LATINO VOICES
10/17/2014 03:06 pm ET Updated Oct 17, 2014

Rosie Perez Says Latin Hollywood Told Her Not To ‘Rock The Boat'

Rosie Perez has always been a vocal advocate for Latino representation in the entertainment industry -- something she says Latin Hollywood wasn’t keen on in the beginning.

On Monday, the Oscar-nominated actress appeared on “Larry King Now” and spoke about the struggle for Latinos in the entertainment industry and her reservations on becoming a co-host on “The View.”

When King asked about when Perez realized Latinos in Hollywood were being “neglected,” the actress said it was a soon as she began her film career in the late 1980s.

“I get into this business and I’m like ‘Oh my god, you guys are totally racist, this is so absurd, this is so stupid.’ And I just couldn’t believe it,” Perez said.

The New York-born star said that because she never intended to become an actress she didn’t feel the pressure of protecting her career when speaking up.

“I started calling people on their stuff. I’d say ‘listen, things have to change. How come I keep getting 50 million offers to play the crack ho?’” the Puerto Rican actress told King. “And I challenged them on it, and initially, oh my god, the negative response was horrific. And it wasn't just from white Hollywood. It was also from Latin Hollywood. They were telling me to stop trying to rock the boat. And I said, 'The boat needs to be rocked.' "

“I understand you guys have open wounds from how you were treated but there are wonderful people, who have made strides on our behalf,” Perez continued. “We have to reap the benefits, we can’t just sit there and remain afraid.”

When asked if diversity in Hollywood had improved over the years, the star said, “They’re getting better. But not enough, not enough by far.”

The star also spoke about the autobiography she released February of this year, saying she set out to write a book about “the anatomy of child abuse,” and her thoughts on domestic abuses in the NFL.

In September, Perez became the first Latina co-host on ABC’s daytime chat show “The View.” But the actress said she wasn’t so sure about signing onto the show at first but became interested when she found out Bill Wolff of the Rachel Maddow Show was going to be the new executive producer.

“I didn't want to be on a show where people were just screaming at each other disrespectfully,” Perez said. “I’m too old for that. I don’t want to go to work and face that every single day. And I remember Bill saying ‘I want to build a team of women who respect each other, you guys are going to argue, you’re going to disagree -- maybe, maybe not -- but respect has to be in the room.’ And that was the No. 1 thing.”

Check out the full interview above and on Hulu or Ora.tv.

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