Puerto Rican actress and singer Rita Moreno cemented her entertainment icon status at a time when Hollywood barely opened its doors to Latinx people. The lone Latinx artist to win an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony (EGOT) advocated for her community’s political and creative power throughout her nearly seven-decade career. The Ellis Island Honors Society recognized her advocacy by awarding her a Medal of Honor, which recognizes people "whose accomplishments in their field and inspired service to our nation are cause for celebration."
Ahead of the ceremony, Moreno talked to NPR yesterday (May 13). Here are a few of her reflections on her path, representing Latinx communities and industry equity:
On Latinx political agency today:
rnt"We are now really raising our voices like we never have before. And I think that is the big difference [from the past, when] we’re dealing with someone difficult and dangerous and bizarre as this president. We are getting just as loud as he is. And we are trying to show America that we are not the kind of people that he keeps portraying. And I think that’s going to help a great deal."
On how #MeToo pushed Hollywood equity arguments further than during the 1960s:
rnt"I don’t think everybody was as serious about it then as they are now. I think we have found a voice. I think the #MeToo movement has done something quite extraordinary in all kinds of directions, not just about men and sexuality, but about just simply being heard and being listened to. I think we were voices in the wind, and the wind was blowing the wrong way. And we weren’t experienced yet at how quite to do this. I think we are getting the experience now."
On what changed for Latinx performers:
rnt"I think what’s changed for Latino performers is Latino performers. I think we have spoken out. And the door is much more open now. I don’t think it’s open enough, but it’s certainly more open."
On what she wants to tell her people:
rnt"What I say to my gente is to hang on and to remember who they are. Be proud of who they are and keep talking, keep complaining and just don’t give up."
Listen to the full interview from NPR: