Last year Supergirl hit CBS with a splash raking in a whopping 13 million viewers in its pilot episode and while the shows viewership dropped after its premiere, and eventually moved to smaller network The CW to join other DCTV shows, it is still a show that’s proving to be a positive investment for the network. 

Two on-going criticisms of the show, however, was the overall lack of women of color in what was supposedly a feminist superhero show, and the usage of coming out metaphors within the show’s narrative. Both criticisms were addressed during the season two promotional tour. The showrunners revealed that there would be an introduction — or rather a coming out — of a major LGBTIQA character on the show, along with the inclusion of Maggie Sawyer (a known lesbian in the DCU) and Sharon Leal as Miss Martian.

These two casting choices were made specifically due to showrunner Greg Berlanti’s desire to make the DCTV universe more inclusive. Berlanti detailed his desire to diversify Supergirl and the DCTV in an interview with Hollywood Reporter stating, “I [have always] wanted to contemporize these comics that I loved growing up and have them reflect the society that we live in now.”

Andrew Kreisberg, Supergirl’s other showrunner, also stated in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, “[Maggie Sawyer] says in her introductory episode that growing up gay and Latina in Nebraska made her ideally sympathetic to people who are different and people who don’t quite fit in.”

The inclusion of another black woman as a cast member, along with Maggie Sawyer’s racebend as a queer Latina, made it appear as though the minds behind Supergirl were trying to address some of the shows earlier criticisms.

However, the attempt on both fronts — specifically the racial one — would prove to be riddled with problems. First, casting a black woman as Miss Martian — a green alien — to be your only black female character has racist implications, especially given her overall lack of screentime. The downgrading of James Olsen — originally the romantic male lead, now seemingly replaced by the white actor who plays Mon-El — doesn’t help.

In the case of Maggie Sawyer, however, there lies an especially frustrating aspect to her character and promotion that contributes to an on-going and pervasive history of racism against Latinx people within Hollywood. As previously stated, Kreisberg promoted Maggie specifically as a Latina woman and that her story on Supergirl would be connected to that identity as a queer Latina. On the show, Maggie confides in Alex Danvers telling her the following:

tumblr_ofl0xhpmaj1scqrkjo3_500This moment was to specifically establish that Maggie Sawyer was a dual-sided outsider in the world, having faced two different types of prejudices, and as such could relate and endear herself to Supergirl (and the DEO’s) cause. The narrative gave us this scene to showcase how real world discrimination still exists within a world that also discriminates against the fictional and fantastical alien characters on Supergirl.

This moment with Maggie Sawyer should be a powerful moment for queer Latinx youth and adults watching the show. Showing a Latina woman being open about the struggles she faces with her dual identities as both a Latina woman and a lesbian would be something powerful to witness. Even more so given the backdrop of Supergirl being a genre show — as people of color and LGBTIQA people are so rarely included in science fiction or fantasy settings — and would have made Maggie’s inclusion that much more powerful.

There would have been a lot of positivity gained by having Maggie Sawyer be a lesbian Latina woman fighting aliens and evil corporate masterminds on Supergirl alongside Alex Danvers and the other Supergirl characters. She would have acted as a much needed addition to positive depictions of queer Latinx characters in our media.

But she isn’t.

Unfortunately, Maggie Sawyer is not Latina, or rather, the actress who plays her, Floriana Lima, is not Latina but Italian, English, Irish, and German. Lima has even spoken passionately about her Italian-American upbringing and identity, stating, “I was able to pull from my family’s passion. Italians tend to be so big and loud and passionate,” in an interview with the The Cincinnati Enquirer in 2012.

This all stands opposite of what Kreisberg stated and what was reported up until Supergirl aired its second season; that Maggie Sawyer was a Latina female character. These statements combined with in-show statements and subtextual coding were used to make audiences believe Maggie was Latina. 

There are currently only a handful of LGBTIQA Latinx characters on either television, film, books, animation, and comics. Even fewer in more mainstream and easier to access channels. Making it all the more difficult to find the representation so many Latinx people are seeking.

According to GLAAD’s “Where Are We On TV” 2015-2016 report, the amount of LGBTIQA Latinx characters amounted to about five total characters (out of 70 characters total) on broadcast networks, and on cable primetime networks 11 (out of 142). Popular Latinx website Remezcla created a list of 20 Latinx LGBTIQA characters dating back as far as 1994 with Enrique “Rickie” Vasquez starring on My So-Called Life.

However, some characters included on the list such as: Inara Serra (Firefly), Renee Montoya (Gotham), Jesús Velásquez (True Blood), José “Joey” Gutierrez (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), and Dani (Glee) were all either under utilized (Dani, Renee, José), murdered violently (Jesús), fetishized (Inara), or forgotten (Renee, José, Dani). Hardly the best offerings in terms of positive representation.

