Gina Torres Calls Out 'Systemic' Prejudice In Hollywood

Watch the "Suits" star break down Hollywood's diversity problem.

Finding success as an actress wasn't easy for Gina Torres, particularly when it came to navigating numerous barriers she faced in the industry due to her racial background. 

The Cuban-American "Suits" star looked back on the many obstacles in her 25-year career as an actress during a conversation with HuffPost Live on Tuesday, and explained the coded language she often heard after being turned down for a role.  

There are too many to count. I have been doing this for 25 years, and in that time span, there are way too many to count. And they're very slick about it. They can't really say that out loud, but you know what it is because they go a "different way." And then you see it done and you see what the different way was each and every time. And it was the white way.

But she says she stayed resilient despite the hurdles, and looked to trailblazing actresses of color like Rita Moreno and Diahann Carroll for inspiration.

"I could crawl up into a ball in a corner and cry, or I could just go to the next one and prove them wrong. And here I am sitting with you, 25 years later," she told host Caroline Modarressy-Tehrani.

Having experienced the lack of diversity in the film and TV industry firsthand, Torres said she's glad to finally see people taking the issue seriously. 

"We've been talking about change for the last 100 years, honestly -- you know, whether it's the images that are put out there or the lack of images that are put out there, and it's time," she said. "Of course it's changed, but has it changed as rapidly as we would like it to change? No. You're up against a great deal of learned behavior, a great deal of a systemic kind of prejudice. That is hard to unravel."

While the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced a new pledge to increase diversity among Academy members last month, not every step towards inclusivity may have to be so prescriptive. Torres urged both writers and casting directors to simply broaden their perspectives.

"It's not that you have to write something black or write something Latino -- just write something and hire the actor. Bring all the actors in, not just white," Torres said. "Don't just assume that because it's not specifically white or black that a person of color can't play that part, because that's obscene and that's absurd. There are so many gifted people out there of color."

Watch the full HuffPost Live conversation with actress Gina Torres here

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