When La La Anthony first stepped in front of the camera as an MTV VJ in the early 2000s, she was known by her maiden name Vasquez. But nearly two decades later, the actress says she struggles with being viewed as Latina in the industry.
The “Power” star, who is Puerto Rican, recently spoke to Latina magazine about the challenges she’s faced as an Afro-Latina in Hollywood and why it’s so hard to be cast as a 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, in an interview published Wednesday. “They are imagining a different look, a different vibe. People still tell me, ‘You speak Spanish? You’re Spanish? You’re Puerto Rican?’ They can’t wrap their minds around it.”
The Latino ethnicity’s racial diversity is vast, and that’s something Anthony believes Hollywood doesn’t understand.
“The industry just hasn’t been thinking outside the box when it comes to Latina women,” the 38-year-old star said. “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.”
“It is challenging, but all I can continue to do is try out for the roles and show them, ‘Hey, we come in all shades and with all hair textures and all colors and all everything!’,” she added.
“Orange is the New Black” star Dascha Polanco recently also spoke about the challenges she’s faced as as Afro-Latina in Hollywood during an interview with Vivala in June. The actress told the outlet she’s often felt the need to hide her Afro-Dominican features to land a role.
“We have to be ‘fake Latinas,’” Polanco told Vivala about the type of Latina stars she feels the industry looks for. “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.”
Anthony and Polanco aren’t alone, either. Take a look at 9 Afro-Latino stars who’ve spoken about the reality of being black and Latino in the entertainment industry below.