And entirely separate article could be used to argue the lack of positive LGBTIQA representation for the Latinx community, or how FOX’s Gotham dropped the ball majorly on DC Comics arguably most well known Latinx character and one of their more well known LGBTIQA characters. However this article isn’t about those particular problems (maybe next time), rather, this is about Maggie Sawyer and the history Hollywood has of locking Latinx performers out of Hollywood by casting Italian-Americans and other white performers to portray Latinxs on screen.

This makes the casting of Lima on Supergirl as a supposedly Latina Maggie Sawyer not only frustrating, but also a bit heartbreaking given the overall history of both the lack of positive Latinx LGBTIQA characters and the history of Italian-Americans playing Latinx characters in western media.  

In the 1993 film Alive — based on the true story of the Uruguayan rugby team that crashed in the Andes Mountains — Ethan Hawke, Josh Hamilton, and Illeana Douglas all play the roles of real Uruguayan men. Hawke is the only Italian-American of the three, but that hardly makes it better. Two years later, Marisa Tomei (aka the new Aunt May) was cast as Cuban character Dorita Evita Perez in the 1995 film, The Perez Family.

In the Academy Award winner for Best Picture, Crash, Jennifer Esposito plays Latina Detective Ria, the on-and-off girlfriend of Don Cheadle’s character. Esposito’s casting is especially ironic given the films subject matter is racism, and yet, she is actually an Italian woman playing a Latina character. A character whom specifically discusses the racism she faces as a Latina woman in the film. The irony is almost painful.

Despite what the actress states, she is neither
Despite what the actress states, she is neither Puerto Rican nor Salvadoran

Jesse Metcalfe played Mexican character Miguel Lopez-Fitzgerald on Passions, even though he is Italian American. Antonio Sabato Jr. is another Italian man who played Pablo Alesandro the Argentinean Latin lover in the indie film Testosterone.

Vanessa Ferlito, another Italian-American actress, has a history of playing Latina characters, let’s run down the list: Gridiron Gang as Lisa Gonzales, Nothing like the Holidays as Roxanna Rodriguez, and Claudia Hernandez on 24. Another actress who has taken multiple Latina roles is Lindsay Hartley on Passions, Days of Our Lives, and All My Children. Hartley is is part Greek and Italian.

A more memorable and prevalent addition to the history of Italians playing Latinx characters is Al Pacino portraying the iconic role of Tony Montana in the classic Scarface. Pacino is Italian-American, yet one of his most well-known, and iconic roles is that of a Cuban immigrant. A decade later, Pacino played a Puerto Rican gangster in Carlito’s Way.

MARVEL'S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. - "Uprising" - As Coulson, Mack and Fitz attempt to track down and neutralize a rogue group looking to end Inhuman Registration worldwide, Simmons and Dr. Radcliffe only have hours to save May before she succumbs forever to her mysterious illness, on "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.," TUESDAY, OCTOBER 11 (10:00-11:00 p.m. EDT), on the ABC Television Network. (ABC/Jennifer Clasen) LORENZO JAMES HENRIE
Lorenzo James Henrie as Gabe Reyes on MARVEL’S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. property of ABC/Disney/Marvel

Something closer to comics and more recent pop culture is actor Lorenzo James Henrie who played biracial (Maori/Latino) Chris Manawa on Fear of the Walking Dead, and Gabe Reyes the younger brother of Robbie Reyes on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Henrie is neither Maori or Latino, but rather Italian, English, German, and Swiss.

By now, you can probably see the pattern that continues on, and on and on. This overall history includes not just Italian-Americans playing Latinx characters, but showcases the on-going and continuing presence of whitewashing of Latinx characters. Along with the barring of actual roles for Latinx actors and actresses. But Hollywood seems to have an apparent affinity with Italian-Americans playing Latinx characters over actual Latinx performers.

Afro-Cuban actress Gina Torres stated in NBC Universo’s documentary, Black and Latino: “When I became an actress, I quickly realized that ‘the world’ liked their Latinas to look Italian and not like me.”

56c3a07d1d00002700df6155This continued erasure of Afro-Latinx peoples, Indigenous Latinxs, and other mixed-raced Latinxs from roles in Hollywood perpetuates a false image of what the Latinx community looks like.

Kathleen Ecclesten-Cooper, writer for MMC The Monitor, wrote in her essay, titled “Latinx Identity in American Media:”

As a result, the Latina aesthetic is dictated by a majority of people who aren’t part of the aesthetic they are looking for. In a way it is understandable. You have to do what will generate the most sales, but it is not great enough of an excuse to exclude Latinxs from their respective roles and to white wash the ‘Latina’ look on national television and movie screens.

That’s the history that Supergirl — unwittingly or not — stepped in to, a history the erases the actual Latinx experience and identity. A history that contributes to the continued debarment of Latinx actors from getting roles and opportunity. Even Latinx actors playing Italian characters — such as Jennifer Lopez playing such in The Wedding Planner — contributes to this. It erases the identity of the Latinx community, prevents us from seeing ourselves in roles, in media, even in our history. Lima’s casting contributes to the continuing difficulty of actual Latinx actors receiving equal opportunities in Hollywood playing people within their own community.

