Eva Mendes Speaks Out About Latina & Black Actresses In Hollywood

There’s something strange going on in such films as the recent Will Smith blockbuster “Hitch”: these days African American leading men tend to be cast opposite Latinas instead of black actresses, reports National Correspondent Allison Samuels in the March 14 issue of Newsweek (on newsstands Monday, March 7). Why is Eva Mendes, who stars opposite Smith in “Hitch,” considered too dark to be paired with a white lead, but just right for an African American? “I don’t even know what to say about it anymore,” Mendes tells Newsweek. “Certainly I’ve benefited, because I’ve got to work with Ice Cube, Denzel and Will. But it’s lame. I wish the mentality wasn’t so closed.”

Apparently Hollywood doesn’t think America is ready for, say, Mos Def and Kate Hudson heating up the screen-though out in the real America, more black men are married to white women than to Latinas-and the conventional wisdom is, as actress Nia Long puts it, “two black characters equals a black film and not just a movie about two people.” Moreover, Samuels writes, Hispanics are now the largest American minority group: businesswise, it’s a no-brainer. The casting of Smith and Mendes “just is a good business sense,” says Jeff Friday, a producer and founder of American Black Film Festival.

Long says Smith has called her several times about roles, though not for “Hitch.” “Will obviously has say, but not completely,” she says. “If we can’t play the girlfriend, then Hollywood has to figure out what to do with us.”

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