Exclusive: Lisa Vidal Talks ‘Being Mary Jane’ & Diversity on TV

BET

Beyond sex, the show highlights women in executive roles and also delves into hot button issues like gay rights. As you filmed the season, did any topic surprise you?

No, because our writer/producer, Mara Brock Akil, she’s so amazing at how she keeps it real. She wants those real conversations in there. Nobody wants to talk about it like on television, no one wants to really show someone being opposed, or someone being for. And Mara goes there. And that’s what I love about the writing on show is that she wants to confront all these issues. And we play characters, and these characters represent specific ideas and morals and lifestyles, and I think that’s why the show is a hit because everybody can relate to these characters. They’re flawed, they make stupid mistakes, the say stupid things, and sometimes they don’t express themselves politically correctly. I think that’s very representative of the world we live in and so she’s not afraid to put it up there on the screen.

 

Where do you think Being Mary Jane falls within the current TV landscape of multicultural shows (Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Devious Maids, etc.)?

I think Being Mary Jane always makes a statement and I feel really happy and lucky to be a part of this show because it does address those issues that not every show is talking about and it’s not afraid to and I really love that about our show. And actually, like you said, it’s not a black show, it’s a multicultural show, and that’s why I actually expect my Latino audience to watch, I expect my Latino media to pay attention to it, to pay attention to me, on the show representing, representing in so many ways this flawed character yet she’s a proud Latina. She’s a strong ambitious intelligent woman, but she just happens to be Latina. She could be any color and I think that’s important, when Latinos can be any color on a show and it’s non-descript in the sense of “this is a person in the functioning world.” Then we’ve made it.

What do you think is the future of Latinos on TV?

I think the future of television for Latinos is like we’re finally waking up, I feel like we’ve been asleep for a long ass time. And I have a lot of respect for the African American community, how they fight for each other. They go out there they watch their movies they watch their shows. They support. They make it a point to say something if they don’t see a person of color on something and they’re not being represented. They have producers and writers out there writing for other African American actors, making sure they put them on shows. Latinos have to do the same thing. We have to support one another; we have to make it a point to seek each other out and to highlight each other. When we see somebody in something, everybody should be on that. Everybody should be, “oh let’s get so and so on this show,” “let’s get them here, let’s talk about them, let’s get them out there.” That’s what has to happen. Latinos that are in the industry writing and producing, they can’t be afraid to go out there and say, “I want my lead to be Latino. And I want to talk about this, I wanna write about that.” And Latinos as a whole, as a people in America, need to go out and support. We need to watch the shows, we need to go see the movies, and we need to buy the papers and the magazines.

Watch Being Mary Jane on BET Tuesdays at 10P/9C.

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About this author

Jesus Trivino,

Born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, Jesús Triviño Alarcón began his professional journalism career at Vibe. At 25, he became editor-in-chief of Fuego, the first national English language Latino men’s magazine, and served as senior editor for Scratch, a magazine dedicated to hip-hop producers and DJs. Since then he has guided the editorial direction for MyNuvoTV.com, the online component of the Latino lifestyle cable network, and BET.com's music shows and specials including 106 & Park. Additionally, he has written and reported for the NY Daily News, SLAM, The Source, XXL, Inked, SOHH.com, People.com, Essence.com, and many more. In his 13-year career he’s interviewed countless celebrities including Carmelo Anthony, Demi Lovato, Marc Anthony, Rosario Dawson, Willie Colón, Jay-Z, Nas, Jessica Alba, John Leguizamo, 50 Cent, Kanye West, among others. Today, as Latina’s Entertainment Editor he’s constantly thinking WWJD—What Would Juanes Do? Follow me on Instagram @JesusTalks and Twitter @JTrivinoAlarcon.

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