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Eva Longoria: ‘I won’t be dictated to about ethnicity’

Eva Longoria says Hollywood “gatekeepers” are often white men who try to “dictate” ethnicity.
The Latina actress is among a host of stars featured in The New York Times article ‘What It’s Really Like to Work in Hollywood* (*If you’re not a straight white male)’.
In the article, Eva, as well as Julia Roberts, Queen Latifah and America Ferrera, all give their thoughts on the issue of stereotyping within the film industry and dealing with issues of sexism and racism.
“Some white male casting director was dictating what it meant to be Latino,” the Telenovela star explained, recalling one incident where she was criticised for not sounding or looking ethnic enough for a role. “He decided I needed an accent. He decided I should (have) darker coloured skin.
“The gatekeepers are not usually people of colour, so they don’t understand you should be looking for way more colours of the rainbow within that one ethnicity.”
Ugly Betty actress America shared similar experiences, revealing she was once asked to sound “more Latino” while delivering lines during a commercial shoot.
“I genuinely didn’t realise until later that she was asking me to speak English with a broken accent,” she said. “From the get-go of my career I thought, ‘There’s a certain box or a certain way that you’re seen,’ which I didn’t feel growing up.”
Hollywood star Julia has also had her fair share of battles and highlighted her discomfort over movie scenes she thought were unnecessarily sexualised. The actress felt she wasn’t being “fully understood” when she objected to shooting a clip in a mini skirt for Erin Brockovich, and was relieved when director Steven Soderbergh became attached to the film – for which she won an Oscar.
“Steven and I were very in sync about how we wanted to portray everything about her,” Julia said. “The sexiness as well as the soul – and I didn’t have to wear a micro-mini shimmying down a well to do that.”
Queen Latifah recalled being asked to lose weight for the TV show Living Single and to this day, she feels happy she resisted pressures from her bosses. The actress insisted it will always be “her choice” when it comes to how she looks.
Both Queen Latifah and Eva have been carving out work as directors in recent years and they also discussed how frustrating they found it when male colleagues were surprised by their knowledge and control of the role.

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