John Leguizamo Was Advised To Pose As An Italian To Get Into Hollywood
The Encanto star shed light on the struggles Latino actors faced not so long ago.
Today, Hollywood has made significant strides in terms of diversity, with more non-white actors and actresses competing on equal footing with their Caucasian colleagues. However, this wasn't the case just a few decades ago, as many young non-white artists had to fight to break the mold of type casting and prove their talent.
John Leguizamo was one of the pioneers in this struggle, advocating for more visibility for Latino actors on screen for most of his career, which began in the 1980s.
In an interview with El País, the Colombian-born actor revealed that at the beginning of his career, his agents advised him to change his surname to Italian, which would have increased his chances of getting to Hollywood.
But Leguizamo refused, saying he would 'rather not find a job than pretend to be someone else.'
Though he eventually got his career off the ground, type casting didn't allow for much variety in his characters, as the actor had to portray drug dealers, terrorists, and gangsters. Playing all kinds of bad guys, Leguizamo ended up in on-screen gunfights with such Hollywood legends as Harrison Ford in Regarding Henry (1991) and Al Pacino in Carlito's Way (1993).