The daughter of Cuban immigrants, Torres said that there was a time when she had to audition for a role several times early in her career because she didn’t fit the producers’ ideas of American beauty.
“You’re too charming and they didn’t want to confuse the audience,” Torres told Recall.
Afro-Latino actors like Torres are “hidden in plain sight,” she said, as Hollywood casts them for Black roles because they “don’t look Latino.”
Over the past three decades, Torres has brought his artistry to roles in series such as “Suits,” “Firefly,” “24,” “Hannibal” and many more.
But more recently, when Torres said she’s stopped sacrificing one part of her identity over another, has she felt like she’s had a significant victory when it comes to on-screen representation.
“I need to speak my language (Spanish) whenever possible. I need to let the audience know that this is also a face of Latinidad,” Torres told the listener.
The change made a difference for Torres, who sees his role as Tommy Vega as “beautifully dressed” and, more importantly, “a fully realized human being”—something written of color. Characters are often lacking.
“It was incredibly important to me because often marginalized people are not really portrayed as being fully human. They are not given the same amount of attention, they are not given the same amount of time, They are not given family,” Torres said.
Torres will continue to star in “9-1-1: Lone Star,” which has been renewed for a third season, and aims to continue to shape new, stronger characters of color through more productive projects.
“It’s just part of who they are and how they see the world in certain ways,” Torres said. “At the end of the day, we are all human.”
Name: Gina Torres
work: actress and producer
Projects you have worked on: “9-1-1: Lone Star,” “Suits,” “Pearson,” “Firefly”
year in entertainment: 33
Master: “I’ve had many mentors throughout my career. I can’t say this is one person who took me on hand. I was so lucky to have Diehan Carroll in my life as a woman who had seen it all, Knocked on so many doors and exceeded anyone’s expectations of what he is capable of.”
Latina…de donde?: First Generation Cuban American, Afro Latina
Trope I will disappear from TV forever: “Spicy. I don’t have to explain it.”
Latinx actor/actress I think will be a huge star one day: “I will say that lately, I’ve been so impressed and proud of Julissa Calderone’s performance in ‘Gente-Fide.’ That whole cast is really beautiful, but she’s an Afro Latina, when she first I gasped when she appeared on screen. It made my heart so happy that she was in her beautiful brownness and spoke Spanish with a beautiful family. She’s so talented. Isabel Arraza who is my co-star in ‘Pearson’ -The cast was, and Michelle Ventimilla, who appeared in ‘The Baker and the Beauty’.
Latinx shows I wish everyone was watching/watched: “‘The Baker and the Beauty’ – It’s worth more than a season. I still hope someone will correct it and say, ‘Let’s get this cast back together.’ It was such a beautifully done show. It was a family story and all the things that a family goes through, they just became Latino and for me, that’s progress. Just to experience something other than White America One day, nothing is more powerful than that.”
The overused line to be executed when passing on Latinos for a project:
“When I was casting for ‘Pearson,’ there was an actress who came from Miami and one of the producers said, ‘The way I portrayed this character, you know, she was born here, She has been here, she is not an immigrant. I said ‘What? Why are we having this conversation? I don’t understand.’ The producer said he had an accent. Having an accent doesn’t mean you weren’t born here. For me that was a plus, it was kind of something amazing to explore and see on screen, but It gave him away. It’s such small things.
Here’s what I think all industry professionals can do to help increase the representation of Latinx on television:
“Hire us. It’s not that hard. We need to be in front of the camera, behind the camera, we need to write the words, we need to direct these stories. There’s a lot of room in the industry. If we Let’s all get together and create a system by which we can nurture each other’s talents, bring people under one umbrella and bring them to the bottom. Then the pool widens so that you have more to choose from and to choose from. To be more.”