Obama national co-chair defends show that reinforces racial stereotypes


Actress Eva Longoria defended the portrayal of Latinas in Devious Maids, a television show Longoria will executive produce along with Desperate Housewives creator Marc Cherry, in an interview with the Huffington Post. The show's premise–four maids who work in Beverly Hills–has been criticized by writers at Jezebel and Indiewire.

LEE HERNANDEZ: Can I ask you another TV question—which you don’t have to answer if you don’t want to. Regarding Devious Maids, which you’re producing, to me, someone who’s a culture writer who writes about Latinos on television, I see it as such a plus to have Ana Ortiz, Dania Ramirez, and Judy Reyes, and I forgot who the last one is—

EVA LONGORIA: Roselyn Sanchez.

HERNANDEZ: Roselyn Sanchez. Four great Latina actresses in a TV show—we’re so underrepresented, right? And then an A-list Latina producing it as well. There has been some, there have been some bloggers who have said, "Oh, well, this is just reinforcing the maid stereotype." I don’t know if you’d like to speak on that a little bit.

LONGORIA: Yeah, absolutely. I am producing Devious Maids with Marc Cherry, which I’m very excited to be doing. I think most of the Latino community is proud that there’s a show employing four, dynamic Latinas—Dania Ramirez, Roselyn Sanchez, Ana Ortiz, Judy Reyes—and they’re the leads of the show. They’re not the guest star, they’re not the co-star, they’re not, you know, sub-characters. They are the lead characters of the show, and they are playing maids, which is a realistic reflection of our society today in America. When we get any sort of backlash for, "Oh, they’re playing the stereotypical maids," my immediate response is, so you’re telling me that those stories aren’t worth telling? That those people are lesser than? That their stories aren’t worth exploring, that they have no complexity in their life because they’re a maid? And that’s what angers me, especially within the Latino community with people who have had their lives touched by nannies, by housekeepers, gardeners, valets—whatever occupations we have occupied as Latinos, it’s a reality, so why not tell their story and their point of view? I commend and applaud Marc Cherry for doing that. He’s not Latino—he has no obligation to do it. He is one of the greatest showrunners of the past decade–creating Desperate Housewives, one of the most influential shows on television—and he decided he wanted to tap into this society and this culture? So I applaud it.

HERNANDEZ: Yeah, they’re some of the most hard-working people in the entire country—why not do a show about them? You portrayed a rich Latina for years, so somebody like you coming in and doing that is fantastic.

LONGORIA: I know, and I play Gabrielle Salis, who is a very affluent Latina—and we got backlashed on that before with the Latino community, saying, "That’s not accurately reflected." So, it’s sometimes, you can’t win. People need to really look at the paradigm of television, and say this is a very powerful medium for Latinos to have a voice. Let’s support it, so they will make more of these.

Longoria is a major fundraiser for President Obama. She has pledged to bundle between $200,000 and $500,000 for the Obama campaign, serves as one of 35 national campaign co-chairs, and has appeared at a number of high-profile fundraisers for the campaign.

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