Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Eva Mendes, Ethnic Studies Critic, on Rita Hayworth and More...

It's bad news when Latina starlets horn in on an Ethnic Studies turf--profe's gonna lose! In any event, as a fair amount of Tex[t]-Mex dwells on the figuration of Latinas/os in Hollywood, an excerpt from Eva Mendes's conversation, forthcoming from Interview magazine but available in part now from the Huffington Post, seems in order:
DC: I have a question for you that's a little more complicated. Do you find it a challenge being Latin in Hollywood?

EM: I would never call it a challenge. I think being a woman in Hollywood is a big enough challenge. It really is, man. I don't want to be one of those people who complain. But the lack of roles out there--it's unbelievable. I read a lot of scripts. I believe you've got to read one that you know you're not going to do, because you've got to educate yourself on what's out there to make the best decision for you. So it's challenging being a woman. Then there are other kinds of obstacles that come your way, but there are many times that being Latin has actually helped me, being a Cuban-American has helped me.

DC: I think it makes you seem very modern and real.

EM: Absolutely. Because whether you like this next statement or not, we are the future. I mean, we're all just mixing together that much more. We are the future in that sense. I don't mean Latinos, I just mean ethnic diversity. I speak English without an accent, and I speak Spanish without an accent. I really do have the best of both worlds. What makes it frustrating is when a director or a studio head doesn't see me for the same part that they'll see, let's say, Drew Barrymore for. Drew's a great friend of mine. But it's like, "No, we want more of an American type of girl." And it's like, American has opened up. I'm an American girl, born and raised. I mean, I was into New Kids on the Block, just like Drew! Actually, I shouldn't say that. I don't know if she was. I'm going to text her on that one.

DC: I was reading recently about Rita Hayworth.

EM: Oh! Love her film Gilda [1946].

DC: She was half-Latin, and she changed her name to her mother's maiden name. Her mother actually was Irish-American, and her last name was Hayworth. She also plucked her hairline so she would look more aristocratic. A lot has changed in 60 years. Back then, I don't think anybody was really ready for somebody with a Latin last name. Obviously, so much has changed. I was wondering if you feel, like, "Yeah, it's changed, but it hasn't."

EM: No, I feel it's definitely changed. Thank God. We are moving forward. Every time there's another successful Latin actress, that's just better for everyone involved. Now, I want to see more Asian girls. People ask me if it's difficult being Cuban-American in this industry. I say, "You know what? Not as difficult as it is being an Asian girl." We have so many Asian girls in this country, and they're so not represented up on the screen.

The Huffington Post, source.

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