John Leguizamo's Agents Told Him "Not To Get Too Dark"

Getty Images

John Leguizamo happens to be one of the most respected and talented actors in Hollywood, but when he first started, agents encouraged him to forsake his Latino roots to get more roles. 

In fact, he was urged to take one of two professional names: John Leighton or John Lee. In an interview with Fusion's Jorge Ramos, Leguizamo revealed the obstacles he faced as a young Latino in the business.

"When I started out acting, I was about age 18, 19. We weren't the flavor at the time, us Latin people," Leguizamo told Ramos. "My agents and casting people would tell me to change my  name to Jon Lee, John Leighton, something with an L. And they told me not to go out in the sun, and tell people I was Italian. Not to get too dark, so I could tell people I was half-French, half-Irish."

At the time, Leguizamo, who was born in Colombia and raised in New York City, brushed off the suggestion. Ramos then pointed out that Latinos' popularity is on the rise...but Leguizamo was quick to remind him that there's work to be done.

"Now we're the flavor again. This is the fifth time," he joked. "This time, we're 20 percent of the population, over a trillion dollars of buying power, but only 3.8 percent of the media."

Watch the revealing interview below. Are you shocked by his stories? 

Share this 
About this author

Cristina Arreola, Associate Editor

Cristina Mari Arreola is the Associate Editor. Originally from El Paso, Texas, she earned her degree at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University before moving to New York City. In her downtime, you can usually find her scouring the city for the most authentic Mexican food (still looking), scaring herself silly watching horror movies, or frantically reading a novel from her (extremely lengthy) reading list. See what she's reading now on Goodreads, and follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

Like this post? Contribute to the discussion!