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


Despite Raúl Juliá’s talents, opportunities for Latino actors were scarce. Rubén Blades, Andy Garcia, and others discuss how Raúl Juliá overcame discrimination to make a name for himself as an actor — without losing his Puerto Rican accent or changing his name — helping to pave the way for Latinx actors today.

American Masters presents the first documentary film exploring the remarkable life and legacy of the enthralling actor: Raúl Juliá: The World’s a Stage, premiering nationwide Friday, September 13 at 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings), and the PBS Video app.


- 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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