Upon joining the Twitter community this morning (yes, I'm social media shy), I discovered that the big news of the day is that Disney has announced its first Latina princess. Then another headline catches my eye: apparently Castro had a stroke. (But I didn't consider that big news since he's been looking - and acting - like shit for decades and, let's face it, probably died and was stuffed thirty years ago, with his physical movements controlled by a complex electronic system.)
So let's talk about this princess!
Naturally, the only thing people can talk about is the color of her skin, hair, and eyes. As you can probably guess, those Latinas with light skin and light eyes (they exist) were pleased and commented, "She looks like me!" The Latinas that have dark skin and eyes commented (I paraphrase), "What a crock of shit, she doesn't look Latina at all." What was my reaction?
Where the hell are they getting the notion of a Latina princess when there was never a monarchy in any Spanish-speaking country in the New World? And, more importantly, when are we going to get past this princess shit?
Seriously folks, let's assume (as they say) that the whole reason they're making a Latina princess character is to serve as an example for little girls everywhere. And what example does that set? That you first have to be born physically beautiful, something totally out of your control. You don't study hard for that shit. And second, you have to be born rich, or just drop dead gorgeous enough to buy your way into being rich...through marriage, obviously. And who said dowries are out of style? They're called boobs. And third, and I'm going on a limb here, you have to be vapid/demure enough to attract a man to "rescue" you from the meaningless existence of, what, being a woman? A non-rich woman? Unmarried? I'm actually at a loss here. What on earth is so wrong about just being a normal gal? And when do we get to the part in our society where we can expect "role-models" for girls to be like, "hey, I freaking aced my SATs!" Or, "fuck state college, I'm aiming for Harvard, bitches!" I'd kind of enjoy a role model like that -- I'd even watch it myself.
I know what Juanita thinks (follow her on Twitter!). But what do you all think?
We met our goal!
Thank you all so much for your generosity and amazing dedication in seeing this project to fruition!
You will soon be getting an email from Kickstarter requesting your mailing address. If you're anything like me, you will immediately become incredibly paranoid and question why anybody needs your address, and possibly ponder whether you should move to the Amazon just to make sure nobody finds you. Fret not, however: they are only asking for the address so I can send you all the rewards you have chosen for your contributions. None of your personal information will ever be shared.
Now that our Kickstarter campaign has finished, we are working hard to raise the remaining funds needed so that we can start production as soon as possible. White Alligator will most likely be shot this fall, and I will certainly keep everyone abreast of our milestones. If you'd like, for more updated information, you can sign up to "like" the Facebook page that we started specifically for this project (note: this is separate from the page Kickstarter started for us that you all have already liked). Not only will your "like" help us with eventual distribution, but it's a great way to stay connected with the White Alligator message forum. (I will continue posting interesting articles on relevant topics, as I have done with my Kickstarter updates.)
We have also revamped the film's website, www.whitealligatorthemovie.com
, and have included all your names as our backers. Yes, I drew those alligators by myself on Microsoft Paint. And yes, I'm currently looking for higher meaning in my life.
And on that note...
In the news this week: Jane White, Broadway and film actress, daughter of Walter White, the founder of the NAACP, died July 24. She had a nice little write up in the NYTimes: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/08/arts/jane-white-actress-and-singer-who-rebelled-against-racial-straitjacketing-dies-at-88.html?_r=2&hpw
A quote that caught my eye was: "I've just always been too 'white' to be 'black' and too 'black' to be 'white,' which, you know, gets to you after a while, particularly when the roles keep passing you by," taken from an interview in 1968. I guess this struck a cord, because it is my own story, except replace 'latino' with 'black', and you have White Alligator
in a nutshell. I would have never known who Jane White was if my husband hadn't sent me this article. But everyone knew who Paul Newman was when he died and he was on the cover of many magazines and mourned for years after. What was the difference, other than one was allowed to have a career because he didn't stradle two racial worlds and "confuse" people?
Another noteworthy article our director sent my way (subject of her email to me: The Help needs our help...): http://www.indiewire.com/article/2011/08/10/critics_notebook_how_movies_like_the_help_reinforce_hollywoods_race_problem
I read this book one boring Summer when I was temping. My thoughts: emotionally sucks you in and fun to read, but we've heard it all before. I was a bit shocked (but not really) to see it become a film so soon after the book's publishing. And it's funny, but one of my first thoughts when I saw the film's poster was, "what if Viola Davis wants to wear the pretty dress for a change?" (...and stop being the maid). I mean, honestly, it's a period piece being shot in 2011, we can all suspend our disbelief. Emma Stone's character could have easily been played by Zoe Saldana, and we all would have gotten what was going on.
And finally, for the hat trick: http://www.examiner.com/soap-opera-in-riverside/former-young-and-the-restless-star-francesco-quinn-dead-at-48
Now, not to be morbose and include another death in this email, but this news of Francesco Quinn's early death caught my eye for one reason: the article states that he was nominated for an ALMA award (American Latino Media Arts Award), the "Latino Oscars." The thing is, though, Mr. Quinn was actually Italian. Pause for dramatic effect. So, should we then rename these awards, GDMA (Generally Darker-Skinned-Than-Others Media Awards), if that's really what they're going for? When has Italian been considered Latino? Should we include Greeks in that grouping? And while we're at it, let's throw in Turkish people, why not, it's geographically close enough. Is Japan too far?
