Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Betcha Didn't Know...?

Some of the most notable names from the dawn of film and television are of Latino descent. Here are some of them.

In this edition, some Latinos who have often played by and are often assumed to be strictly Caucasians.

Alexis Bledel (1981- ), born Kimberly Alexis Bledel Dozier al estilo latino, is an actress. She is known for her roles as Rory Gilmore in the WB television series "Gilmore Girls" and Lena Kaligaris in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 (both films opposite América Ferrera). Born in Houston, Texas, U.S.A., to a Mexican mother and an Argentinean father of Danish descent. Her first language is Spanish, and she did not learn English until she began school. Her mother encouraged her to try community theater when she was a child to overcome her shyness. As a child, she appeared in local productions of Our Town and The Wizard of Oz. She was scouted at a local shopping mall and given work as a fashion model. She went to Page Parkes Center for Modeling and Acting and attended NYU's Tisch School of the Arts. She made her TV debut on "Gilmore Girls" in 2000. She made her film debut in Tuck Everlasting. In 2005, she starred in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants based on the book by Ann Brashares. Also that year, she portrayed Becky, a prostitute, in the movie Sin City. Other film credits include I'm Reed Fish, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2, Post Grad, The Good Guy, The Kate Logan Affair and The Conspirator (the last of which is directed by Robert Redford). In May 2009, she returned to the modeling world, signing a contract with the modeling division of IMG. She returned to the stage in 2011 when she joined the cast of the play Love, Loss, and What I Wore, a hit off- Broadway show written by Nora Ephron and Delia Ephron.

Louis C.K. (1966- ), born Louis Székely Davis al estilo latino in Washington, District of Columbia, U.S.A., is a stand-up comedian, Emmy Award-winning television and film writer, actor, producer and director. He currently stars in the FX comedy series "Louie," which he also writes, directs, and edits. Born to an Irish mother and a Mexican father of Hungarian descent. As a child, he moved to Mexico City, D.F., Mexico and lived there until the age of seven. His first language is Spanish, and he still retains his Mexican citizenship. Upon moving from Mexico to Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.A., he discovered he wanted to become a writer and comedian, citing George Carlin, Bill Cosby and Richard Pryor as some of his influences. After high school, he worked as an auto mechanic in Boston before summoning the courage to try stand-up. He gradually moved up into paid gigs and hosted comedy clubs until he moved to New York City. His credits as a writer include "Late Show with David Letterman," "Late Night with Conan O'Brien," "The Dana Carvey Show" and "The Chris Rock Show." His work for "The Chris Rock Show" was nominated for an Emmy Award three times, including winning "Best Writing in a Variety or Comedy Series" in 1999. He was also nominated for an Emmy Award for his work writing "Late Night with Conan O'Brien." However, the feature film born from the Chris Rock sketches, Pootie Tang, which he wrote and directed became an instant cult classic. He was also nominated for an Emmy Award for writing on his 2008 special, "Chewed Up." With Chris Rock, he has written the films, Down to Earth and I Think I Love My Wife. He has also written the film Tomorrow Night and several short films for the Showtime network. As a stand-up comedian he has performed frequently on "Late Show with David Letterman," "Late Night with Conan O'Brien," "López Tonight," " The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" and "Jimmy Kimmel Live." He has appeared in solo specials for HBO and Showtime. His stand-up special Hilarious is the first stand-up comedy film to be accepted into the Sundance Film Festival. As an actor, he starred in the HBO sitcom "Lucky Louie," (which he co-created). The series premiered on HBO and was videotaped in front of a live studio audience; it was HBO's first series in that format. He also appeared in the films Role Models, Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins, Diminished Capacity and The Invention of Lying; and in a multi-episode story arc on NBC’s "Parks and Recreation." In August 2009, FX picked up his series "Louie," where he stars, writes, directs, and edits. The show features his stand-up routines blended with skits of things that have happened in his life.

Joanna García (1979- ), born Joanna Leanna García, is an actress. She is perhaps best known for her portrayal of Cheyenne Hart-Montgomery on The CW sitcom "Reba." She currently stars in the ABC sitcom "Better With You." Born in Tampa, Florida, U.S.A. to a Spanish-American mother and a Cuban father, she first started performing at age 10 when she auditioned for a local theater production and landed the lead. She was discovered by the Disney Channel, but her parents put school first and she continued to feed her passion by acting in local plays. While attending high school, she was discovered by Nickelodeon and starred for two seasons as Samantha on "Are You Afraid of the Dark?" She later guest starred in "seaQuest DSV," "Second Noah" and "The Adventures of Superboy," and acted in several movies of the week. She was cast on the television drama "Party of Five," playing the recurring character Hallie and had a recurring role as Vicki Appleby on "Freaks and Geeks." She then played Cheyenne Hart-Montgomery, Reba's (Reba McEntire) oldest daughter on The CW sitcom "Reba" (2001-2007). Currently she stars in the ABC sitcom "Better With You." Since her marriage to New York Yankees outfielder Nick Swisher in 2010, she is also known professionally as Joanna García Swisher. She speaks Spanish fluently.

