“Riverdale’s” Camila Mendes has been told she doesn’t look “Latina enough” by casting directors, and this needs to stop
Unfortunately, and despite recent progress, racial discrimination is still very much alive in Hollywood. In an interview with People.com, Riverdale’s Camila Mendes got real about being Latina in the industry. As in, being dismissed by casting directors who still want to typecast based on stereotypes, as opposed to complex, nuanced portrayals of human beings.
Despite the fact that Mendes was born to Brazilian parents and describes herself as a “full-blooded Brazilian” who speaks Portuguese with her family at home, she still gets accused of not being “Latina enough” in casting rooms (whatever that means), because she doesn’t seem to fit into the narrow, one-dimensional image many have of a Latina person.
When People asked Mendes whether being Latina is difficult in Hollywood, she answered very matter-of-factly.
"I’m pretty new to Hollywood, but I’m already starting to see the issues in how some projects are cast. I often hear things like, "You don’t look Latina enough," and that mentality is so backwards. The fact is: I am Latina, so how are you going to tell me that I don’t look Latina?"
We’re so glad that Mendes is speaking out about this, because the fact of the matter is humans come in all different forms, and to accuse someone of not being “enough” when it comes to any race or culture means you’re operating within the realm of stereotype — not real people. The entertainment industry should forget narrow visions of cultural groups, and instead work towards portraying a diverse range of appearances and experiences.
After all, the latter will make for better stories.
We’re SO glad that Mendes was cast as Veronica in Riverdale, because as the interview mentions, her role as a privileged Latina isn’t common in mainstream media.
"It’s just so refreshing to see a different story being told for Latin families," Mendes tells People. "The Lodge family is a much-needed departure from the underprivileged, sleazy Latino drug-dealers we’re used to seeing in entertainment. It’s rare that you see Latin families being portrayed as intelligent, sophisticated, and powerful entities."
Yes to that.
Love your confidence and willingness to speak honestly about issues that matter, Camila. Keep smashing it with everything you’ve got.