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Emmys

Lyn from "Vida" and Alexis from "Schitt's Creek"

We women are rewarded for being pretty, especially a particular, male-identified, cis, hetero type of pretty — skinny, long hair, etc. It’s the sort of look that gets you lots of compliments and Instagram followers. It’s a look that’s wildly overrepresented on TV, even when it makes no logical sense (how did those residents of Seattle Grace find time to get their hair blown out?!?!).

Of course, there’s been push back. And thanks to it, we have more women of different sizes, more definitions of beauty than ever before. But the “pretty girl” type persists as an ideal we’re all supposed to strive for. That’s why I loved the arcs of Alexis Rose in Schitt’s Creek and Lyn Hernandez in Vida — they expose the myth of the pretty girl by centering her perspective.

It may sound counterintuitive, what with how often we see them, but pretty girls don’t usually get to be the heroes of their own stories. They can be beautiful, unknowable objects (a la Margot Robbie in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood), vapid narcissists who deserve a little humiliation (one million seasons of America’s Next Top Model and its clones), or corpses over which men can learn things or hatch revenge plots (see nearly every procedural ever). But something new is happening on Schitt’s Creek and Vida — pretty girls are getting an interior life and it’s more interesting, funny, and feminist than we could have imagined.

Alexis and Lyn both start their shows as the pretty ideal. They fit the type and have gotten the rewards in terms of men’s attention and society’s validation. In most shows, that’d be it. They’d be a love interest or foil. But in Schitt’s Creek and Vida, we see what it’s like to live in their strappy sandals and it turns out, it’s very limiting. The “rewards” of pretty-dom come with serious downsides — relying on men for validation, having to change who you are for your partner of the hour, only having a surface-level understanding of who you are.

And both Lyn and Alexis are not happy. They don’t have to reject prettiness, but they do have to find things to value about themselves outside of their looks (and ability to attract rich men). Lyn’s journey is about learning to value her aesthetic point of view, run the bar, and find a core to herself that’s not selfish or superficial. Alexis goes back to high school, gets her associates, starts a company, and re-negotiates her relationship to men, starting to see them as actual people, not cash machines or status boosters.

I’d love to talk about the ways Lyn and Alexis are similar all day. I’d love to just talk about women and how far we’ve come. But there’s a problem. You see Annie Murphy’s Alexis Rose is white and Melissa Barrera’s Lyn Hernandez is not and their paths diverge in all the sorry, frustrating, predictable ways you can imagine. Murphy got that Emmy nomination and Barrera didn’t. Likewise, Schitt’s Creek is getting all this critical love and touted as a “universal” story that’s changing the world. And it is a great show! A ‘universal’ (whatever that means) show! But so is Vida.

In fact, the two shows have a lot of similarities in addition to their deconstructing the ideal of the pretty girl. They both focus on very specific communities and don’t really venture out of them — Schitt’s Creek has its rural Canadian town and Vida has Boyle Heights. Both have a fish-out-of-water premise with our heroes landing in those communities as outsiders and having to adjust their identities accordingly. Both shows are unapologetically queer and have been lauded for that prospective. Both are really great. One also just happens to be white.

And to the white folks go the prizes even when Lyn’s very latinaness is part of what makes her so groundbreaking. Women of color are even less likely to have our agency portrayed on-screen than our white counterparts and when you throw in sexuality, it gets even more fraught. Women of color are portrayed as the outside temptresses, the other women, the ones with the destructive sexuality that threatens the white family (see the conservative uproar over WAP, like it had anything to do with them). Or we’re sexless mammies come to nurture you or make you laugh (from Gone with the Wind to Bridesmaids). Lyn is none of those things — she’s a flawed Chicana who’s learning to be better, to trust herself, to make her own definition of success. As such she’s just as, if not more, interesting/hilarious/important than Alexis. I just wish she’d be recognized as such.

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What Three Latinas Have to Say About the Emmy Nominations

This time is for us – Latinas, women, Latinx folks – and we want to know what our community has to say, not the white guys who usually sound off. And we think you do too. That’s why we created “What Latina Critics Have to Say.” ¡Disfruta!

