LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION: “Jane the Virgin” has improved representation for latinx actors, according to star Jaime Camil, because it doesn't rely on harmful stereotypes; it's more complex and realistic.
Photo: Lionel Deluy

Over the past few years, television has gotten a lot more diverse, in large part due to shows like CW’s “Jane the Virgin.” Actor Jaime Camil, who plays telenovela star Rogelio de la Vega, knows firsthand the importance of portraying Latinos in a realistic light instead of relying on stereotypes.

“With our position and influence in each project, we must make an effort to debunk the repulsive stereotypes we are sometimes put in,” Camil explains. “This is why I love “Jane the Virgin.” [It] represents Latinos not as a caricature, but as the many million middle class Americans that make this country so diverse and rich.”

Behind the scenes

“For us, being Latino is not about one month, it is about living every day proud of our heritage and where we come from.”

Diversity comes in many forms: racial, ethnic, gender, geographic and economic. However, most film and television studios fail to depict accurate representations of America and the people who inhabit it. Camil believes that, to continue to be successful, directors will have to be more mindful.

“We are moving in the right direction and we have many organizations fighting to make [inclusion] a reality, but the main problem is hiring the right people for the job in studios and networks,” he explains.

A recent report by the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism found that more than half of 2016’s top 100 films featured no speaking characters who were Hispanic.

“You can't have a person in charge of the international division if they don't even know the difference between Brazil and the rest of the Latin American countries.”

Humble beginnings

Camil was born in Mexico City, the son of a Mexican businessman and a mother who sang. Jaime initially followed in his mom’s footsteps, releasing records which include “Para Estar Contigo” and “Una Vez Mas.” He credits his family for filling his life with support, joy and orgullo.

“We don't celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month,” he explains. “For us, being Latino is not about one month, it is about living every day proud of our heritage and where we come from.”