"Riverdale" actress Camila Mendes admits that even though she hasn't been in Hollywood for too long, she has already become familiar with being told she's "not Latina enough."
The Brazilian star told People Chica, "I’m pretty new to Hollywood, but I’m already starting to see the issues in how some projects are cast. I often hear things like, 'You don’t look Latina enough,' and that mentality is so backwards. The fact is: I am Latina, so how are you going to tell me that I don’t look Latina?" Unfortunately, this is something other Latina celebs like Gina Rodriguez and Dascha Polanco are used to hearing, too.
While casting directors may keep the 23-year-old from portraying Latinas on screen, she prioritizes staying connected to her culture in her personal life.
"I speak Portuguese to my parents so that I can practice. I stay engaged with my extended family through a lively group chat on WhatsApp. That sense of community and family is the heart of Brazilian culture, and staying engaged with my family is what keeps me connected," she said.
And having one's Latinidad questioned isn't the only thing Mendes recognizes as a struggle for Latinx talent.
Finding a role that doesn't perpetuate negative or demeaning stereotypes of the Latinx community proves to be easier said than done. She explained to Coveteur earlier this year, "I would go out for shows like 'Blue Bloods' and 'Shades of Blue,' and all of these crime dramas where they are looking for these foster child Latinas, like ‘underprivileged and urban,’ as they would say. I never really fit that stereotype, and I didn’t want to play a stereotype."
Thankfully, portraying Veronica Lodge in "Riverdale" steers away from the typical maid, nanny, or drug dealer we tend to see reflected in media.
"It’s just so refreshing to see a different story being told for Latin families. The Lodge family is a much-needed departure from the underprivileged, sleazy Latino drug-dealers we’re used to seeing in entertainment. It’s rare that you see Latin families being portrayed as intelligent, sophisticated, and powerful entities," she said.
Hopefully Hollywood will create more characters like Veronica to show the varied and lesser-seen spectrum of the Latina identity.