Friday, October 23, 2009

Good Housekeeping - The Domesticated Latina

To this day, Latina actors face discrimination when it comes to what roles they are selected to portray. While many would like to acquire the female lead, it seems that the only jobs that they can book are for the position of the maid. For some reason, American society has the notion that all Latinas are domesticated women. Numerous people do not believe that Latina women have the ability to possess jobs, such as being a lawyer or an executive. However, Caucasian women in the United States frequently have these professions.

Some Latina women, who audition and do not get the part that they had hoped for, are also United States citizens from birth. Referring to Hollywood’s view on Latinas, Lupe Ontiveros, a well-versed actress who estimates to have played the role of the Latina maid between 150-300 times, states that “It’s their continued perspective of who we are. They don’t know we’re very much a part of this country and that we make up every part of this country” (1). Lupe is even forced to put on an accent that her family lost over a generation ago in order to be the maid. If Americans want to make the argument that solely Latinas who are not proficient in English are getting the roles of the house cleaner, this completely removes the validity of their case.

The stereotype of the Latina maid is filled by others besides Ontiveros (which is hard to believe since she seems to have taken up the majority of the roles over the year). Many Latina maids serve as background noise with the occasional witty foreign comment or to fall in love with the leading (white) man, as is the case in movies such as "Maid in Manhattan" and "Spanglish." In the TV show "Will and Grace", Karen's maid, Rosario, plays up the stereotype in a different way. She is mistreated by Karen with all kinds of stereotypes thrown out, speaks in a thick accent, and is never to be found outside of uniform.

(watch up to 2:05)

It seems quite absurd to judge the talent that someone has based on the way he or she looks. One would think that the goal of casting directors would be to give the position to the person who deserves it the most, not to risk a successful production based on a fictitious stereotype.

1 Navarro, Mireya. "Trying to Get Beyond the Role of the Maid." The New York Times.

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