Anthony Mendez has one of the best known voices in primetime television. His excellent work as the narrator for The CW’s hit “Jane the Virgin” has even garnered him an Emmy nomination – and yet, he almost passed on the role.
The Dominican-American voice actor told Fox News Latino that he was initially put off by the “Latin Lover” title the show called for because he thought it would be completely stereotypical and he didn’t want that.
“There are people who say ‘If you don’t look for racism, you won’t find it’ but the reality is that when you see it so much, something you are not conscious that you have the defense,” he said. “So when something comes across, you might miss an opportunity because of the fact of how it’s worded. So when it said ‘Latin Lover – telenovela accent’ I was like ‘oh no, not another one.’ I put it away for the day.”
Mendez eventually picked it up and was blown away.
“Because not only of the fact that they didn’t ‘Speedy Gonzalez’ him but the story was so true, true characters, no clichés. The way it was layered, I said ‘This is good stuff.’”
“Jane the Virgin,” now it is second season, follows the story of Jane Villanueva, the daughter of a teenage mother, who did not want to repeat her mother’s mistakes but ends up pregnant after a snafu at the doctor’s office. The show’s lead, Gina Rodriguez, won a Golden Globe for her portrayal – only the second Latina to do so.
“It’s not necessarily a Latino show. It’s a show about a family – a family of women, a family about intergenerational dynamics,” Mendez said. “It’s about all those things (and) they just happen to be Latino.”
He added: “To get ‘Jane,’ where they not only allowed me to have an accent but turn it up 150 percent, that’s an affirmation (of my work).”
Now Mendez is using his talents to tell his own stories with his very own motion comic.
Called “Mike Tomb” and out later this year, the motion comic follows the story of a Dominican-American headstone maker who decides to pursue his dreams after contracting a serious illness. The story is actually inspired by his father, who owned a headstone-making business.
“My parents came from the Dominican Republic as immigrants and a lot of the jobs immigrants first find are factory jobs. He, my father, just happened to land in a factory that made headstones,” Mendez told FNL. “The idea behind it is something for us – and by I ‘us’ I mean the American Latinos – the a-cultural Latino, the Latino that has not really been presented often and I would like to.”