Actors of color trying to make it in Hollywood face a paradox: To succeed, you need to stand out from the crowd while assimilating as much as possible. Be yourself while fitting in. And if you aspire to be like one of those leading men you grew up watching on TV, well, you better look the part. Step 1: Calm those curls. In the video above, Dominican-American actor Christopher Rivas reflects from the barber’s chair on the hundreds of crew cuts he’s gotten over the course of his career in hopes of appeasing casting directors who have a certain unwavering vision of how a star actor looks.
While there’s been a lot of talk about diversity in Hollywood, progress has been modest. A 2019 report looked at 100 top-grossing films from 2007 to 2018 and found that only 3 percent of the lead or colead roles went to Latinos (and a similar study found only 27 percent of the top 100 movies in 2018 had leads or coleads of color). Latinos have accounted for half the U.S. population growth over the past decade and make up 18 percent of the population. When will we get to see our nation’s diversity reflected on our screens?