To ramp up excitement for the second season of Brooklyn Nine-Nine, which premieres on September 28th (squee!), Hispanic Living ran a fantastic profile piece on Melissa Fumero and Stephanie Beatriz, which includes the revelation that their characters’ ethnicities weren’t specified before they auditioned… the producers simply cast the best actresses for the roles they had available, then tweaked their bios to fit. Although I think writers have a responsibility to create diverse characters at the scripting stage, I can understand why Fumero would prefer to be cast in a colour-blind role on merit alone (“There wasn’t an agenda… I’m almost more proud of that than even the fact it’s such a diverse cast”)… though she’s also keen to assert the need for wider representation of her peeps on TV: “We want to see Latinos do more than be the maid, gangster or drug dealer. I know Latin people; they’re not like that. Hopefully people start writing and producing shows that reflect that. The views of Latinos (are) much more diverse. There’s a lot of us.” [On a side-note, she also acknowledges that she has “a very cartoony face”, bless her… and thank goodness she made the decision to get back into comedy, where it could serve her so well!]
Meanwhile, Beatriz has a very funny and self-deprecating* weekly column in Latina magazine, where she’s also addressed the issue of representation: “Slowly but surely, television is changing. The character stereotypes are changing, or being turned inside out by some fantastic writers and actors… People of color are on TV playing roles that are fleshed out, complex, human. And yes, some of those characters are maids. Some are sexy heartbreakers there to steal your man. Some own BBQ joints, while some are Chiefs of Staff. Some are prisoners, and some are cops. All are real people with hopes, dreams, ambitions, fears, and all the other vast human emotions and desires… This is important. Because young women are watching TV, and they are getting messages about who they are in the world, who the world will allow them to be. And in big important steps, television is showing a reflection back to those young women that YOU CAN BE WHATEVER THE HELL YOU DAMN WELL PLEASE… I think that’s a win for everybody.” Amen, sister.
* This week’s column was about the cystic acne that has plagued her since puberty, and how one particularly bad outbreak actually had to be digitally “airbrushed” out of an episode in post-production… her wider point being that celebrities generally have a team of people working to make them look good, so you shouldn’t feel bad if you don’t roll out of bed looking like a movie-star!