Lifetime’s “Devious Maids” has yet to premiere but its stars are already working to wipe away criticism of a show accused of stereotyping Latinas.
On Wednesday, Dominican-born actress Dania Ramirez joined host Jacob Soboroff on HuffPost Live to talk about the recent controversy and how her own immigrant experience allows her to relate to her Latina character, Rosie Falta.
Created by Marc Cherry (“Desperate Housewives”), “Devious Maids” centers around a group of Latina maids working for the rich and famous in Beverly Hills. In the series, Ramirez plays a Mexican immigrant who had to leave her child behind to work in the United States after her husband’s passing.
“That immigrant story is something I really related to,” Ramirez told HuffPost Live. “My parents moved to the States when I was six months old and they worked really, really hard for us, to get us visas. They came here illegally. My father was a chemist my mother was nurse and they had to leave their lives behind and sacrifice all that so that we could get to come here. I came and reunited with them when I was ten years old. So I kind of get to explore that story from my mother’s perspective.”
(Watch The Full HuffPost Live Segment Above)
Ramirez also said she believes having a Latina power cast is what makes the show “groundbreaking” within the industry.
“I really believe in the show. I think that Marc Cherry has hired an incredibly talented cast,” Ramirez added, referring to her co-stars Ana Ortiz, Roselyn Sánchez, Edy Ganem, and Judy Reyes. “I have had the opportunity to work with five other Latin women that usually we’re sort of competing against each for one role.”
In May, journalist Tanisha L. Ramirez praised the novelty of having an all-Latina cast but wrote, after watching the series’ teaser, that the show hypersexualized its leading ladies and had “missed [the] opportunity to diversify the roles played by Latinas” when it decided to make them all maids.
Actress Eva Longoria, who is also an Executive Producer, quickly responded to the criticism in a blog titled “There’s No Such Thing As A Wasted Opportunity.”
“The only way to break a stereotype is to not ignore it,” Longoria wrote in the blog. “The stereotype we are grappling with here is that as Latinas, all we are is maids. And yet, this is a show that deconstructs the stereotype by showing us that maids are so much more.”
While on HuffPost Live, actress Dania Ramirez echoed Longoria's sentiment saying critics should watch the show before passing judgment on it.
“To be completely honest with you, these women are not defined by their jobs or how much money they make, we are telling real stories, compelling stories,” Ramirez told Soboroff. “Yes, we happen to be maids. That’s our job. The show is about who we are as people. It’s about getting to know our culture, getting to know us as passionate, loving women. And for a lot of us it’s that struggle and hard work that he have and that we spend here in America to try to achieve our dreams.”
“Devious Maids” will premiere Sunday, June 23 at 10 pm.
Check out the HuffPost segment with Dania Ramirez above and let us know what you think of the controversy in the comments below.