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Rubén Blades: Hollywood Views ‘Us As Latino Actors And Not As Actors'

“If the role doesn’t say ‘Pepe,’ you just don’t get the call.”

Rubén Blades wants the entertainment industry to stop viewing him as a “Latino actor” and start seeing him just as an actor. 

The "Fear The Walking Dead" star spoke to The Huffington Post recently about the discrimination he’s faced in Hollywood, and the industry’s practice of typecasting actors based on their ethnic and racial backgrounds.

“Basically, I would like to be considered for roles that are well-written,” the Panamanian-born actor told HuffPost. “I think that part of the problem that we’ve had as actors is that they insist on looking at us as Latino actors and not as actors, period.”

Blades went on to explain that as an actor with Latino roots he’s generally only seriously considered to play Latino characters -- an experience he says he shares with too many Latinos in Hollywood. 

Blades plays Daniel Salazar on the AMC prequel spin-off of the hit “The Walking Dead” series. 
Blades plays Daniel Salazar on the AMC prequel spin-off of the hit “The Walking Dead” series. 

“If the role doesn’t say ‘Pepe,’ you just don’t get the call,” he told HuffPost. “I think it’s a problem that one is not considered for certain roles because of their background." 

Blades adds that typecasting impacts people across the entertainment industry, not just actors. 

"I will tell you this: Arturo Sandoval is a very good musician. And all of a sudden Arturo Sandoval, who can write scores for films is not going to be considered to write certain scores for films unless it’s a salsa score, and the presumption is that [it’s] because he’s a Latino musician. And the moment that they add that little tag on you, that’s it. You’re excluded from the discussion. That’s the issue.”

I think that part of the problem that we’ve had as actors is that they insist on looking at us as Latino actors and not as actors, period.

However, Blades says he isn’t opposed to taking on roles written with Latinos in mind, so long as the character is well-developed and nuanced. He currently stars on “Fear The Walking Dead” as Daniel Salazar, a Salvadoran barbershop owner with a complicated past. 

“It’s a very interesting role in that it’s very complex,” Blades said. “He’s not a perfect person. He’s not someone who one can very readily define. He is, again, a person that has had a very difficult past. And that makes for a very interesting effort to interpret someone who is trying to create a new future for himself. These tortured characters are, I think, an actor’s dream. These are the things that make you want to act. It’s not a very simple, one-dimensional type of character, [it’s] someone who has a tremendous amount of layers, and personality."

Fear The Walking Dead” premieres Sun., April. 10 at 9:00p.m. EST on AMC.

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