America Ferrera Says Making Greta Gerwig ‘Barbie’ Latina Helped Her Land The Role

In a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, award-winning actress America Ferrera opened up about her experiences in the entertainment industry, shedding light on the evolving landscape of casting choices and the importance of diverse representation. Ferrera, known for her roles in projects like “Ugly Betty” and “Superstore,” discussed how the character’s ethnicity played a pivotal role in securing her latest role as Barbie and how the industry is gradually expanding its horizons.

For much of Ferrera’s career, roles that weren’t explicitly written for Latina characters were often out of reach. The actress candidly shared, “For the majority of my career, I have not been considered for roles that weren’t written specifically Latina.” This limitation, she believes, influenced the industry’s perception of her capabilities and the range of roles available to her.

However, Ferrera expressed gratitude for the transformative opportunity presented by Greta Gerwig, who cast her as Barbie in an upcoming film. Gerwig made a deliberate choice to write the character as Latina, breaking away from the conventional casting norms. Ferrera emphasized, “The gift of what Greta offered me is that she actually did write the Barbie part as Latina.” This departure from the usual casting approach opened up a new avenue for Ferrera and challenged the stereotype of characters confined by their ethnic backgrounds.

Importantly, Ferrera highlighted that while the character was written as Latina, it wasn’t a stereotypical Latina role. “Being Latina was not the purpose of the character. She got to be a full human and representative of so many things. It wasn’t a ‘check the box’ kind of casting,” Ferrera explained. This nuanced approach allowed her to portray a character with depth and complexity, transcending the boundaries of conventional casting practices.

The actress noted a positive shift in recent years, with more opportunities arising for roles not explicitly tailored for Latinas. Ferrera cited her casting in “Dumb Money,” where Black and white actresses were also under consideration. “That’s fantastic, to be in the running for a role that’s not written specifically for a woman of color on the page. That’s new for me after 22 years of working and being in this industry,” she remarked.

Reflecting on the industry’s broader trends, Ferrera emphasized the necessity of open-minded casting to foster diversity. “It’s really about the lanes that you’re allowed to play in, right?” she noted, drawing inspiration from Viola Davis’s impactful Emmy speech: “You can’t win awards for roles that don’t exist.” The actress stressed the importance of having a variety of roles available to build a rich and diverse career filled with dynamic characters.

Having embarked on her career in 2002 with “Real Women Have Curves,” a film with a Latina focus, Ferrera has since played numerous Latina characters. Notably, her role in “Ugly Betty” has experienced a resurgence through TikTok, sparking conversations about a potential revival. Ferrera expressed her openness to revisiting the character, acknowledging the cultural relevance that “Ugly Betty” still holds today.

In navigating the challenges of rights and logistics, Ferrera remains optimistic about the impact of the show’s renewed popularity. “Either way, it’s wonderful for me that ‘Ugly Betty‘ is having this moment with people who weren’t even alive when we made it the first time around. It’s still so pertinent to the culture,” she shared.

America Ferrera‘s journey reflects the industry’s gradual evolution toward more inclusive casting practices, showcasing the power of intentional and diverse storytelling in shaping a vibrant and representative cinematic landscape.

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