Flowers

The Latinx community had a great year in television. Pose. Vida. One Day at a Time. The list goes on. The Television Academy should have celebrated our stars but they didn’t. As we work towards fixing that, let’s take a minute and listen to the Latinas who are making the case that the Academy can and must do better. Finally – we agree on something!

The Emmys Need To Stop Ignoring Latinx Women

Ariana Romero identifies the Television Academy’s “latest — and long-standing — racist erasure of Latinx femme talent,” writing in Refinery29, “While the Emmys’ voting body seems to believe Bledel is the only on-screen shining TV star in our community, the 2020 Emmys’ eligibility period was actually an embarrassment of riches in televised Latinx storytelling.” we couldn’t agree more. Read her full article.

Stop Acting Like There Aren’t Latinx Stars Deserving of Emmy Nominations: Opinion

Rosy Cordero drops lots of important points in this EW piece but we particularly love this one: “Critics will say, and have said, that talent from marginalized communities is looking for participation awards, but that’s simply not true. We don’t want anything that we don’t deserve. But it’s important to recognize that we are not playing on a level field. We want to earn a seat at the table, not because of our ethnic makeup but because we are talented and hard-working.” Preach! Read her full opinion.

What the Hell Do Latinx Actors and Shows Have to Do to Get an Emmy Nomination?

While recognizing the “too few” Latinxs nominated, Laura Bradley speaks directly to the problem, writing for the Daily Beast, “Each year, one can attribute the Emmys’ relatively small to nonexistent list of Latinx nominees to various circumstances. Anti-CW bias here, a show that’s lost the attention of the Academy there… But the one thing that seems to remain consistent is the scarcity of nominees itself. And thanks to a few recent cancellations, there are now no Latinx series left on network television. Qué barbaridad.” Read her full article.

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How Do You Solve A Problem Like the Emmys?

The Emmys (and Hollywood in general) has a race problem — even if the 2020 nominations are a step in the right direction. People of color are FINALLY represented in every major category with Black women earning the majority of spots in “Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie!”

In fact, Black people are overrepresented in this year’s actor nominations, earning a third of the nominations despite making up just 13% of the US population. And I, for one, think it’s about time. Black people have created much of American culture with little to no recognition since at least the invention of jazz. And if you look at the Emmy nominations historically, we’ll need MANY more years like this one before we get anywhere close to that 13% (which really should be more, because of the legacy of Black artists — see above).

There’s just one problem: No Latinxs or Latinx shows (Pose was mightily overlooked) were nominated this year. And in the history of the Emmys, only one afrolatino has won — Jharrel Jerome’s barrier-breaking win — and we didn’t see more Afrolatinx artists nominated this year. Sandra Oh is representing all Asian people AGAIN in the major categories and while I’ll love her forever, that just isn’t right (for example, Asian men exist!).

So how do you solve a problem like the Emmys? Well, let’s start with something that should be obvious — you don’t go around competing for the “minority” spot. I have no interest in non-Black Latinxs actors taking nominations from other people of color, particularly AfroLatinx and Black actors and artists who had to fight harder to get where they are and have been opening up doors for the rest of us. Anti-blackness is real and wrong, wherever it shows up. No, instead, we non-Black Latinx folks need to work with a BIPOC coalition to advance representation behind the camera, as cultural gatekeepers, and on-screen. Here’s how it should work:

Behind the Camera

Let’s celebrate queens like Shonda Rhimes. She’s BEEN lifting up all our stories

We need to shout from the rooftops for Cheryl L. Bedford’s Women of Color Unite, the largest group of women of color in film and television. Did you know they recently teamed up with the Bitch Pack for #StartWith8Hollywood, creating the largest diversity and inclusion initiative in the industry? Let’s thank them, support, and sign up!

For Latinx-specific group’s like L.A. CollabLatinx Directors, and NALIP, we need to ensure ALL of the Latinx community is represented if anything over-indexing Black and LGBTQ folks to ensure we’re not just creating more mess (aka white supremacism) as we go. These programs are good but, of course, the main thing we need is for BIPOC to get hired behind the camera so we can recognize more of our own AND authentically represent our experiences. Let’s get (at least) proportional representation as studio executives, writers, and directors. Then, we’ll really be getting somewhere.