Maggie Sawyer is canonically white in the comics. If she had been promoted as white before season two aired there’d be no problem here — other than the continued lack of prominent women of color on Supergirl that is.

However Maggie wasn’t marketed as a white female character. She was marketed specifically as a Latina woman. Maggie even states in the show she is “non-white”. So why chose a non-Latina actress for the role? Why chose an Italian-American actress for the role that was promoted as a Latina character? When their are actual Latinx actors and actresses struggling to get jobs in Hollywood? If the purpose behind Maggie’s non-white status was to diversify the majority white DCTV verse, why chose a white actress who just looks “sorta” brown to play a brown female character? How does this help diversify Supergirl let alone the DCTV universe or American media in general? Promoting a character as a Latinx character, but not casting a Latinx performer, takes away representation and opportunity instead of adding to it.  

Hector Becerra stated in his article for the Los Angeles Times, “In this town, it’s as if Hollywood tries not to cast Latinos:”

A study by USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism found that among the 100 top-grossing movies in 2014, 73% of all speaking or named characters were white, just more than 12% were black and 5% were Asians. Latinos, who make up more than 16% of the U.S. population, were just below Asians.

How many times has Hollywood cast a white actor as a Latino protagonist? Long before Hunnam, there was Marlon Brando in “Viva Zapata!” and that famous Mexican thespian Charlton Heston in “Touch of Evil.” But we’re not even talking about getting starring roles here. If you can’t get the supporting roles, it stands to reason you won’t graduate to bigger roles.

So if only about 5% of speaking roles feature Latinx characters, it begs the question of how much of that 5% are even played by actual Latinx performers?

This isn’t to say that there aren’t brown Italians; race is of course a complex subject that is built around societal constructs. Race in Europe is different than Race in America, or Race in Brazil or Race in Japan, and so on and so forth.

However Supergirl is an American-made television show, that is set in America, whose primary audience is American. The people most affected by the content are going to be Americans — including Latinx Americans. Latinx Americans who don’t have much in the way of media representation, nor many legitimate, non-stereotypical roles being offered to them by casting directors.

Even if Lima is a woman of color (some Sicilians have Arab-backgrounds though Lima isn’t Sicilian according to any public record), she is not Latina. And the role of Maggie Sawyer was specifically advertised as a Latina role. It was advertised as such to take steps to better diversify the majority white cast on Supergirl. In the societal racial structure in America, Italian-Americans aren’t considered people of color. 

This isn’t an attack on Supergirl as a television show, Lima as an actress, or the story featuring her and Alex. One that has received praise from many, and is important to better the representation of lesbians on television. This isn’t an argument that the storyline should not exist, but rather that it could have been inclusive.

Instead Supergirl lied to its audience. Supergirl lied to the Latinx LGBTIQA community. Supergirl lied to its fans of color and especially its Latinx fans. Supergirl promised a queer Latina character and cast an Italian-American actress instead, continuing the history of barring Latinx performers from roles and the erasure of Latinx faces in American media.

Some defenders and fans might say, “well Lima looks Latina.”

Latina looks like my Mamita teaching me how to make empanadas after years of being told by white step-relatives how ghetto, disgusting, lazy, and awful my Latinx family was. Latina looks like my familia saying a prayer in Spanish at my Papi’s funeral after years of having our language fetishized, ridiculed and used as a means to commit violence against our community. Latinx looks like Afro-Latinxs who have their identities erased repeatedly in the media and facing racist colorism from all sides. Latinx looks like the President Elect of the United States building a platform that called Mexicans “murderers” and “rapists” and said we were all “bad hombres” on national television. Latinx looks like a crippling debt crisis and a governing country that doesn’t seem to care. Latinx looks like struggle, erasure, colonialism, and oppression.

Lima doesn’t “look” Latina and thus, Maggie Sawyer doesn’t look Latina. By suggesting a non-Latinx performer can “look” Latinx erases what actual Latinxs look like and misconstrues our identities in mainstream media. It erases our struggles as a community, watering us down to a preconceived notion of what being Latinx is. An image that carefully repackages our identities and struggles to make them more appealing and profitable to majority white audiences. 

Latinxs are an extremely diverse ethnic and racial community. There are Afro-Latinxs, Asian Latinxs, Indiginious Latinxs, Jewish Latinxs, and beyond. Lima doesn’t “look” Latina, she looks like the acceptable version of “brown” by Hollywood standards. She looks like an “acceptable” Latina, Hollywood’s own distorted image of what the Latinx community is.  

56c4a58c1900002900377d92Maggie Sawyer doesn’t represent what being Latina means, or the struggles many Latinas face in America. When Maggie told Alex she struggled being both non-white and queer, it feels like a trick. Lima is able to adopt the identity for various roles but does not have to live with the reality of being Latina in America. Or the struggle of being a Latina actress in Hollywood.

Lima, along with other previously discussed Italian-American actors, are given the opportunity to play white and Latina characters. While Latinx performers like Gina Torres, Diego Luna, Selenis Leyva, Rosie Perez, and many other Latinx performers struggle to get roles. This isn’t an attack on the actress, but rather the industry as a whole for continuing to uphold a racist status quo.

