When we caught up with actor-director Emilio Estevez last week to discuss his new film The Way, we asked the Spanish actor if he thinks things have gotten better for Latinos in Hollywood over the last 20 or 30 years. The 49-year-old actor—whose father Martin had to change his name from Estevez to Sheen just to get work in Hollywood in the 1960s—said he thinks things have definitely gotten better. “I think once big business, whether it’s a studio or other corporations, understand that the Latino demographic is very powerful—and the fastest growing demographic in the country—I think they have to answer to that,” said Estevez.
“This is a demographic and a population that will not stay silent," adds Estevez. "They vote with their wallets. And so I think Hollywood has said, ‘hang on, we better support Latino actors and we better create Latino content to maximize tapping into that audience.'”
Estevez, who has played non-Latino characters in movies like The Breakfast Club (1985), St. Elmo’s Fire (1985), and The Mighty Ducks (1992), said it's important for Latinos to be able to play a wide range of roles in Hollywood—not just Latino characters. “Because then it’s like saying, ‘oh, we've got this guy named Emilio Estevez and he’s got to look Latino,'" says Estevez with a chuckle. “It’s like, ‘wait a minute—we come in all shapes, sizes and colors!’ You know?"