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'Family' Values

May 14, 1995

I do not know what makes me angrier: the general absence of Latino actors in movies that speak to their experience or the ignorance of filmmakers and actors who are involved in such movies ("Miami Masala," by Patrick Goldstein, May 7).

According to Mira Nair, director of "The Perez Family," there existed no Latino actors who were both pleasing to the eye and soul or who could offer the excellence that Anjelica Huston or Marisa Tomei do. However, according to Tomei, the beauty of her role was "Dottie's nice Cuban ass." Hell, all Nair had to do was find the right rear end. If our lower half and our apparently hyper-erotic sexuality is what defines being a Cuban or, for that matter, a Latina woman, Nair should have no problem casting her movie.

If one wishes to rely on racist cultural stereotypes to explore the experiences of Latinos, then perhaps you cannot find any Latino/a actors. However, if you wish to develop Latino/a characters with integrity and an open mind to the diversity of their experiences, there are a plethora of actors. Have they heard of "My Family/Mi Familia"?

ELIZABETH GONZALEZ

Los Angeles

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Question: What's the only Latin-themed film that was ever a box-office hit?

Answer: "La Bamba," directed by Luis Valdez with an all-Latino cast.

Actually, Hollywood and poor Ms. Nair have it backward . . .

Give the audience authenticity and then and only then will you get genuine "soul."

MARCIA DEL MAR

Calabasas Park

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