We can not argue that representation matters if only some representation matters. We can appreciate the inclusion of Alex Danvers’ coming out storyline and acknowledge its importance in our media. Just as we can acknowledge the inherent problems of an Italian-American actress playing what was advertised as a Latina character, one claiming to be non-white. We can appreciate the importance of Alex Danvers’ coming out and how it’s written. We can also discuss how Alex/Maggie as a couple aren’t inclusive towards non-white LGBTIQA fans. We can discuss and acknowledge how Lima’s casting contributes to a prevalent, on-going racist Hollywood system that works to lock out Latinx performers in American media.

We can both appreciate and acknowledge the positives and negatives of Supergirl’s storyline as fans. And we can respect the feelings of Latinx fans who feel hurt and betrayed by it. This isn’t a call to denounce the show or the storyline itself. Rather, it is to acknowledge the problem at hand, understand the history, and work harder to be better. To respect the Latinx community and understand the need for positive representation of the Latinx community in our media. And finally, to understand how the prevailing practice of casting Italian-Americans and other white performers in Latinx roles is a racist practice that needs to be stopped. 

Maggie Sawyer was an opportunity blown, lost, and wasted. A let down and a lie. If the minds behind Supergirl are sincere in their desire to be more diverse, they still have a long way to go before reaching that goal. 

Advertisements

43 thoughts on “The Disappointing Truth About Supergirl’s Maggie Sawyer

  1. Unfortunately, the blonde-bland, Starbucks-sipping, sickeningly-perfect crown are common on Buffy, DC Legends, Green Arrow, etc. I love the shows, but they love their mostly-white fantasy style more than reality. What we need is a minority-centered channel for superheroes, spies, aliens, etc. It takes money, but hey, there are worse things than catering to oneself. Give Natives face-time! They most of all need the stage.

    Like

    1. Never got into “Supergirl.” Too bland, vanilla white bread for me. PASS. The fact that inclusion even comes up as a topic connected with that show exposes its diversity deficiencies. The CW has always been way too vanilla for my tastes. SIP, ON.

      Like

  2. Amen to this. This isn’t new for Hollywood however. Anthony Quinn and Ricardo Montalban were notorious for playing “brown” characters in the past. Quinn is Spanish–from Spain and Montalban was born in Mexico to white parents–in other words–white. They’ve played Latino but also Native American/Middle eastern and South Asian. Montalban’s best known role is as Khan in Star Trek. Khan is described as northern Indian or middle eastern.

    More recently–Elsa Pataky (Spanish of Romanian descent) has played these roles.

    Then there are even more famous cases like Johnny Depp and Keanu Reeves–both of whom are seen as white, hence their movie stardom. They both become “Native” and “Asian” respectively when they want to. Depp took the role of Tonto in The Lone Ranger when there are so few for Native actors.

    Non-whites cannot slip in and white of our skins when we want to. I’d love to be white so I can play any of Jennifer Lawrence’s or Scarlett Johansson’s roles, but I can’t.

    The white people who have the power to cast films and television DO have a preference for “proxy” whites. It’s a form of narcissism. These “proxy” whites have many features in common with whites–because in many cases they are half-white or white (Quinn, and all these Italians portraying these Latinx.). They do it to black women too. The majority of successful black actresses are biracial, or mixed race, including Sharon Leal, who’s half-Korean.

    I’m glad these kinds of getting called, so they don’t think they’re doing non-whites any favors.

    Like

      1. Yes, I always thought Anthony Quinn was Mexican even though he played Greeks and everything else under the sun. Oscar Isaac is the new Anthony Quinn—although Oscar Isaac is from Guatamala===he is the new Hollywood Every Man!

        Like

    1. It always killed me how Sophia Boutella was cast in the latest Star Trek under all that makeup and the same for the chick who now plays Uhura, ZOE SALDANA, who was a green skinned alien in Guardians of the Galaxy. How convenient. (Ironically enough, Saldana recently caught hell for being (mis) cast as Nina Simone, who was shades darker than Saldana who had to wear “cocoa” makeup and who had very different features and hair texture from Saldana.) hey, at least they didn’t have Angelina Jolie playing a Black woman—again. LOL

      Like

    2. Johnny Depp has said many times that he has Native roots, I don’t believe he ever stated that he is fully 100 % native, but before the movie “The lone Ranger” he spoke about that as part of his personal identity

      Like

  3. Race in Italy specifically is different than of course here in America they have a different history spanning since after the fall of the Roman empire the entire peninsula was divided. Before 1861 they were a balkanized peninsula being governed by different regional powers. Why do Southern Italians look different than Northern Italians? If people go there they would find North and South are like two different worlds. The north is primarily industrial versus the south which is primarily agricultural. The north is culturally northern European because for centuries it was ruled by the Austrians, French and German while the South was for centuries ruled by Arab, Greek and Moors so yes she probably is a WOC but she is not Latina. Forgive me I’m a bit of a history buff.

