Selenis Leyva and J.W. Cortes Break Down Barriers in Hollywood
Latinos like Selenis Leyva, from Orange is The New Black, and J.W. Cortes, from Gotham, are making their mark in the arts.
In Hollywood, Latinos are shining on shows like Orange is The New Black and Jane the Virgin, but they continue to be underrepresented, according to the Comprehensive Annenberg Report on Diversity. “Latinos are among the least represented speaking roles in film and TV, even though they make up about 17.4 percent of the U.S. population,” says the report.
Bringing light to the subject, Selenis Leyva, from Netflix's Orange is the New Black, and J.W. Cortes, from the CW's Gotham, joined People en Español for its fifth annual Festival to talk about their journey to stardom and how Latinos can break into Hollywood.
Leyva reminisced about the moment she knew she made it as an actress. “[It was] the day that I went to Starbucks and everybody recognized me,” she says. The actress added she is proud to be a part of a cast in which Latinas are just as important as their Caucasian counterparts on the series.
In order for Latinos to make an impact, it all has to start in the writer's room — and Cortes advises aspiring actors to be prepared. “We have to be that much better than everyone else,” he said.
On top of giving their all in their current roles in OITNB and Gotham, both actors are voicing their opinions on the upcoming presidential election. Cortes spoke about his partnership with HBO's Habla y Vota, a special featuring Latino personalities explaining the importance of voting as a community in this election. Leyva ended the panel urging Latinos to unite and realize the power they have to vote against Republican candidate Donald Trump.