James Roday (1976–), born James David Rodríguez in San Antonio, Texas, U.S.A. to Mexican parents, is an actor and screenwriter. He currently stars in the USA Network television series "Psych" as fake psychic Shawn Spencer. At New York University's Experimental Theatre Wing, he studied theater and earned a bachelor's degree in fine arts. At age 22, he selected the name "James Roday" because there was another "James Rodríguez" registered in the Screen Actor's Guild. He is the co-artistic director of Red Dog Squadron, a Los Angeles theater company he co-founded with Brad Raider. With Red Dog Squadron, he has acted in various theatrical productions, including The Three Sisters, Twelfth Night, A Respectable Wedding, Severity's Mistress and Sexual Perversity in Chicago. He has also starred in the 2003 film Rolling Kansas and appeared in the 2005 film adaptation of The Dukes of Hazzard as Billy Prickett, and in the 2006 film Beerfest. Behind the scenes, he and writing partners Todd Harthan and James DeMonaco wrote the screenplay for the film Skinwalkers. His television credits include starring roles on "Miss Match," "First Years." He co-wrote and directed the season 4 finale episode of "Psych" entitled "Mr. Yin Presents."

Michele Greene (1962- ), born Michele Marguerite Greene Domínguez al estilo latino in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.A. and also known as Michele Domínguez Greene, is an actress, singer-songwriter and novelist, perhaps most well-known for her role as attorney Abigail "Abby" Perkins in "L.A. Law" (opposite Jimmy Smits) from 1986-1991. She returned to that role in 2002 for the TV "reunion" film L.A. Law: The Movie. Born to a Mexican-Nicaraguan mother and an Irish father, she started acting after enrolling in a high-school drama class; she had chosen the class to help her overcome her extreme shyness. Her mother Dorita Domínguez, an accomplished guitarist, singer and dancer, formed an all-girl trio with her sisters, Carmen and Guadalupe, performing in the early days of television in Los Angeles with the legendary producer Klaus Landsberg. After high school, she auditioned for and was accepted to the Bachelor of Fine Arts program at the University of Southern California, entering on a scholarship and beginning her formal training as an actor. During her college years she began working in television, appearing in numerous guest shots and television movies. Shortly after graduation, she landed the ensemble role of "Judy Nuckles" in the short-lived Steven Bochco series "Bay City Blues." When that was cancelled, Bochco kept her in mind and offered her the Abby Perkins role on "L.A. Law." The show was a critical and commercial success, winning many Emmys and garnering her a nomination in the Best Supporting Actress category. She appeared on the show for five seasons, leaving to pursue her musical career and stretch her acting challenges. Other television credits include "The Dukes of Hazzard," "CSI," "Cold Case," "Nip/Tuck," "Stargate SG-1," "Bones," "Brothers and Sisters" and "Big Love" (where she had a recurring role). She continues to work steadily in television and film. She devoted more and more time to music and writing, leading to the release of her two critically acclaimed, bilingual, world music CDs, Ojo de Tiburón and Luna Roja. Her debut young adult novel, Chasing The Jaguar, was published by Harper Collins in June 0f 2006. Her new novel, Keep Sweet, will be released by Simon and Schuster in March 2010. Her early involvement in the arts had a profound effect on her and it has fueled her interest in working with inner city youth to promote literacy and drama through her own foundation, Adelante Arts. She gives writing and drama workshops at schools and in other youth programs around the country.

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1 comment:

LeNair Xavier said...

I thought the idea of a Latin-American changing their name to something more accepting to the racism of white Americans in media was something that is only done in the world of gay porn. You've posted this feature enough times that it shows that creating a name that hides one's Latin heritage is not unique to gay adult entertainment after all. Instead, it is done throughout the American visual entertainment industry OVERALL.

Which brings to mind this question: While it does keep more people of Latin descent employed in the American entertainment industry, how does it instill Latin pride when their Latin pride is kept hidden by a name change - a name change probably suggested by an agent or manager?