Dascha Polanco Felt Pressured to Hide Afro-Latino Features to Land Roles

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Dascha Polanco is a confident Afro-Latina, but that wasn’t always the case.

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During an interview with Vivala, the Orange is the New Black star opened up about once feeling pressurred to hide her features in hopes to land more acting gigs. “We have to be 'Fake Latinas,'" Polanco said. "And here’s the thing about ‘Fake Latinas' — when you look at Latinas who are succeeding in Hollywood, they’re super thin and you really can’t tell if she’s Latina or not."

Before the Dominicana landed her breakthrough role in the Netflix series, the actress admits she had a lot of insercurities for not fitting the Latina representations in Hollywood, that is often rooted in stereotypes. "I just thought, ‘Oh my God, if only I had lighter eyes. If only I had lighter hair. If only I was skinny. Oh my God, if I was a size 0, I know I would get more work. I could play an Italian right now! This is why you’re not getting a job," she explained

Polanco has since come a long way from her days battling those insecurities. However, the actress, who no longer feels like she has to choose between being Black and Latina, believes Afro-Latinos remains largely invisible in Hollywood. “For [my features] to not be accepted as something that can be represented in a film or in such a way that it’s ‘acceptable,’ it’s offensive," the OITNB star said. "I love myself. I love myself enough to know that I’m as important as anyone else out there."

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Back in 2016, the actress schooled Charlamagne from The Breakfast Club when he questioned Polanco for descibing herself as a Afro-Latina. “I consider myself to be a Black woman. And I think a lot of Dominicans should, because from what I see, that’s what we are,” she told the radio host.