American Masters

Rita Moreno & Edward James Olmos on the discrimination Latinx Actors Faced


- When Raul came to my studio, charm came to my studio.

He quickly absorbed what I was teaching 'cause he was very talented.

Had a natural appetite for the work.

But Latino actors were not finding much work in those days, you have to remember that.

- Whatever the reasons, there were no jobs.

You were either with a gang member, or you were a waiter, or only parts where you were playing someone who did menial work.

(birds chirping) (inspirational music) - At that time there was a lot of discrimination about Puerto Ricans.

They were minority.

They were also in a ghetto which was El Barrio.

- We were not considered part of the American citizenship.

They thought of us as the other.

- He was always very, very clear and vocal about the fact of the very few opportunities that we were getting.

We weren't getting as many opportunities as we should have.

- We never saved the day.

We weren't intelligent.

'Oh, you're gonna be an actor, great.

'What are you going to do?

'Who are you going to rape and rob and mug?'

I mean, either that or be the victim.

- Once you start speaking about who are the storytellers, you always find out that the European-based cultures tend to be able to tell their stories much easier than non-European-based cultures.

- And a lot of actors probably that were of Hispanic heritage that ended up changing their name out of absolute necessity to get work.

So they wouldn't get typecast.

- He was fiercely, fiercely Puerto Rican.

Proud of being (speaking foreign language). - Raul set an example of not having to do that.

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