Fair enough. My father is a retired hospital janitor. Abandoned by his father when his mother died, he and his nine siblings were scattered across Havana, forced to find their own way. My dad ended up on the streets at age 4, scavenging food for himself and a younger brother and hustling money ingeniously: by solving complex math problems in the dirt for money from passersby. He’s survived at least seven heart attacks (the latest just this month) and triple bypass surgery, gave up his dream of becoming a doctor when we arrived in the States to take janitorial jobs so he could provide for the family in our new country.
Are stories like his worth telling? Absolutely. There are 52 million of us, after all, and at least as many stories. My beef is with the fact that though Latinas are also top lawyers, businesswomen, politicians, brilliant detectives—the stuff of rich, existing TV roles that go mostly to white actresses—Hollywood still, in 2013, rarely shows Latino characters outside black uniforms and white lace caps or tight cheetah-print skirts. Every new TV season remains a toss-up: Is this the year when we get a character as rich as Ugly Betty?
Hollywood needs to do better and that’s why I love the amount of debate that Devious Maids has sparked. It tells Hollywood executives that Latinas care about being represented in the fullness of their diversity and complexity. And that plain and simple, we want more.
Catch Devious Maids at 10 pm on Lifetime.