    This is why I don’t take much of their word. They claim to do one thing and do the opposite and pride themselves on being ”inclusive” and ”diverse” My thoughts on it is don’t say but act on it. Actions speak louder than words. But alas…

    Like

    1. This article reeks of ignorance. Sure, she is not Latinx, but it is pathetic to assume she is white because she is Italian. There are MILLIONS of black and brown Italians. I’m a brown Italian. Both of my parents are Italian. Does that mean I’m a fraud? I got picked on by white Italian kids when I was in school. In no country in the world am I white passing and, frankly, no one questioned the casting of Floriana Lima when they announced a woman of colour. Hmm… I wonder why? Sure, criticize their choice of casting a non-Latinx actress to play a supposedly Latinx role, but saying she isn’t white because she is Italian is actually insulting to Italians, like me, who are not white.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I agree, it’s pretty ignorant to make valid POC representation dependent on country of origin. Maybe given Italy’s history and location she’s less representing Latinx and more North African / Middle East ethnicity, but she’s definitely not ‘white’ just because she has Italian origins. (And given how Latinx contains spanish influence and southern Spain, too, had long periods of arab rule, it’s not quite as far-fetched as it may seem at first glance.)

        Like

      2. The author never said “but saying she isn’t white because she is Italian.”

        The author specifically listed her ethnic background, “Italian, English, Irish, and German.” Now if you want to argue that she is a ‘brown Italian’, 1st off: she never identified as being brown/a woc ever, and 2: pictures of her before she started taking roles from Latinx folks got skin so pale she might as well have been from Norway. She has increasingly gotten more tan, and the contrast is insane. It is clearly deliberate for her, because before she snatched roles from actual latinas she was always white as hell.

        It is quite obvious you are a fan of Maggie Sawyer, and I have noticed her fanbase is very very unwelcoming toward latinas that have criticized Lima/Maggie, and even worse with any of us brown folks that take offence at the blatant racism of casting a tanned up white woman to play a brown woman. However, it doesn’t make Floriana Lima’s casting any less gross and wrong. Floriana is white and attacking people for taking at an issue with that… wow. Well wouldn’t be the first time that people look the other way because they love a character/pairing/show so much. Sadly people can’t just acknowledge the issues and validate us in our concerns, and instead chose to side with the people doing damage

        Liked by 1 person

  4. This is a great article!!! One point of contention though. The acronym for the community is LGBTQ. Intersex people have fought very hard not to be included in the acronym because they feel the struggles and interests of the intersex community and the LGBTQ community and not the same. Including t I is doing so explicitly against the wishes of the intersex community. The A is also majorly disputed but I’m not going to go into that. LGBTQ is the official acronym advocated for by activists, interest groups, and most LGBTQ people (although many are happy with just LGBT).

    Liked by 1 person

  5. While I will not deny that white-washing is something that happens far too often in Hollywood and the film industry in general, articles like seem to confuse concepts and the issue. Latin is NOT a race or a skin color. It merely denotes a linguistic and geographical origin. Saying things like ‘white washing a Latinx’ makes no sense, as there are white latins, black latins, mixed latins, etc. Your nationality does not equate with you being defined or not as a person of color. That would be like saying something ridiculous (yet often happens in america) that someone being ‘brazilian’ or ‘mexican’ automatically makes that person POC, and being ‘italian’ or ‘british’ automatically makes you white. I don’t watch Supergirl but Lima IS a POC because she is of color, regardless of where she was born (just like Giselle Bundschen is white yet she’s brazilian or Jessica Parker Kennedy is POC and Canadian). You can’t deny the color of her skin because it doesn’t match your misconception of where a person of color can be born. Many italians are POC because of their moorish and arab descent, and are not geographically confined to Sicilly, LOL. Person of color is person of color, it’s the color of their skin not the place they were born, it’s their racial background and not their postal code.
    Latin ≠ POC
    POC ≠ nationality
    Nationality ≠ race or skin color

    Moreover, saying only actors of the same identity or who have gone through the same struggle as their roles should be hired is utterly ridiculous and negates what being an actor is all about: acting. It would mean only queer actor could play queer character, only junkies can play junkies, etc. Only actors who’ve experienced what their characters have can play them? Instead of….acting? They would be playing themselves essentially instead of transforming into their role which is what their profession is about. So Sarah Shahi who is American of Iranian descent can only ever play an american or an iranian? She can’t be cast as a POC of another nationality, say… egyptian POC…or a POC from greece? because she personally has not felt their life experience and culture? She can’t play gay because she’s straight? Or sarah paulson can’t play straight because she’s queer?

    I am 100% in favor of actors of all nationalities, sexual orientations, religions, race and skin colors to have equal opportunities to be cast in the film industry, and I am 100% in favor of all these identities to be portrayed on screen to represent the diversity of our world, but these two dimension don’t necessarily have to overlap perfectly. I want to see a POC on screen but I don’t need the POC to be exactly from the same place as the character is supposedly born. I trust the actor to research and act, nor do I need them to be the same sexuality as their character, or to have come from a religious background as the character they’re portraying. I don’t want them to play themselves. I want them to understand it and portray it faithfully by acting, not by simply reflecting their own identity.

