John Leguizamo acknowledged he used to stay out of the sun as much as possible in a deliberate effort to make booking roles easier as a “light-skinned” Latino.
In a recent interview with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Leguizamo, who born in Colombia, said, “I stayed out of the sun so I could work. I definitely would not go in the sun for years. It was a conscious thing because I could work. And all the Latinos that made it so far, a lot of them were all light-skinned.”
“[Darker-skinned Latinos] don’t get a shot, you know,” the actor continued. “So, there’s a lot of things we got to deal with in Hollywood, and we got to fix, and we got to speak out and we got to speak up.”
According to a USC study, only 7 percent of the top-grossing films from 2019 featured a lead or co-lead Hispanic/Latino actor. In hopes of bringing that number up to at least 20 percent, Leguizamo plans on running for Governor of the Academy, where he can have a more direct hand in addressing colorism in Hollywood and reducing “negative portrayals” of people of color.
“You have to step up and make a change and change it from within,” he added. “I feel like if you’ve achieved a certain amount of success, it’s your duty to give back.”
But Leguizamo has hope for the near future: “Things are improving,” he said. “I think COVID made us really look at ourselves in America. Black Lives Matter was a huge awakening for America, a reboot for America to look at themselves and see what’s going on. I think everybody’s trying to do the right thing and hire many more people of color.” Check out the interview below.
Most recently, Leguizamo appeared in Disney’s Encanto, which is set in Colombia.