The Dominican-American actress, who plays inmate Dayanara Diaz on OITNB, got candid with Vivala about the pressure to fit in with the Hollywood norm.
“We have to be ‘Fake Latinas,'” Polanco, who describes herself as Afro-Latina, said. “And here’s the thing about ‘Fake Latinas’ — when you look at Latinas who are succeeding in Hollywood, they’re super-thin and you really can’t tell if she’s Latina or not.”
Polanco didn't single any actress out, but noted that being thin and having fair features is a game-changer for Latina stars.
"I was growing up and not thinking that I was good enough," she shared. "I just thought, ‘Oh my God, if only I had lighter eyes. If only I had lighter hair. If only I was skinny. Oh my god, if I was a size 0, I know I would get more work. I could play an Italian right now! This is why you’re not getting a job... For [my features] to not be accepted as something that can be represented in a film or in such a way that it’s ‘acceptable,’ it’s offensive."
Polanco, who has been outspoken about designers not wanting to dress her because of her size, added that she doesn't see herself represented in Hollywood.
"When I look at all these articles, these magazines, I don’t see Latinos," she told Vivala. "They’re Black or white. I look at all these articles like, ‘All the Powerful Women of Hollywood’ and I don’t see a Latina in it. Or just one Latina. It’s like, ‘If you’re gonna have one, you can only have one. You can’t have a couple. You can’t acknowledge [multiple] people.’ It’s disappointing, as an actor, not to see that. Latinas have so much culture, and such richness, and we bring so much life.”
On the bright side, Polanco has landed on a show that's been praised for its casting of Latinas from different backgrounds. But Orange is the New Black is the exception, not the rule. Why aren't more shows following its lead?
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