Catherine Zeta-Jones has been cast as Griselda Blanco in “The Godmother,” an upcoming biopic on the life and death of the Colombian*-born drug queen, according to Deadline. News of Jones’ casting has kicked discussions about brownface into high gear, with many observers wondering aloud about why a Latina actress wasn’t chosen for the role instead.
“I’m sorry but what part of this casting makes any kind of sense? Come on Hollywood. AreThere NO LATIN actresses???” actress Yolanda Ross tweeted in reaction to the news.
Soraya Nadia McDonald sifts through the controversy over at the Washington Post, writing:
Casting isn’t just a problem with biopics. Plenty of people were angered when Rooney Mara was cast as Tiger Lily in the new Warner Bros. “Peter Pan” remake — more than 23,000 signed a petition telling studios to stop casting white actors in parts written for people of color. In 2013, Johnny Depp in redface as Tonto in “The Lone Ranger” elicited a similar reaction. And earlier this year, Comedy Girls Jenni Ruiza and Jesenia playfully asked “Saturday Night Live” showrunner Lorne Michaels to hire a Latina or two instead of subjecting viewers to castmembers in brownface.
What’s more, according to McDonald, is that there are plenty of Latina actresses in Hollywood who could have been better fits for the project:
Zeta-Jones is called upon to be Colombian when there are more visible Latina actresses working in Hollywood than ever — thanks in no small part to executive producers such as Eva Longoria and Salma Hayek. Hayek was responsible for bringing “Ugly Betty,” the show based on the Colombian telanovela “Yo soy Betty, la fea,” to network television. And Longoria has really taken charge with her production company UnbeliEVAble Entertainment.
*Post has been updated since publication to change the incorrect spelling, Columbian