America [Ferrara’s] exclusion from the list is probably the most shocking and disappointing of the three snubs. This year, the Honduran actress, a past Emmy winner for Best Actress in a Comedy Series (Ugly Betty), joined CBS’ critically acclaimed drama, The Good Wife in the role of Natalie Flores, a college student born in Mexico, whose illegal-immigrant status put the brakes on her college career and her dream of becoming a State’s attorney. Poignant and ripped from the headlines (the debate over the DREAM Act still rages on), America’s performance on the show shattered misconceptions about what it means to be an undocumented worker in America. Natalie was a smart, educated, articulate, goal-oriented, English-speaking Latina who didn’t rely on her sexual prowess to get ahead.
“[Natalie] is sort of the anti-stereotype of what people imagine when they hear those labels,” America has said of her character. Was that anti-stereotype confusing to Academy voters who are mostly White males? Possibly.
Then there’s Sara Ramirez. You would think that after she stole the show in the Grey’s Anatomy musical episode this year—bringing tears to our eyes and music to our ears—Sara would get some Emmy love. Sadly, it seems the Mexican-American actress’s Callie Torres—a Lesbian orthopedic surgeon—could not move voters quite the way Sandra Oh has in previous years for what is arguably a better performance. Sara’s Callie isn’t overly sexual, she is soft-spoken and she’s a doctor—not a housewife or a maid.
“We still have the maids and the gardeners and the heavy accents,” Ramirez told Latina earlier this year. “I’m not against someone with an accent—that exists. So I’m not against that being portrayed on TV—but there are so many people who are Latino who don’t have accents, who don’t clean houses, who aren’t servicing others in the ways that we’ve grown used to seeing,” she said. “We’re now doctors, we are now lawyers, we are now doing a lot more in the world.”
And speaking of doing a lot more in the world, we also have to wonder if the Emmys didn’t know what to make of Lauren Velez—who has been playing the boss of a Miami police department on the Showtime hit Dexter for five seasons. Is Laguerta, a strong Latina who is uncompromising and brutal when need be, not the kind of “Latina” they like to see on television?
- From “Do the Emmy Awards Only Reward Latina Stereotypes?,” by Lee Hernandez