John Leguizamo: Without Minority Voices, America's Story Is Only Half Told

Actor and Comedian
Over a year ago

American culture has been predominately representative of white stories for most, if not all, of its history. The majority of American movies lead with white actors, even when it’s not appropriate. Most recent and most famous, was Cameron Crowe’s 2015 rom-com Aloha, when Emma Stone was cast as Hawaiian. Then there was the cast of Exodus, which takes place in Egypt, yet has a white cast. And the early days of Hollywood... let’s not even go there. The shame is too much. Though director Ridley Scott has defended his decision and Cameron Crowe has apologized, people remain relatively mad about both. And rightly so.

When John Leguizamo (of Romeo Juliet, Moulin Rouge, Bloodline, and in the soon-to-be-released The Infiltrator), first tried to get his foot in the door of Hollywood, he came across the same problems most minorities face. There were not many parts available for non-white actors, and even fewer three-dimensional roles.

Leguizamo, and many actors like him, had to fight for every role he could get. Viola Davis had a wonderful moment that pushed these issues to light, when she won Outstanding Lead Actress for How to Get Away With Murder, a role that actually gave her a chance to show she could win an Emmy (her talent was always there, wasted on bit parts). Leguizamo took a different route, not waiting for opportunity but taking it. He wrote the roles he wanted for himself.

But things are slowly changing. The Black Lives Matter movement is still forcing our eyes open in the best possible, albeit tragic, way, and with police dash-cams and body-cams, it’s harder to deny the truth that minorities have always know and lived. But the divide is slowly closing, despite many in the Trump fan base trying to push it wider. Things have changed over the last few years – the headlines sound worse, but the fact that these things are on the agenda is a sign of the nation’s progress. The spread of smartphones and social media has allowed the issues to come forth, and Leguizamo is very optimistic about this. Someone in New York can be a witness to an event in Florida, as social media can broadcast it all in real time. Because of this freedom of observation, people are coming together more than ever, and steering the country in a more unified and progressive direction.

The Infiltrator is out now and stars John Leguizamo, Bryan Cranston, Diane Kruger and Amy Ryan.