Andy Garcia: “I’m Not A Latino Actor.”

by Guest Contributor Alex Alvarez, originally published at Guanabee

In a press conference for his latest movie, The Pink Panther 2 (Why, God, why?!), Andy Garcia was quoted as saying, “I’m not a Latino actor, sincerely.” And, well. We think he has a point!

At the press conference, Andy said that, while he is known for being immensely proud of his Cuban heritage, he has tried (unsuccessfully, perhaps) to shed the label of “Latino” from being tacked in front of “Actor Andy Garcia.” He explains:

Everyone knows that I love my culture and that I’m Cuban, but I don’t consider myself a Latino actor, nor do I want other to classify me in that way. All actors should be classified in the same manner.

Dustin Hoffman isn’t described as “Jewish, American” actor. I don’t think heritage has anything to do with acting ability; in reality, we’ll all actors. In my case, I happen to be actor who is American with a Cuban heritage that’s given me a certain sensibility and point of view that maybe others might not have.

Andy also went on to address one of the stereotypes of Latino actors that we most love to loathe:

It’s possible that I’m thought of this way, but I’ve never accepted a script where I’ve had to play the “Latin Lover.” I’m not interested in that type of film.

Personally, we tend to agree with Andy. While we can totally see the importance of choosing to classify oneself as a “Latino ____” in order to open doors for others in a particular industry that might not be especially welcoming or accepting, we have to wonder at what point does one stop being considered an ethnicity – or a race, or a gender, or a political party, or a religion, or a sexual orientation – and start becoming a multi-dimensional, complex human being that simply happens to belong to a number of different groups.

Andy’s point about being offered – and then rejecting – certain stereotypical roles also touches upon the idea that marketing oneself as one’s ethnicity might come with certain expectations: Latino writers being expected to always write on or be inherently interested in “Latino issues,” Latino musicians being expected to play salsa or bachata or… reggaeton.

Self-identifying as Latino does not necessarily equate to being, for lack of a better term, “a professional Latino.” Then again, when so-called Latino actors like Andy Garcia continue to take on roles that undermine stereotypes or preconceived notions of what a Latino actor’s career must look like, they can work to change public perception of what Latinos are expected to do and be.

What do you all think?