There is indeed a point to all these articles. I say, if the media has had trouble in the past with actors' ethnicities, and Hollywood has had trouble following its own rules on this front, let's just forget the whole thing. Why don't we take ethnicity out of the casting picture, shall we?
(Originally published on Kickstarter on August 4
Aliens have been spotted.
I'm just kidding! The miracle is that thanks to 148 backers - plus Angel Mercado's enthusiasm and generosity in increasing his pledge - we've reached our goal!
We're currently at $10,010, which is just so beautiful and almost perfectly symmetrical, that it makes me giggle. Thank you, all of you!
"But we still have 10 days to go until the end of the campaign," you may say. "What will we do now?"
We'll figure it out. But for now, we celebrate!
And on that note, I leave you with quite the interesting interview with Modern Family's Sofia Vergara:http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2011/07/29/sofia-vergara-on-david-beckham-tom-cruise-the-smurfs-modern-family-emmys.html
For our purposes, I've cut down the chit-chat and gotten to what I felt was at the heart of the interview. I've included my own responses to the interview as if I were sitting with Sofia and Marlow (the interviewer). I am notated by VL, for Viviana Leo.MS: Upon researching you for this interview, I read that you're actually a natural blonde. Why did you make the switch to brunette?
(VL: Oh, Marlow, you're terrible! I know where you're going with this, and I commend you. Let's see how this shakes out...)SV: Yes, I'm blonde. When I started as an actor, because of the accent and my body and my personality, it was not what the stereotype of the Latina woman in Hollywood is, so they didn't know where to put me. The blonde hair wasn't matching. The moment I put my hair dark, it was better for my work. I think I changed it five or six years ago, but I got used to it. It toned me down a little bit. Before, I was the blonde with big boobs and a big mouth. [Laughs] It toned me down and I really like it.
(VL: Interesting. Yes, we all face this question of whether to stick to our guns and not work, or sell out and become a household name. And we, the audience, allows this to happen! I myself had to take a stage name, and Ms. Vergara, I don't blame you in the least. No, I know what you're thinking, Marlow, I really don't. Had I been given that choice, who knows what may have been. For dyeing her hair, Ms. Vergara is now working often; whereas I, the white Latina, am writing and producing my own work, which truly is much harder and less cost effective. Thankfully, I have a cushy day-job and no children. But who's to say what the future brings. I do a killer Puerto Rican accent, and there's always darker foundation...)MS: Has being loud ever gotten you into hot water?
(VL: Wait a minute, I'm not finished. I'd like to address Ms. Vergara's statement, "they didn't know where to put me." How about the leading lady in a major Hollywood romantic comedy? How about the leading lady in pretty much anything?! Why's it gotta be about what piece of land we happen to be born on?!)
(Ms. Leo is now belligerent and has to be calmed down by security.
)MS: [As I was saying...] Has being loud ever gotten you into hot water?SV: It is what it is. Latins, we're like that! We're very passionate and very loud and we scream and shout, but then we forget.
(VL: Really? (silence
) Hmm. (a contemplative moment
) Well, I have always been quiet and shy myself. But what we're saying is that I'm actually supposed to be loud, and what else? Scream. Yes. Well, I do scream on the inside when I see injustice, but I tend to keep a level head at all times. Though I always assumed that was from my own unique personality. But maybe I'm wrong, maybe to be intelligent, level-headed and studious is actually a trait that all Latinos carry...oh wait, is that what you meant to say?)MS: Casting agents love to stereotype actresses in Hollywood, but you've really spun that around and made it work to your advantage.SV: I think I'm going to be stereotyped forever, but I'm not scared of being stereotyped. I'm Latin. I have this accent. I'm lucky that I got this role and showed people that I can be funny. I would never go and read for Schindler's List 2 because I know I'm not going to get the part. It's just a matter of finding the right roles for me. I'm never going to play a scientist or something crazy.
(VL: Indeed, science is crazy, isn't it? And it's just so insane to think of a Latino performing difficult scientific tasks! Oh my. It's just so beyond us. It's interesting, a great uncle comes to mind. According to my parents' stories, he worked on the Manhattan Project back in the '40s. Oh wait, my memory is also recalling my mother's cousin, Nestor, who is himself a backer for this project. He's a chemist who works in Washington. But seriously, other than those two individuals, I highly doubt a Latino could be believable as an actual scientist. Oh wait, my father also comes to mind. Weird. He's an anesthesiologist. And my cousin the neurologist. Gosh. Now I've got Latin scientists on the brain, and the names just keep coming! But what I really meant to address before is that I heard there will in fact be a Schindler's List 2
, because one really isn't enough. And guess what? I'll be there auditioning. Cause I do a phenomenal German accent, thanks to an accent coach, and that's really all it takes, isn't it? Did I mention I was a finalist for a role in Irena's Vow
on Broadway with Tovah Feldshuh, thanks to a Polish accent I perfected and killer acting skills? Let's all start dwelling in the possibilities, now, shall we?)