Gina Torres Speaks On Feeling Trapped ‘In A Box’ As A Latina Woman In African-American Roles

Gina Torres

Gina Torres Speaks On Feeling Trapped ‘In A Box’ As A Latina Woman In African-American Roles

Gina Torres is opening up about her experience as a Latina woman in African American roles.

The actress, who made her on-screen debut in 1992 in an episode of Unnatural Pursuits, has been nominated for and won several awards for her work on-screen — but she wasn’t always comfortable with the work she was putting out.

Gina Torres said,

“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.” 

Gina Torres

She added,

“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. 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, it was something that I had to learn.”

While she is still hoping for more diversity in Hollywood, Gina Torres went on to credit the “Jedi mind trick” — which is a seemingly magical mental feat — with helping her to push through Black portrayals without feeling sad or defeated.

She said,

“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.”

It’s not the first time Torres has talked about how challenging it has been for her to distinguish herself as an Afro-Latina actress in an industry rife with prejudice. She previously opened up to CNN about her troubles breaking into Hollywood, recalling the times when she was told she was “too exotic” and that certain portrayals could ultimately cause some confusion with audiences.

She noted that Afro-Latino actresses such as herself who “don’t appear Latino” enough in Hollywood are typically only cast in African-American roles.

Torres said,

“I need to speak my language (Spanish) whenever possible. I need to let the audience know that this is also a face of Latinidad.”

In an effort to increase Latinx representation on television, she added,

“Hire us. It’s not that hard. We need to be in front of the camera, behind the camera, we need to be writing the words, we need to be directing these stories. There’s so much room in the industry. If we all get together and create a system by which we can nurture each other’s talents, bring people under the umbrella and bring them into the fold. Then the pool widens so that you have more to choose from and more to pick from.”


Torres‘ work includes Suits, Hannibal, Riverdale, Gossip Girl, and 9-1-1: Lone Star.

What are your thoughts on what Gina Torres shared? Let us know in the comments! 

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Authored by: S. G.