As Cultural Gatekeepers

Ava DuVernay’s “A Wrinkle in Time” was famously panned by white male critics. But it wasn’t about (or for) them FOR ONCE

One of the reasons that hasn’t happened is because of institutions like the Emmys. Part of me wants to throw these awards shows out but the truth is, they do help determine who gets a project greenlighted and how big of a budget goes with it. So if we have to play, then let’s get on some more even footing. TV and film criticism is also largely a white, male game and that’s got to change (obvi — that’s why we created latinamedia.co). Rotten Tomatoes has tried to include more BIPOC women but we still need more (from them and major newsrooms across the country). Hire us, pay us, and recognize us. In the meantime, let’s storm the academies (televisionfilmwhatever) and make sure new members are overwhelmingly BIPOC. Apply if you’re eligible!

On-Screen

We agree with Issa Rae — we’re rooting for everyone Black!

As we move the needle off-screen, we’ll get more, more diverse, and more meaningful representation on screen. This is the final product we all get to consume. Think InsecureVidaFresh Off the Boat. For too long, these stories have been ignored in favor of plain white ones, and in too many cases, that’s still happening. Think about which shows get canceled (without marketing) and which get nominated for awards. But also think about what these shows mean to you now and what having Spider-verse or The Expanding Universe of Ashley Garcia would have meant to young you. Imagine it. And then help make it happen for everyone.

This piece has been updated. An earlier version implied Sandra Oh was the only Asian nominee when she is the only Asian actor nominated in a major category.

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10 Latinx Stars That Should be Nominated for an Emmy

We’re disappointed but we’re not surprised. Yet again 2020 is another year with no Latinx people getting Emmy nominations. It’s not that we haven’t tried – 2019 featured some amazing talent. From MJ Rodriguez’s iconic role as Blanca in the critically acclaimed Pose to Julissa Calderon’s stand out performance in Gentified, this year was filled with nuanced and heartfelt performances.

Even though these Latinas haven’t been nominated, we decided to celebrate them anyway. Here are the 10 Latinx stars that were robbed this year.   

MJ Rodriguez, Pose

For two seasons MJ Rodriguez has shined in the role of Blanca, showing us that chosen family is everything. The fact that her iconic performance hasn’t been recognized is simply wrong. It’s hard to think of other characters on TV that are more important than Blanca at this moment.

Rita Moreno, One Day At A Time

Speaking of icons, Rita Moreno clearly needs no introduction. For decades she’s graced us with her presence on the big screen and is still the only Latina to have won an Oscar and that was in 1961. However the Emmys seemed to have forgotten how to recognize greatness. Her role on One Day At a Time deserves an Emmy period. 

Melissa Barrera, Vida

Melissa Barrera’s Lyn has gone through quite the transformation over the course of Vida’s three seasons. In the latest installment, we were particularly impressed with how she expressed vulnerability and change while staying true to her core. Truly, an award-winning performance.

America Ferrera, Superstore

Superstore, while one of the few network shows on the list, deserves our recognition because of America Ferrera and her character Amy Sosa. As Ferrera explains “I just love that Amy doesn’t care if you like her. That’s so liberating for a female character to sort of walk around and say, ‘I don’t need you to smile at me. I’m just trying to get through the day.’ And she started in a place of really just trying to survive.”  

Ser Anzoategui, Vida

Vida is one of our favorite shows and Ser Anzoategui’s is part of the reason why. As Lyn and Emma’s mother’s not-so-secret partner, Ser has given us a character that gives us all the feels. Their acting chops are undeniable and deserve recognition. Also maybe let’s get rid of gendered categories all together? See Ser’s address to the academy

Julissa Calderon, Gentefied

Gentefied is one of our favorite new shows of 2019. Produced by America Ferrera, Gentefied gives us a world where we can see ourselves and Julissa Calderon as Yessika Flores gives Gentefied its activist center. It’s a role made for her and one that deserves recognition.

Tessa Thompson, Westworld

Tessa Thompson continues to be one of our favorite Latinx actors, from playing a badass superhero in Thor to the complex and nuanced Charlotte of Westworld. This show continues to play with the particularly relevant ideas around technology, data, and humanity. Is she a robot or human or both? Thompson is always keeping us on our toes and deserves recognition for this complex dynamic role. 

