So, since the last time I wrote about the lack of racial diversity on The Walking Dead a lot of shit happened.
For starters, I got a shout out in La Cucaracha from POCHO Jefe-in-Chief Lalo Alcaraz.
There was a lot of buzz online about my story and I received a few encouraging tweets from actors and editors on the show. I patted myself on the back and thought “Maybe I can get a spot on AMC’s show about the show, The Talking Dead.”
The most surprising thing to happen after I wrote that story was that the executive producer of the show, Glen Mazzara, left the show! Or he was fired. Believe whatever version you want but he’s no longer producing the show and that made me feel…odd.
Why? Well, because not only did Mazzara read my critique of the show but he seemed pretty open to the criticism and told me to hang in there. Now, he didn’t directly come out and say: Hey, Santino, you’re on to something here, guy! Fuckin-A! I am going to put some Chicano/a characters on this damn show and people are gonna love it! ¡Orale!
But! He did say that he “gets it” and to “just wait”…so I waited.
To my dismay, Mazzara got canned and I started adding Reynolds Wrap to my already oversized tinfoil hat. The conspiracy theorist in me says that the powers that be said that Mazzara was breaking one of Hollywood’s oldest and strictest codes (NO talking to Chicano/as!) and gave him the boot.
It’s a running joke with friends and family that I got Mazzara fired for suggesting he put more Chicanos on the show but what can I say? The guy was mega-successful as the producer and everyone was shocked when he was let go. Would Hollywood go to such lengths to keep Latinos at large invisible and confined to stereotypical roles? I dunno but ask Lupe Ontiveros’ family what they think…
OK, so we’re three episodes in the second half of the third season and I waited like a good little Chicano so what has changed? Not much.
For starters, as promised by the former producer, The Governor’s henchman, Martinez, played by Jose Pablo Cantillo, has received a few more lines. I distinctly remember him saying, “Turn off that horn!” So that’s something. I guess.
The show keeps talking him up and I keep adding more tinfoil to my hat…
He is still a goon and maybe he’ll start getting Shakespearian soon but I’m not holding my breath. I was looking for him to step into more of a leadership role but so far that has not happened. The Governor says jump and Martinez says…who am I kidding? He doesn’t say anything! He just shoots things.
To add insult to injury, we got some bona fide Mexicans in episode ten! Like, real, Hollywood-certified Mexicanos! They were so authentic that none of them spoke a lick of English. And they were completely helpless until the white knights stepped in to save them. They even got called beaners! Hooray for progress…
I was pretty curious about these seemingly forced characters who no-speako-da-english, so I waited for the credits to see how these people were billed. If you go to IMDB, you’ll see them billed as a “Latin family with baby.” No doubt their Latin is top notch.
The credits list actor Al Vicente as “Mexican Man,” Karenlie Riddering as “Mexican Woman” and Andy Glen as “Mexican Boy.” The baby doesn’t get any credit which leads me to believe that he was illegal…you know, for authenticity.
My only guess to this genius casting is that Ben Affleck was not available to play “Mexican Man.” That would have been amazing. Award-worthy even.
Were this “Latin family with baby” to actually speak English..? Pfft. Who would believe that shit? Surely, when you have passed by all the Latin families with babies on your exploits around your fair city, you thought: Those damn Latins probably don’t speak any English. And then you shook your fist. Because if they did? How would anyone know they were Latin?? Exactly.
These things matter in Hollywood and these kinds of discussions must drive the poor producers and writers nuts.
Anyway, I would love to have these kinds of credits on my acting résumé so that I could get roles that showcased my talents.
“Mr. Rivera, what acting experience do you have?”
“Well, I was ‘Mexican Man’ on The Walking Dead…”
“You’ve got the part! Julia, get Mr. Rivera his gang member costume!”
I guess I will keep watching the show in the hopes that maybe they will throw us a few more bones…you know, cholos with hearts of gold and stranded, helpless “Mexican” people, sorry, Latin people. Maybe if we’re really lucky, they’ll cast a sexy, Mexican maid…and then forget to mention her in the credits.
One can dream.
- Santino J. Rivera is an Indie Publisher and Author at Broken Sword Publications - Tweet him @sjrivera.