Gina Torres, the Black Cuban actress who has built a career portraying Black non-Latina characters, proverbially bit the hands of the people from the culture who fed her in an interview that aired on MSNBC recently.
In a roundtable discussion with prominent Hispanic women, including Janel M. Martinez, that was originally filmed in August, Torres opened up to the panel– of mostly white and mestiza Latinas– about feeling like she was “trapped in a box” while portraying only Black American characters throughout her career in Hollywood.
The racially-Black actress told the MSNBC forum, “I feel like I was living in three worlds. There was my world that I grew up in, also Spanish-speaking. Home, Cuban parents, and then you go out into the world, and I’m speaking English, and I’m in the Bronx. And then, going into this industry as an actress, then nobody recognizes you as either one.”
For the record, culture, race and ethnicity are not interchangeable. Torres would be racially Black in Cuba. The country’s Black folks have fought incessantly to be seen, although politics and anti-Blackness erased them for a “un pueblo” philosophy.
“There was no place for me as a Latina, and then as a Black woman—I didn’t identify as a Black woman because, for me, it was cultural. Because, of course, I present Black, I am a Black woman,” Torres continued. “I am also Cuban. When you’re here in the United States, and they ask you to be in a box, and you don’t fit into the box– culturally, it was different. It was not one that I identified with. But to work, to survive was something that I had to learn. To then learn to be whatever ‘Black’ was, and then feel like I was alienating that other part of myself, that Latina self, it just kind of became a Jedi mind trick to keep myself from just being sad all the time about not being able to fully experience and express the entirety of myself.”
While Blackness isn’t a monolith, Torres’ negrura is undeniable, so implementing a “Jedi mind trick” to be something that she’s always been is rich. The 53-year-old Bronx native was married to veteran Black American actor Laurence Fishburne for 15 years. They share a daughter, Delilah, and divorced in 2017. Did she have those feelings then?
Also, the conversation about survival is abhorrent because, in essence, the “Suits” actress admitted to using the identity of a culture to eat. The shitting on Black Americans wasn’t necessary when she could have easily not taken roles that didn’t align with her “Latina self” and took her gripe to the white and mestizo Latin community– who’s isolated and ignored her since the inception of her career. With almost 60 acting credits to Torres’ name, she’s eaten well off the backs of U.S. Blacks– while being slapped in the face by the folks she pandered to.
Throughout her career, Black folks in the United States embraced Torres while her gente embarrassingly questioned her Latinidad.
In 2012, the “I Love My Wife” star was insulted on the red carpet during the ALMA Awards, where she was nominated for “Favorite TV Actress – Supporting Role” in “Suits.”
The humiliating moment went viral after a white Latina reporter from Telemundo stopped Torres on the red carpet to chat it up in broken English with the star about her nomination. The Cuban actress answered her in English, but the Q&A session worsened after the dim-witted interviewer asked if she spoke “un poquito español?”
Torres responded with a confused look and said that she wondered why the reporter spoke to her in English when it was a Spanish-language network. She then went on to speak fluent Spanish.
“But, this is Telemundo. Why are they speaking to me in English?”
Torres’s dream of being seen by the Latins, seemingly, came to fruition in 2019. She made television history by becoming the first Black Latina to create, star and produce a network series– USA’s “Pearson.” It was a spin-off of “Suits” and lasted for only one season. Ironically, the show was also the network’s lowest-rated series of the season.
The 53-year-old Cubana hasn’t addressed her statement, but Black Twitter, specifically Black Americans, had plenty to say about the problematic vitriol.
But @ginatorres didn’t mind taking those roles to “survive”, but now wants to complain about no Latin representation?!
The weakness of so many celebrities!!
We’ re seeing MANY tethers using Black America for their comeuppance to only slap us in the face!https://t.co/zBTStjCkWr
— Duane Moody (@DuaneMoody9) September 8, 2022
#GinaTorres should free herself by refusing roles that should go to Black actresses since she feels trapped.Directors help her by not hiring her.Actress Gina Torres Explains Why She Felt Trapped Being A Latina Woman In African American Roles(Video) | BET https://t.co/q8LLxuyI88
— Renee (@ReneeRevelation) September 11, 2022
Way to sh*t on your Black audience. Hopefully, you won’t have to bare any further future pains of cosplaying us anymore, and you take the roles Jlo, Selena Gomez, and other Latina get…oops the Latin community won’t accept you, so you ran to BET to complain. Pathetic.😐 pic.twitter.com/hGHiHhITgE
— Red Joker 🇺🇸 (@R3dJ0k3r) September 10, 2022
Gina Torres cloaked herself in Black American roles, and is now complaining for taking those said roles, even as a Latina, instead of just passing up those roles to actual Black American women? When money & exposure was the motive, what is the real concern here? pic.twitter.com/ApshYxvHG1
— T-Boz’s Acting In Belly (@AngieSmiley16) September 7, 2022
Ummmm, no one forced Gina Torres to take the roles she was offered. She should be grateful instead of bitter. There’s African American actresses that would’ve loved those roles.
— Nycole (@Nyki_says) September 6, 2022
Gina Torres wanna be treated like the white Latinx women and that has nothing to do with us. Leave black Americans out of your mess.
— Critical Grace Theory (@Peaceful_Rule) September 5, 2022
Torres has not elaborated on her statement. Sis2Sis reached to the actress for comment, but messages went unanswered.