“I noted it right off the bat,” fellow cast member America Ferrera said, in marked contrast. “When you’re a person of color you notice these things.”
Having read the script after several roles already had been cast, “I was so taken by how this script hadn’t been written with the characters’ ethnicity pre-determined,” Ferrera said. “They cast the best people for the roles.”
“It’s the first role I’ve ever been offered in my career that wasn’t written Latino,” she said.
Asked if that’s progress, Ferrera responded, “I think so, yes.” But, she acknowledged she also had thought, when her series Ugly Betty was on the air, it was a “watershed moment.” “But we went off the air, and it was years before we saw another,” she noted.
When it comes to finding opportunity on TV for non-white actors, “progress gets made in individual steps, and we should celebrate,” she said. “We should praise those moments, but it’s important to also acknowledge that we have successes that don’t necessarily end up in watershed moments.”
“I do applaud NBC,” she said, for having three shows on the air with Latina leads, calling it “history” making.
EP Justin Spitzer said the show has the ability to “touch lightly” on issues of race “without feeling like every episode needs to be social commentary.” For instance, there is an episode in which employees engage in a sales contest, but Feldman’s character – a college grad who never has held a job before – “doesn’t believe in selling people things they don’t need,” in marked contrast to other employees. “In that respect, it does touch on different backgrounds..It’s part of the DNA for the show.”
Ferrera got asked about her talked-about Golden Globe moment with Eva Longoria – an idea Ferrera said she and Spitzer came up with, though Spitzer gave her “95%” of the credit.
At the awards ceremony, presenter Longoria introduced herself as “not Eva Mendes.”
Her co-presenter Ferrera said she was “not Gina Rodriguez.”
“Neither one of us are Rosario Dawson,” added Longoria.
“Well said, Salma,” said Ferrera, referencing Salma Hayek.
“Thank you, Charo,” concluded Longoria.