The One Day at a Time star opened up about white privilege while growing up Latina in Chicago and in Hollywood

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February 15, 2019 09:49 AM

Jada Pinkett Smith and Justina Machado are getting real about white privilege.

In a PEOPLE exclusive clip of Monday’s new Red Table Talk episode on Facebook Watch, the One Day at a Time actress said she had difficulty relating to people who didn’t understand what white privilege was.

“Somebody once said to me, ‘I’m white and I don’t get white privilege. I don’t get that.’ I didn’t know how to answer that,” Machado, 46, said.

She continued, “All I could say was, ‘Well, could you walk into a store and do they ask you if you need help?’ Because I’ve certainly walked into stores before and they never asked me if I needed help. ‘Have you been followed in the store?’ They did that a lot in Chicago.”

Machado has been outspoken about Latino representation in Hollywood, telling PEOPLE CHICA in February 2018, “We have to stop thinking that diversity is just black and white.”

Jada Pinkett Smith, Justina Machado
Noam Galai/Getty; J. Merritt/FilmMagic

“There is a whole lot in between. We have to start telling these stories the way these stories are really told. First off, we have to get the opportunities,” the Netflix star said. “You’d be amazed at how there are still no opportunities. It’s shameful and just like Gina [Rodriguez] said, ‘When you don’t see yourself up there, it’s devastating.’”

Machado waffled over whether to star in the reboot of One Day at a Time, which originally ran nine seasons from 1975 to 1984, but once she saw that the storyline didn’t play into Latino stereotypes, the actress made up her mind.

“I had a little reservation because I was hoping it wouldn’t turn into what we see sometimes, where we’re just the butt of the joke, where if we’re having a party [and] we have chiles hanging from the table. When I got the script, it was just so beautiful… so layered.”

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As a star in two Latino-centered shows, Jane the Virgin and One Day at a Time, the Puerto Rican actress is helping fire up a cultural conversation about the importance of diversity in Hollywood and accepts it as her personal duty.

“I do feel the responsibility but I welcome the responsibility,” she said. “I’m so grateful that I get to do something important with my art and open up doors and change Latino narratives — let people see themselves up there [on screen], let them identify with themselves up there and know that they can make it and do it also.”

Red Table Talk airs Mondays on Facebook Watch.

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