Xochitl Gomez on the Importance of Latinx Representation in 'The Baby-Sitters Club'
The actress talks to CHICA about playing Dawn in Netflix's new adaptation of the beloved series.
Though the first Baby-Sitters Club book debuted in 1986, the novels remain super-popular with kids all over the world, so it's no surprise that Netflix's new TV adaptation was an immediate hit when it debuted earlier this month. Xochitl Gomez, who plays Dawn in the show, was born a full 20 years after Kristy's Great Idea hit stores, but she still spent her elementary school years reading the series.
"When I read the books, I didn't see myself in them," she tells People CHICA. "I always thought of myself as a Dawn, and once I knew that [Netflix] was open to casting Dawn as a Latina, I was like, 'Oh my gosh!' Not only is that my favorite character and I relate to her the most, but they're letting her be Latina."
The original book series was unusually inclusive by '80s and '90s standards, but the new show has taken it even further, adding a storyline about a transgender client of the club and, of course, reinventing Dawn, who in the novels was white with blond hair and blue eyes.
"I honestly can't even tell you how important it is to me that a Latina character and her family are represented on the show," the Mexican American actress says of the change. "Growing up, I never really saw anyone who looked like me, probably like most Latino girls. It was like our lives weren't interesting enough to entertain people, which is completely not true at all. I was so happy that I wasn't just a maid or a gang member or a bikini girl. I'm so happy that things are finally shifting. It's so great to be on a show where a Latina is important and valued for her abilities and her loyalty and her friendship."
Season two of the show hasn't yet been confirmed, but Xochitl already has ideas about what Dawn and the rest of BSC should get into in future episodes. "I have two favorite books, books 30 and 31. They're about Dawn and Mary Anne's parents when they get married," she says. "I love the books so much. They have so much story and a huge arc, and you also see drama between the girls' friendships, which I feel like people would really relate to." (If you're interested in checking out her faves, she's talking about Mary Anne and the Great Romance and Dawn's Wicked Stepsister.)
Gomez would also like to see an episode devoted to Dawn's Latinx heritage, similar to the one where Claudia learned her grandmother had been in an internment camp during World War II. "I just want an episode where we can talk about Latino issues, because it's very important, especially to me," she shares, adding that she'd particularly like to see a story about migrant children being held in detention centers. "I would love to see our show talk about it, even just for 25 minutes."
Though she's still only 14, Gomez already has plans to expand her career in the future and wants to become more active behind the camera. "I really hope to direct, act, and produce, and maybe start to figure out editing," she says. "I definitely want to do all of that in one movie or TV show. But for now I want to start doing little short films just on my own, maybe with a group of friends or something, and lead my way up there, because I know the only way I can get to that amazing movie with me doing four jobs all at once is by starting out now." Spoken like a true Dawn.