    FYI, the entire world except americans apparently define Spaniards and Italians as latin, because latin is not only their geographic origin but their linguistic and cultural identities too. Spaniards and Italians (where latin language and culture originated btw), especially of the south are considered latin because of their language, skin color and culture which we inherited partly through colonization and became part of the latino-american cultural and racial identity too.
    I’m a queer, olive skinned, half white peruvian (of irish descent) and mixed nicaraguan (of spanish and native descent) woman. If they ever made a movie of my life (never probably), good luck on finding an actress matching that.

    The issue of ‘white washing’ NEEDS to be addressed (i.e. a white actresses playing mulan). The issue of better representation of identities and experiences in film ‘characters’ needs to be addressed. The issue of more opportunities for ‘actors’ of all identities needs to be addressed. All these are important yet different issues which shouldn’t be thrown together and muddled under one umbrella. Denying an actor his or her identity as a person of color because of their nationality is not helping the cause, it’s disrespectful to them and it’s confusing the real problems IMO.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Floriana Lima was born in the United States. Italians are categorized as white in the United States. Ergo, Floriana Lima is white.

      The reason her casting is whitewashing is because 1) the casting call asked for a Latina actress, 2) the showrunner made a point to state that the character was Latina, 3) these same showrunners were boasting about the additional diversity Maggie and M’gann would add to the cast, and 4) the character stated she was non-white.

      Hiring a white actress negates those points. Italians aren’t PoC in the United States and never have been. They are white.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m white (literally, white skin and from european descent) and I’m also a latina, born and raised and currently living in a latin american country. So saying “The reason her casting is whitewashing is because the casting call asked for a Latina actress.” makes no sense?? You do realize that not all latinxs are people of color, right? You’re literally erasing me and thousands of other people like me, who happen to be WHITE LATINXS.

        Like

      2. -Donald Trump claims he is smart
        -Breitbart categorizes climate change as a hoax
        -This crazy lady on the metro says her umbrella is her pet cat

        Just because they claim these things does not make them true.

        Not when the visually and objectively verifiable facts prove otherwise. You can’t just say because in the US they say Italians are white (some might say it and it would only prove their ignorance) that makes them white. You can’t negate the color of her skin and say that her brown color is white because someone said so. I can’t look at a yellow banana and say it’s blue and just insist that’s the way it is because some misinformed person said so. ”They said so ergo it is.” I altered reality just by saying so! Wish I had that magical power!

        Is Denzel Washington white because Americans categorize themselves as white? Naomi Campbell is white because she’s British and Americans say brits are white? Is Charlize Theron black because Americans categorize South-Africans as black? ”Italians aren’t POC in the US. They are white.” Do sun rays in the US hit people’s retina differently that it automatically alters their color perception according to nationality? It makes all Italian’s skin magically white? Or do they get thrown into a vat of Oxi-clean when entering the airport or something?

        This argument is absurd. You can’t alter reality, tangible facts in front of you (or melanin), just by saying so.

        Like

    2. Spot-on. Great response. It should be an article on its own, differentiating between issues and putting them each into perspective and focus, instead of having it all thrown together resulting in an impossible demand.

      Like

    3. “FYI, the entire world except americans apparently define Spaniards and Italians as latin, because latin is not only their geographic origin but their linguistic and cultural identities too.”

      No they don’t lmao. That is no where near the truth wtf? You don’t know anything remotely about Europe, or obviously what “the entire world” defines as Latinx. You are lying your ass off because it makes you uncomfortable that your new fav is involved with racism and stealing roles from Latinx.

      You are basing your argument on that brain dead tumblr post that tried to claim that someone that is Latinx originates from countries that spoke Latin, that even went as far as claiming people from France was Latinx. It was probably the dumbest shit I have ever read on the internet, and many Latinx people debunked it. The geographic region tied to people that are latinx are – tada- Latin American. Try googling and reading from actual Latinx, instead of mindlessly regurgitating shit some white fan girl wrote.

      You are being disrespectful and defending racism because you don’t want to acknowledge that your new favorite lesbian has many serious issues regarding the casting choice. She is white, and she is not a latina. She has hit up the tanning booth hardcore in order to get Latina roles and also WoC. Floriana is using the ambiguity that comes with how she looks when she gets a spray tan, in order to take roles meant for Latinas and WoC. That is frigging gross, and people like you and others trying to twist Italians into suddenly being Latinx and a tanned white person into a WoC is racist as hell and also shitting on actual Latinx.

      How about you just frigging acknowledge the issues here instead of trying to shut up actual WoC and Latinx? Floriana Lima is a white Italian playing the role of a brown latina and that is wrong.

      Like

      1. Maybe if you had read my post more closely, you would’ve seen that I AM a latin-american woman of color. I’m not shutting up anyone. I am merely giving my opinion (which I am entitled to) and criticizing an article for confusing several issue, but acknowledging there are issues that need to be addressed. Giving an opinion or disagreeing are not the same thing as shutting people up. It’s called having a conversation.

