Robert Bianco, USA TODAY
Benjamin Bratt has an easy solution for networks seeking more Latino viewers.
"One of the ways that goes into garnering a larger Hispanic audience is to populate the forum with Hispanic talent," says Bratt, who will be heard Sept. 17 narrating the three-part, six-hour PBS documentary Latino Americans. "And the industry is at its worst. Look at the TV. How many brown faces do you see that are just people living your lives?"
And don't forget Asian actors, chimes in Rita Moreno, one of the film's subjects. "Oh my God, that's really hard. They're practically invisible …Our business has a long way to go."
In some ways, Moreno has seen both sides of that business. She won an Oscar for playing the Puerto Rican Anita in West Side Story -- but her first big break was playing the Asian Tuptim in The King and I. And she still feels guilty about it.
Moreno says when she went to audition for The King and I, she discovered that the other woman in contention for the role was the Vietnamese/French actress France Nuyen. "When I saw her on the set for the screen test, I thought 'Oh well, that's it. There's no way I'm going to get the part. There's no way I should get the part.'"
She did, and it helped make her star, but the regrets remain. "You're sliced in half. One of you is so grateful because it turned out to be a sensational movie...And on the other hand, France Nuyen never got her chance."