When the 62nd Annual Primetime Emmy nominations were announced on July 8th, we were disappointed that just two Latinas, Sofia Vergara (Modern Family) and Lea Michelle (Glee), made the list of more than 61 nominees. With the awards show right around the corner (August 29th), we asked Puerto Rican actor, Jimmy Smits, 55—who has been nominated for an Emmy 12 times and won once for L.A. Law in 1990—what he thinks about the lack of Latin Emmy love.
“The fact that Sofia was one of two Latinas nominated…I understand. There could have been many more nominations—Benjamin Bratt did a great job on The Cleaner. But there’s a bigger landscape in terms of television right now and we’re not just three or four networks anymore—it’s a 200 hundred channel universe," said Smits. "What we need to focus on is not that we’re not nominated, but that we have many more Latinos that are in prominent positions on shows all across the dial than ever before. I’m happy that just about on every other show there’s a Latino somewhere present and we’re not all the cooks anymore.”
Smits says Latinos have more stars today than ever before. “Growing up, there were always two or three names—whether it was Desi Arnaz or Fernando Lamas or Ricardo Montalban. But we’re at a point now where you can’t just say one or two names. There are multiple names.”
Smits says the Emmy love for Sofia isn’t surprising given the way the Latino presence is becoming stronger in the U.S. “We’re at a point right now in our development in this country—setting the immigration issue aside—that you can’t ignore the sheer population of us in metropolitan areas all across the country, of how significant Latino-ness is in the United States,” said Smits. “You see it in every fork of business and you see it in the entertainment business. I think it’s a matter of time before you’ll see that it will become commonplace to see more roles [for Latinos].” Smits knows a thing or two about bringing powerful Latino role models to television. His new show Outlaw, about a former Supreme Court justice who starts his own law firm, premieres this fall.
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