Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Army Wives: Por Fin, Latinos Cast!

Alyssa Diaz
After six seasons, Lifetime’s Army Wives finally includes a Latina wife (Alyssa Diaz) and her husband (Joseph Julian Soria), also a Latino. Finally, the show is heading toward a more balanced image representation.  Bravo, I’m not complaining, but dang, why didn’t this happen back in 2007 when the show premiered?

I’m reminded of how veteran comedian/actor Danny Mora would end his shows back in the day when he was still on the road, it went something like this:

Do you realize that President Bill Clinton was the first president ever to hire Mexicans/Latinos in the White House Kitchen… how come it took so long? What were they afraid of?

That we were going to hijack the presidential limo and go low riding?
Put Tequila in the White House Ballroom punch ball?
String a burro PiƱata in the middle of the Oval Office?
Or worse spray paint our names on a wall?”

Let me tell you something… ladies and gentlemen there is a wall in Washington DC with more of our share of names—not sprayed painted—but etched in granite in the order in which they fell serving our country, and it’s called the Vietnam Memorial. Next time you’re in nation’s capitol, check it out.

Joseph Julian Soria
Alyssa Diaz (Shark Night3D, Red Dawn/MGM 11/2012 release) and Joseph Julian Soria (CSI: Miami, Lincoln Heights, The Shield) portray married couple Hector and Gloria Cruz and it is obvious they’re Latino so the fake accent (especially on Gloria’s part) is just plain annoying.

Hollywood has consistently made errors of omission throughout the years. I had a friend tell me he had a hard time justifying WW11 to his grandkids because after watching Saving Private Ryan a few years ago, there isn’t one Latino visible and when the cameras panned the military cemetery, not one Latino surname was visible.  Steven Spielberg didn’t get his facts right here. From one street alone, over 105 Mexican Americans served in WW11… Google “Hero Street USA.” According to the National World War 11 Museum between 250,000 and 500,000 Hispanic Americans served in the U.S. Armed Forces!  I won’t even get into Vietnam and the Afghan/Iraq war. Latinos have been part of the U.S. military since the formation of this union!

And today the U.S. Latino population tops 50 million, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, and am thrilled that finally, Army Wives has a Latino couple and hopefully, their roles will grow touching upon the trials and tribulations of the stress, drama and trauma of being in the military and how it strains and/or strengthens relationships.

Listen, I’m pleased as punch that Army Wives has included in its casting a pair of super talented Latinos… and trust me I’m not complaining, I’m celebrating this fact, but TV writers and movie makers, if you’re interested, there is a wealth of books in the library perhaps you’ve missed these titles to capture the reality. Like it or not, there is a growing generational shift in which Latinos continue to gain political clout and, by 2050, could make up a third of the U.S. population.

Remember, a full 12.6 percent of the Army is comprised of Latinos, and it's high time we are acknowledged on television for our contributions to American society.

Army Wives, airs Sundays at 10PM (EST/PST) on Lifetime TV
Stars: Alyssa Diaz, Joseph Julian Soria, Catherine Bell, Kim Delaney, Sally Pressman, Wendy Davis, Drew Fuller, Terry Serpico, Brian McNamara, and Sterling K. Brown.

Latinowood / Elia Epsarza
Army Wives: Por Fin, Latinos Cast! July 11, 2012 © All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Latino-American as Apple Pie and Mayberry

Latinowood is pleased to have guest contributor, Adrian Tafoya. He is a Writer, Producer, and Actor as well as a Stage Technician. He has held five different Show business Union cards over his 28-year career. Adrian Tafoya has staged over 500 live theatre productions in one aspect or another as a Stage Manager, Technician, Actor or Producer.

By Adrian Tafoya

North Carolina, USA - There will be many words written and exchanged about the passing of the Screen legend Andy Griffith today. From my childhood as a Latino, a Brown-faced American, I enjoyed watching him and Opie drawl with that goofy Barney Fife and Aunt Bea on The Andy Griffith Show. There was not really anything to immediately identify with them as these Southern small-town characters while I watched them on my Dad's  black-and-white TV from sunny San Bernardino, CA. But I did identify with the characters on some level.

I am that American. I knew what it was to be an American and to be proud of it. I was proud to be able to see the fictional town of Mayberry as an idyllic American township that every boy wants to grow up in,  find a girl and raise a family. Andy Griffith was the keeper of that dream. This wavy-haired, drawling, and country charm was one of those characteristics that I was imbued with by just watching Mr. Griffith.

I am a Latino and to me that has always meant I was an American. I was born and raised in Southern California. I am 3rd generation Californian. My daughter is many generations removed from Irish immigrants of the Townsend clan. Here is an opportunity for all of us to reflect upon the passing of Andy Griffith and what an impact he has had upon so many of our lives. Black, Brown, Irish... everyone.  

As an actor, I once had the opportunity to work with Andy Griffith on an episode of Matlock.  This brought me full-circle to be in the presence of one of the great legends of Hollywood. I graduated college and came to the doorstep of my dreams with the Sheriff-- the dream that I had first seen as a boy on my Dad’s TV-- I became Opie, in a beautiful shade of Brown. That is America to me.  

Adrian Tafoya in L.A. jersey with 2 of his childhood pals

If Congress would recognize this and understand that we [Latinos and all people in America] are all in this together.  This is the reality of our current American landscape. This is why it is so confusing to see all the hoopla about the Dream Act. Those of us who have lived in America for a certain number of years are all Andy's children. We all have that American Dream... and we should be colorblind.

Adrian Tafoya