For Academy Award nominee Edward James Olmos, his history and legacy as an inspirational Latino actor is very much something he thinks about.
“For me, it’s very important,” the Mexican-American told Fox News Latino.
One of the stars of the new movie “2 Guns” starring Denzel Washington and Mark Wahlberg, Olmos has a storied career in film and television. He’s also starred in prominent Latino roles, including the storied character Jaime Escalante, an East Los Angeles math teacher, in “Stand and Deliver.”
But he blasted the movie industry – and the media – for marginalizing Latinos and not recognizing them enough.
Olmos took last year’s Oscar winner for Best Picture and its star, Ben Affleck, to task for not presenting the protagonist role as Latino. He said that decision was a disservice to Latinos.
Some Latinos were upset that Affleck, who directed the film, cast himself as Antonio “Tony” Mendez and did not portray him as a Latino character. Affleck argued that Mendez was fine with him playing the former CIA agent.
“They took ‘Argo,’ which won incredible praise, and they changed it into a guy that no one even knew Tony Mendez was a Latino,” Olmos said. “He’s a Mexican-American out of El Paso, Texas who did that and nobody even puts it together. “
Mendez’s father is Mexican.
“Ben decided to direct it and star in it. Which, there’s nothing wrong with it. What he didn’t do was bring in any cultural dynamic of the person he was playing as if he didn’t need it,” Olmos said. “I think he said his name once in the movie.”
He added: “That’s the mistake.”
But it's not only the movie industry that is white-washing Hollywood – the media is also to blame, he said.
“They report very little about us in English speaking mainstream media. They report on us [in the news] and the news is usually negative,” Olmos said. “Our heroes? Non-existent.”
Olmos thinks the industry will have to change their mindset or suffer the consequences.
“There’s 55 plus million of us in this country and we have no presence. We’re less than 2 percent of all the images you see on television and motion pictures or more that 17 percent of the population,” Olmos said. “It will come to haunt them.”
Follow Victor Garcia on Twitter @MrVicGarcia