        If you had read my post more closely, you would’ve seen that I do NOT watch the show (I dislike superhero shows and I refuse to watch anything on The CW, a network with an arrogant misogynist president and the biggest contributor to queer female deaths). None of these people are my ‘new faves’ and I have never heard of them before. I am however perfectly capable of being critical without that criticism originating from supposed favoritism. I’m basing my arguments on the information provided by this article (her ancestry and her looks).

        I grew up in the States, lived a third of my life in Europe, and another third in Latin America, so I do have an informed grasp of how people define themselves and others in relation to latin identity. You talk about respect yet you respond to me by insulting me and tell me I’m lying merely because I don’t share your opinion.

        I am part of a nucleus of advanced studies on latin american and latin european culture at my former university, so I do know what I’m talking about regarding my remarks on the latin identity and its origins in Italy and Spain, and them being considered a part of it and defined as such. Some do even include the southern part of France, even though that is a point of contention in the academic community. I don’t need to have read any post on tumblr (I don’t have tumblr so I have no idea what discussion you’re talking about) to know this anyway, just basic knowledge of cultural history. This definition of the latin identity has its basis on facts and a wealth of studies and research papers by people on both continents. If there are people who have ‘debunked’ it as you claim, I suppose they’ve put forward counter-evidence and not just ‘this isn’t true’?

        I don’t know what you mean when you say I’m being racist and disrespectful for pointing out that race and nationality are not equivalent, or that a person who is brown or black can’t be called white just because of the country they were born in.

        Perhaps if you read the various posts under this article, the differing opinions and arguments being made and do it with an open mind, you’ll learn something instead of insulting the people who don’t share your stance. At the very least, maybe you can learn to have polite discourse with others and how to disagree respectfully.

        Cheers.

        Like

      2. Hi Hanan…
        White Italians don’t “tan” they have natural “olive” in their skin that comes out immediately in the sun. Not to distract from your rant… I hate super girl as a show… it was always a bad premise. A consolation prize. You can’t make this character or her supporting characters or the comic plot work. It already failed. It’s been brought back to be limiting not empowering. The fan expectations are too high for this OLD vehicle. It’s not super woman. It’s super girl. She has to lack confidence and act like a pollyanna and be a little cousin and an apprentice and she is representing the wonder bread and the hostess twinkies. It has shelf life but you stay malnourished. In terms of brown and black actresses being usurped by paler/ biracial or passing whites… okay…it’s true that was/is happening. There was a commercial that had an Sicilian actor playing a native american indian crying at the sight of garbage. He went by the name of Iron Eyes. After that commercial he never stopped playing the part. Grade schools had don’t litter awareness campaigns because of this guy but he was a fake. The Spanish conquerors made many Mexicans hate the indigenous Indians… Catholicism encroached… And so, the white supremacy exists in that you police and shame one another by hating on the biracial people. You don’t want them to love their whole selves… The white still wins. You’re doing it for them.
        You’re fighting the wrong power. Killing off your own allies. Never meeting your real friends. And for what? A comic book t.v. show?
        Anyhow… thanks for your time reading…

        Like

  6. The one problem within this article is that it’s creating two issues when there’s really only one: the casting of a non-Latino woman to play a Latina character. Maggie Smith is Latina. That’s in the writing and informs everything she does. It’s great that they decided to write the character this way. What’s infuriating is the long-standing tradition of not casting actual Latinos to play Latino parts. The issue of misrepresentation, the lack of work for Latino actors, basically everything else talked about is absolutely on point.

    Like

    1. Wouldn’t it have been something if Jennifer Lopez was not cast as the maid in that movie “Maid in Manhattan” with Ralph Fiennnes (BTW, his bro, Joseph is playing MICHAEL JACKSON???? LOL) and instead they cast Marisa Tomei or Annabella Sciorra or Jen Esposito or Asia Argento or Monica Bellucci?

      Like

  7. This is a frustrating article for a few reasons. Look, I’m upset and angry that the CW marketed Maggie Sawyer specifically as Latina and then didn’t deliver. That’s frustrating and needs to be called out but the casual dismissal of this woman’s own culture and appearance is gross.

