Broadway’s Mandy Gonzalez, Bianca Marroquín and Lindsay Mendez are committed to the “sisterhood” of Latinas in the arts, and they are all working hard to encourage young people to pursue creative work. Pictured from left to right: Actresses Lindsay Mendez, Mandy Gonzalez and Bianca Marroquín.
Mandy Gonzalez was a teenager when she sat in her bedroom in Saugus, Calif. and watched the cast of “Rent” perform at the Tony Awards. Watching actress Daphne Rubin-Vega sing “Seasons of Love” made a lasting impression because she was “someone who looked like me… I thought ‘I can do this,’” recounted Gonzalez.
Flash forward to today, and there’s no doubt Gonzalez, who is Mexican and Jewish, has made it in the acting world. She currently plays Angelica in Broadway’s hit musical “Hamilton.”
Gonzalez is one of a small group of Hispanic professional theater actors working on Broadway today. Even though Hispanics make up 18.3 percent of the nation’s total population, the first-ever Actors’ Equity Association study of diversity noted that less than 3 percent of its members identify as Hispanic or Latinx. Broadway audiences don’t reflect our country’s diversity, either. A January 2018 report from the Broadway League discovered that Latinos account for only 7.1 percent of theatergoers.
However, Broadway has indeed been inching toward progress in terms of diversity over the years. For example, the original 1979 Broadway production of “Evita” was picketed by the Hispanic Organization of Latin Actors for not hiring Latino actors to tell a story about Argentinians. But when “Evita” was revived in 2012, it had actors of Latin descent in the two lead roles, among others.
And today, a quick glance at the headshots of performers in “Hamilton” paint an inclusive picture. Aspiring Hispanic performers can also look to multiple Broadway shows for inspiration—there’s Karen Olivo in “Moulin Rouge,” Eva Noblezada in “Hadestown,” and Shireen Pimentel in the upcoming “West Side Story,” to name a few.
Still, many are quick to note there is still a long way to go.
Photo Credit: Matthew Murphy/Ted Ely/Courtesy of Bianca Marroquín
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