John Leguizamo was a bright-eyed college graduate when he first realized how hard it is for a Latino actor to make it in the entertainment industry.
The 53-year-old actor described the moment during a visit to The New York Times, where he spoke to film writer Monica Castillo about his one-man Broadway show, “Latin History For Morons.”
During the conversation on Tuesday, Leguizamo noted how Latino stars like Jennifer Lopez have to be extra resourceful and multi-talented in order to succeed.
“It really became apparent to me as a young actor, after I graduated from NYU, and all of my white friends were going to five auditions every day and I was going to one, once every two months,” Leguizamo said. “And I was like, I went to the same college, I studied with the same teachers, I got the same grades, why don’t I have the same opportunities? And once that became incredibly obvious to me, I was like, wow, I gotta find some other path.”
Leguizamo said after realizing that he decided to forge his own path by working in performance art spaces and writing one-shows like “Mambo Mouth” and “Ghetto Klown.”
In 2015, the actor told The Hollywood Reporter that he began working on his autobiographical shows as an “antidote” to Hollywood’s tendency to typecast Latinos.
“It was an antidote to the system, to the Hollywouldn’t-ness of it all,” he said. “You know? And it was that, because I didn’t want to be a drug dealer or a murderer for the rest of my life. That’s not me, that’s not my people.”
While talking to Castillo this week, Leguizamo also said he wrote about his life in the hope that others would see themselves represented in his stories.
“I wanted to put that all there and give someone who grew up like me some kind of strength and courage,” he said.