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John Leguizamo. Photo: Guido Venitucci

John Leguizamo and the problem of colorism in Hollywood

The actor of Colombian descent has consistently brought the issue of colorism to the fore in Hollywood.

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Colombian actor John Leguizamo is giving people a lot to talk about after voicing the character of Bruno in the movie Encanto. However, this time, he is back in the spotlight after confessing that his Colombian roots and skin color often proved to be an obstacle in his professional career.

While the actor gets to celebrate his origins in the new Disney animated film, Leguizamo has spoken out about the "Latino actor" tag, and how it often prevented him from advancing his career. Leguizamo has revealed that for years he stayed out of the sun to avoid getting a tan because fair skin gave access to a wider range of roles to play in the industry.

In an interview for Deadline, the center of the conversation was colorism.

"There is colorism within Latino culture that we have to fix, but there is also colorism in Hollywood... All the Latinos who had succeeded until then, all of them, were light-skinned. But what about Afro-Latinos and the vast majority of Indigenous Latinos? They don't get a chance," he said.

Although the fight for inclusion and representation in the industry has won many battles, the cultural world still indirectly struggles with that discrimination. Leguizamo has been acting since the 1990s, and his roles often portrayed the Latino drug dealer, trafficker or criminal. 

And although these stereotypes are less frequent on screen these days, the actor has spoken out about how skin color has also been a source of discrimination. Leguizamo admitted to having benefited from having light skin and even went so far as to stay out of the sun to work for many years. 

"I don't want any child to go through what I went through. I don't want any Latino, white, Black or Asian kid to go through what I went through," the actor said.

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