a starring role in POWER and Furlough, the Puerto-Rican actress still faces the challenge of finding her place in Hollywood as an Afro-Latina, she shared in her interview with Latina. "I definitely don't feel like I'm what Hollywood thinks of when they think of a Latina actress at all," Anthony told the magazine. "They can't wrap their minds around it. I actually speak Spanish fluently. The industry just hasn't been thinking outside the box when it comes to Latina women."
She continued: "We come in all colors. My grandfather was extremely dark and from Puerto Rico, but his brother had blond hair and blue eyes. There are so many different shades, and I think Hollywood has yet to realize that."
While the Baywatch star recalled a moment when she and Master of None star Aziz Ansari marveled at how much Hollywood has diversified while attending a Met Gala afterparty, the actress admits there's still a way to go. "People want to put you in a box. When I started out, people at auditions would be like, 'Can you use your Indian accent?' And I'm like, 'I am speaking in my Indian accent. This is how we speak in modern India!' " she revealed to PEOPLE. A Bollywood megastar before she found fame in Hollywood, she says she is focused on playing strong female characters. "I love playing tough — well, not tough, but strong and powerful characters," she said. "Whether it's being a homemaker, whether it’s being a daughter, I just love characters that give me depth and the ability to do more."
"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,' " the Orange Is the New Black star wrote in an essay for Refinery29. "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."
Looking back at her historic 2002 Best Actress Oscar win, Berry — who dedicated the award "every nameless, faceless woman of color that now has a chance because this door tonight has been opened" — told Teen Vogue that what first felt like a major milestone now feels almost meaningless. "It's troubling to say the least," she began, adding that the 2015 Oscar race, in which no actors of color were nominated for major awards, "was probably one of my lowest professional moments." That feeling, she said, left her "profoundly hurt" and "saddened." But she also admitted "it inspired me to get involved in other ways, which is why I want to start directing, I want to start producing more. I want to start being a part of making more opportunities for people of color."
"Here we are telling a story of how a bunch of rebels, who are very different from each other, put those differences aside and work together, and how much of their strength is based on that diversity," he told Esquire of starring in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. "So I think it's really cool to be part of this. And, again, I think it's the audience sending a message, and those who are making films are reacting to that. That is exciting. It's the audiences who have to shake the cinema to get what they want to see."
With many stars in Hollywood feeling like Latinos are misrepresented, Leyva — who stars in Orange Is the New Black and Spider-Man: Homecoming — feels "fortunate" to be a real-life example of how the community can deliver more. "Latinas are still, unfortunately — or fortunately for some — just looked at as sex objects, as people that maybe are just there to show their curves, to make people laugh by their mispronunciations of names or words," she shared with PEOPLE Chica. "We're actors; we're trained. I love the fact that I can play Gloria Mendoza, a prisoner and now be in Spider-Man: Homecoming as a teacher."
He may have initially received criticism for taking on the role of a drug dealer in 2016's Moonlight — which earned him an Oscar — but Ali stressed the importance of delivering multi-dimensional performances as a black actor in Hollywood. He told TV Line: "As a black man, it's very difficult for you to feel good about contributing in that way, and sort of already enabling and supporting certain stereotypes, but with [Moonlight], it's a project that is written from the inside out, people who have had these experiences and know these people as full human beings."
"I look for work that makes us feel less alone not by forcing us to be part of one kind of hero's journey, but realizing that heroes come in many shapes and sizes and hues and genders and gender fluidities," the Scandal actress shared at The Women of Sundance Brunch in 2017.
"As a black trans person I have to work twice as hard, sometimes three or four times as hard as anybody else," said Cox, speaking at Forbes' 4th annual Women's Summit. "I've never felt angry, I've just accepted that I have to work harder." And she has. Not only has Cox starred in Orange Is the New Black, but she also became the first-ever transgender star of a TV series, in 2017's Doubt.
"It's [still] difficult for people who look not like the status quo in this country to get great roles. And it's happening a little bit more, and I feel humbled, honored and blessed to have the opportunity to do that," Isaac said at the 2016 Golden Globes. "The people that cast films and TV shows, hopefully they'll be able to see past their limited ideas of what ethnicity is."
"I became an actor to change the way I grew up," said the Jane the Virgin star, who won a Golden Globe for the comedy series in 2015. "The way I grew up, I never saw myself on screen. I have two older sisters. One's an investment banker. The other one is a doctor, and I never saw us being played as investment bankers. And I realized how limiting that was for me. I would look at the screen and think, 'Well, there's no way I can do it, because I'm not there.' " The actress has certainly worked her way up: her Golden Globe-winning turn in Jane the Virgin aside, Rodriguez also joined a star-studded cast in 2016's Deepwater Horizon.
She may be viewed as one of the industry's most empowering Latina stars, but it wasn't always that way for the Orange Is the New Black actress, who opened up to Vivala about the hardships of being an Afro-Latina in Hollywood. "We have to be 'Fake Latinas,' " Polanco said about fitting in with stereotypes. "And here's the thing about 'Fake Latinas' – when you look at Latinas who are succeeding in Hollywood, they're super thin and you really can't tell if she's Latina or not." She continued: "I was growing up and not thinking that I was good enough. I just thought, 'Oh my God, if only I had lighter eyes. If only I had lighter hair. If only I was skinny. Oh my God, if I was a size 0, I know I would get more work. I could play an Italian right now! This is why you're not getting a job.' " Now proud of her features, the actress has embraced her diversity and wants to encourage her fans to do the same. "Something I'm working on is #SelfLovery. This is this whole project that I'm working on where we're including men and women, to just take a moment to self-analyze and just say, 'I love myself,' " she said.