Stephanie Beatriz, Brooklyn99

While detective Rosa Diaz is one of the best parts of Brooklyn 99, we’re still hoping the show pivots from being about cops. Let’s not forget the episode that is completely dedicated to her coworkers’ challenge to get her to smile or her coming out as bisexual in season 5. 

Jessica Marie Garcia, On My Block

As Jasmine in On My Block, Jessica Maria Garcia does it all. She’s hilarious and over the top. She’s vulnerable and strong. We loved seeing her character join the center group in the third season of On My Block and really, couldn’t think of a girl with a better eyebrow game.

Rosa Bianca Salazar, Undone

In Undone, Rosa Bianca Salazar acts through a rotoscope animation effect and makes Alma more believable than most people on camera. Questioning the nature of reality, time, and space while also figuring out who you are is no small feat and Rosa never misses a beat. Give her all the awards!

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Only 1 Latinx Person Won an Emmy — That’s Just Not Enough

There were many beautiful moments at the 2019 Emmy’s. Michelle Williams demanding fair treatment at work for women and particularly women of color. Billy Porter becoming the first black gay man to win an Emmy and quoting James Baldwin in his acceptance speech. Alex Borsteinurging women to “step out of line” like her grandmother did to survive the Holocaust.

The best of these was certainly Jharrel Jerome winning best actor in a limited series for When They See Us. The first Afro-Latino to win an acting Emmy, Jerome is also the youngest person to win this category at just 21. In his acceptance speech, he dedicated his award to the Exonerated Five, spoke Spanish, and, of course, thanked writer/director/producer Ava Duvernay, who definitely deserved to win her own Emmy.

“I hope this is a step forward for Dominicans, for Latinos, for Afro-Latinos. It’s about time we are here” said Jerome and we agree. The Dominican, Latinx, Afro-Latinx communities have been passed over for too long, talents not given the opportunity to shine on the main stage. These words were Jerome’s response to a question from Remezcla reporter Manuel Betancourt, the first time the Latinx publication was credentialed for the Emmys. When Latinx are both at the podium and asking the questions, great stuff happens.

So while we take this moment to celebrate Jerome’s win (and Betancourt’s reporting), we are far from satisfied. It was great seeing Latinx multi-hyphenates Jimmy Smits and Lin-Manuel Miranda presenting but that was the extent of our representation. Not a single Latina graced the Emmy stage. Not as a winner, not as a presenter, not even as a nominee. This in the year that saw the final seasons of Jane the Virgin and Orange Is The New Black, original EGOT winner Rita Moreno in ODAAT, AND Vida. Latinas were not just absent but ignored.

This erasure happened despite the fact that we certainly know how to do awards shows. I mean JLo literally caused the invention of Google Images with her green Versace dress, now celebrating its 20th anniversary and still breaking the internet. The women of Pose(not nominated, not brought on stage, seated in the back) arguably won the red carpet. We know how to bring it.

Perhaps the Television Academy is scared of us. Remember the debacle they got in a few years ago when they literally put Sofia Vergara on a pedestal? Or perhaps they’re worried they’ll repeat the mistake the Globes made in confusing Latina actresses for each other. But maybe I’m being too generous. It could be they just don’t know what to do with women of color in general. I mean Sandra Oh’s never won despite all those years as the formidable Dr. Cristina Yang (not to mention her current role as the titular Eve on Killing Eve). They didn’t give Ava Duvernay the statues she deserved last night. In fact, they didn’t give any WOC awards. No black women won, no Latinas were nominated, see the note about Sandra Oh above.

And while white women won all of the acting categories, Phoebe Waller-Bridge was the only woman to win a non-acting category, thanks to her writing for Fleabag (which went on to win Best Comedy). It was a rough night for women in general, and particularly for women of color.

The Emmys have to do better. TV is more diverse than film and the Television Academy shows should celebrate, rather than shun that fact. At a moment where activism around media representation continues to make headlines, we should be further than this. Didn’t we learn anything from #OscarsSoWhite? What about all those studies from Annenberg? Yet, here we are, thrilled to be celebrating some firsts while huge proportions of our community get shut out. Again. It’s past time to make Latinas visible.

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