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Santiago Cabrera. Photo: Decider
Santiago Cabrera. Photo: Decider

Why Latinx actors need Latinx writers, according to Santiago Cabrera

Why should the role of a New York high schooler be played by a Caucasian? Why, if someone of color appears in film is it in a stereotypical role?

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In a recent interview, Chilean actor Santiago Cabrera, known for his roles as a prince in GodmotheredStar Trek: Picard and Dexter, tried to articulate his position on the lack of Latino diversity in Hollywood.

After a long career in the industry, which includes television series from the previous decade like Heroes or Merlin, and almost 20 years after his formal training in English theater, he has a long list of reasons to stand up for representation

While talking to Samantha Labat for CinemaBlend, Cabrera said he first had to understand how 'Latino' was viewed in the industry. 

"When I first arrived here as a Latin American I realized very quickly that, being Latino, I was seen as a race and not as a culture... I think, in an ideal world, we would just cast people for being people, you know?" he said.

He continued to warn about the main problem when it comes to conceiving diversity is that it is a misunderstood question of quotas.

To improve, it would not be so much a matter of "filling in" with races or forcing their appearance in the text, but a much bigger mental step that involves understanding that borders are extremely porous and the world is mestizo and much closer to a global village.

Cabrera's own trajectory endorses this global mestizo mindset. Born in Caracas, Venezuela, but with Chilean nationality because his parents were on a diplomatic mission, the family moved to Canada when he was two years old. They returned to Chile when Santiago was a teenager.

He left for London for four years to study at the Drama Centre until 2005 and then settled in the United States to start working on series for ABC and NBC.

"We would no longer have the need to say 'OK, we have to mix all these people of color.' It would simply be 'These are the stories and these are the right people for these stories.'" he continued. "I think when you're a minority in this country and in this industry it's hard enough for everybody you know to be an actor and be able to practice... If I'm going to be a Latino on the show then there needs to be a couple of Latino writers because otherwise, you know, what would they know about what I really am?"

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