    Ask yourself the last time you saw an Italian American actress with Southern background (meaning her family hails normally from Sicily but at least south of Rome) cast as a “regular” white girl in media. I’ll wait. There’s a depressing reason that a lot of these Italian and Greek women are coded as Latina by Hollywood. Because our view of “whiteness” is so utterly wrecked in the US that anyone who looks specifically ethnic isn’t “white” enough to play the regular white roles. I can guarantee you that this actress doesn’t work regularly unless she’s going out for “ethnic” roles. She’s too dark. Her nose is too ethnic. Face too ethic. Italian Americans who hail from the south have a complex relationship with race in this country for good reason. They are told they are “white” their whole lives because Europe gets coded white but they don’t feel as “white” as some of their other more Anglo looking friends nor are they perceived that way. That whole “what are you?” Question? I’ve got news for you…a lot of dark Italian women get that too. Constantly. White supremacy is a powerful, awful thing. So where do women like this fit? Not dark enough to be POC but not white enough to be truly white. Have white privilege but still feel rejected by white beauty standards on some level even though told you are white. Do you get why this is s fustercluck of complexity? Look, we need to talk about the issue of true Latino representation because that’s real. But do not come for this woman’s skin or cultural experience because if you think it’s the same as say a Jennifer Lawrence or Emma Stone or Scarlett Johansson…think again. White supremacy is a vicious beast and even within the “white” community (which is filled with BS because a lot of Southern Italians have Arab blood and basically are POC it’s just been long denied) there is a lot of complexity when it comes to color.

    Like

  8. @Becca “Italians aren’t POC in the United States and they never have been. They are white. “. AU contraire. Learn your history.

    Sicilian Americans (AKA the immigrants that came from the poorest regions of the country and were ethnically the darkest) not only were not viewed as white but they were essentially pressured to assimilate and align themselves with the “real” white folk as a way to discourage them aligning with other people of color. It was a power move by the whitest people to divide and conquer. Even after they did they were still casually viewed as the “lower class” white people. Then they married a lot outside the culture which diluted the bloodlines because a lot of Italian men preferred blond white women and rejected their own women. (Notice the wife in the infamous Godfather movie is a WASP. The Italian women in the movie are killed off brutally or beaten by their husbands–a common theme in media with Italians.)

    A lot of Sicilian Americans are not white. The women in particular have gotten a raw deal as even the media that glamorized Italian culture through crap gangster stereotypes usually abandoned the women/cheated on them or outright killed them when they weren’t portraying them as old women “mamas” to whatever guy the story was trying to glamorize. It’s legit messed up that people don’t realize this.

    Like

  9. Sorry, but if getting a nice tan means that someone is a POC, then at least half of Northern Europeans are potentially POC as well. Yes, Italians have Arab and Moorish roots. But then again, literally all Europeans have roots that come from the Middle East or elsewhere.

    Like

  10. Although let me also point out that accusing Lima of purposely hitting up a tanning both to evilly steal jobs from LatinX folks is stupid as hell. Most southern Europeans have times of being more tanned and times of being less tanned. Tanning is a normal, natural process.

    Like

  11. I have found over the years, that in America and Hollywood in particular, it’s about what you look like, not who you really are. Case in point, recall when the Welsh, Catherine Zeta-Jones played Latina in the Zorro remake with Antonia Banderas (A Spaniard)? WOWWWW!!!!!!!

    I know some Puerto Ricans who look Arabic. I know Whites who look Black and Blacks who look White. I often get mistaken for Latina, but I don’t have a per se “Latina” bone in my body and you can’t count my Italian heritage because although it’s European with Latin roots in terms of language, it is not Latin in the sense of today’s word.

    A word about Jennifer Lopez playing Italians. To me, she does not look Italian at all, and I always wondered who they would cast as her father in the Wedding Planner and there was one other movie she was in wherein the late Denis Farina played her dad. LOL (Suspension of disbelief there.)

    Did anyone see Brookyln? A Jewsih actor played an Italian and going all the way back to Westside Story how come Rita Moreno didn’t play Maria instead of the olive-skinned and dark-eyed, Natalie Wood? Hmmm

    America, you are so fixated on race and surface aesthetics and it will never change as long as humans walk Earth.

    Like

    1. Can I say a bit of a shame they chose to do another prequel would have liked to see a post Voyager show. Maybe show a storyline where a bunch of Romulan refugees end up in Federation borders.

      Like

  12. People seem to just want anything Star Trek. I will check it out just to see how they present SMG’s character. I have had issues with the latest installments of Star Trek. Pine is a little weak as Kirk and I don’t like what they did to Spock and Uhura, and I hate “seeing” Sophia Boutella behind all that creature makeup, but at least she got a role. Wonder how they will handle Chekov? I heard they were not gonna re-cast the role. CGI, like Peter Cushing in Rogue One?

    Like

  13. So while i agree with this post in somw aspects I don’t agree with others like whitewashing she is not latina and while i would like latinx characters I’m watching an american show where normally people are american and that’s perfectly fine too because acting is acting and anyone can act as a latinx character because then queer characters shouldn’t be played by neither floriana lima or chyler leigh because they are not queer?! Also the most important thing to say about this is how ignorant sounds when you make me get the idea that white latinos are not equally latinos with white latinos so lets not be stupid and lets consider that america is a continent of immigrants where people of all colors and races can consider themselves latinos. I as a white latina feel offended because I’m not a poc, I’m so white that if you saw me you wouldn’t think I’m latina because I’m don’t have any kind of native american blood because i have italian and spanish heritage but it doesn’t make me any less of a latina. So if you are gonna write an article about such an important subject as latinx representation you should know that latinx is a culture and it involves people of all colors and languages

    Like

Comments are closed.