In order to accurately portray their stories, actress Michelle Veintimilla says Hollywood needs more Latino creators and actors. We talked to her about what needs to happen to make that a reality.
How has your success allowed you to be a proponent for more Latino inclusion in the arts?
I believe there is something to be said for being phenomenally Latin, and the undeniable talent Latinx people bring to the table. But the success I have been able to gain in my career so far only came when I started standing proudly in my own skin, and because of the trailblazing Latinx creatives who came before me and did the same.
I feel like I have the opportunity (and, more importantly, the obligation) to continue to bank and insist on myself and others like me, and to leave every door I walk through open a little wider for all other Latinx creatives who are on this path toward inclusion with me.
Why is representation in television so critical?
Hispanic and Latin Americans are the largest ethnic minority in our country. We are so tightly woven into the cultural (and financial) tapestry of our country that without us, frankly, it would unravel and fall apart. So, for those reasons alone, I believe we deserve to be seen.
However, representation is so critical because not only does it give everyone a peak into our gorgeous stories, but it forces us to defy our own expectations. I would have never dreamed of becoming an actress if I didn’t see Christina Vidal in “Taina,” or Adrienne Bailon in “The Cheetah Girls.” But they proved to me that it was possible, and quite literally changed my perspective on this world and my place in it.
My hope is that we will be given more chances to tell stories that go beyond drug cartels and illegal immigration. We deserve to be represented in Technicolor, and to share our stories of success, happiness and resilience.
Who would you say is your biggest role model and why?
My biggest role model would have to be my mother Maria. She is my Ecuadorian queen! She is effervescent, brilliant, and unapologetically herself, always. Though she may only be a performer at heart, she has shown me through example that with resilience and faith, anything is possible.
My biggest role model in our industry, however, is J. Lo (Jennifer Lopez) of course! When I was little, I was obsessed with old movie musicals and in awe of the performers who did it all — singing, dancing, and acting. And then one day I saw J. Lo in “Selena” and that really changed the game for me. She is still the truest example of a triple-threat today, trailblazing in every medium of entertainment there is, and that is so inspiring to me.
What would you say to any young Hispanic person that is looking to pursue a career in the arts?
To any young Hispanic person looking to pursue a career in the arts: Get curious about where you came from. Write your Abuela’s (or Mama’s, or Papi’s) story down and keep asking questions. The only way we are ever going to get our stories told authentically is if we tell them ourselves. Insist on yourself and believe your story has worth (our moment is now!). And of course, be kind.