And then I saw that Melissa Fumero had been cast as Amy Santiago on Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and I felt my guts roll up into my throat and try to escape out of my mouth. Omgomgomgomg that’s it then. There’s no way in hell a major network is gonna cast two Latina actresses in such a tight ensemble show I AM SCREWED.

And then next day my agents called and told me I’d booked it.

I couldn’t believe it. I had been saying to my boyfriend the night before how there was JUST NO WAY. Normally, The Latina is a singular element of the ensemble she is working in. She’s there to provide contrast, or sexuality, or humor. Or she’s there to clean the floors and/or steal your man. There are some serious stereotypes very much alive in film and TV today, and The Latina is one of them.

Here’s the thing though. The world is changing. Slowly but surely, television is changing. The character stereotypes are changing, or being turned inside out by some fantastic writers and actors (I’m looking at you, Orange is the New Black, Scandal, and The Mindy Project). People of color are on TV playing roles that are fleshed out, complex, human. And yes, some of those characters are maids. Some are sexy heartbreakers there to steal your man. Some own BBQ joints, while some are Chiefs of Staff. Some are prisoners, and some are cops. All are real people with hopes, dreams, ambitions, fears, and all the other vast human emotions and desires…

…This is important. Because young women are watching TV, and they are getting messages about who they are in the world, who the world will allow them to be. And in big important steps, television is showing a reflection back to those young women that YOU CAN BE WHATEVER THE HELL YOU DAMN WELL PLEASE, and that two Latinas on one show is NORMAL. I think that’s a win for everybody.

4

The first day of rehearsal, I was intimidated, because I’m a big SNL fan. It was like, Holy crap, I’m working with Andy Samberg. He turned out to be really nice, so then I thought, Oh, this is awesome. Now he’s my friend. He’s a nonstop idea machine; Andy’s brain is constantly going. I’d expected this zany, crazy, energetic type of guy, but he’s actually very laid-back and sweet.

There’s a certain sweetness and squareness to the way she plays comedy, and I mean that in the best possible way. There’s something very genuine about Melissa.

andy samberg and melissa fumero | good housekeeping magazine (january 2014)

“When you label somebody and put them in a box, then you put the lid on the box and you just never look inside again. I think it’s much more interesting for human beings to look at each other’s stories and see each other. Really see each other, and then see themselves through other people’s stories. That’s where you start to break down stereotypes; seeing other people’s realities, like I said, their dreams, their hopes, their fears, all that stuff. Then you connect with somebody else, even if they’re from somewhere completely different than you and have a completely different life than you. You still connect with them because at the end of the day, we’re all human beings.”