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Catherine Zeta-Jones criticized for playing Latina character


Catherine Zeta-Jones criticized for playing Latina character


Catherine Zeta-Jones is the latest actress to take on the role of Griselda Blanco, a notorious Colombian drug lord known as the “Cocaine Godmother,” in the upcoming Lifetime movie, “The Griselda Blanco Story.”

Zeta-Jones learned about Blanco while watching the 2006 documentary “Cocaine Cowboys,” which featured interviews with individuals involved in the drug trade.

“They kept mentioning this woman,” Zeta-Jones said.

“Griselda, Griselda Blanco. And these men who were very dangerous and very powerful in that dark, dark, world were speaking of this woman like they revered her and still, after all these years, feared her.”

Zeta-Jones was surprised that she didn’t know more about Blanco, given the infamous reputation of other drug lords like Pablo Escobar and Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán.

“We know about Escobar, we know about El Chapo now, we know about these key figures in this world,” she said, “but we never hear about this woman. Who is this woman?”


The actress had been working to develop a project about Blanco for years before it finally found a home on Lifetime.

“It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life as an actor,” Zeta-Jones said of portraying the drug lord.

“It instilled in me why I wanted to be in this business; it was never for the red carpet or sunglasses. For me, it was being a character, and to find those women and find those characters that I could really be under the skin of.”

Zeta-Jones’s casting has drawn criticisms of whitewashing online, as she is Welsh and the character she is portraying is Latina.

The actress addressed this issue in an interview, stating: “I am a Welsh actress, who doesn’t happen to look like what you think someone from Wales would look like. I have my own language; I speak Welsh.”

“And so, for me to wait for a role that is fit for the way I look physically, that is not a Welsh role, where I don’t use my accent—I never use my accent. Have you ever heard me use my accent that I’m speaking with right now?”

Zeta-Jones went on to explain that this is not the first time she has played a character of a different ethnicity.

“This happens to be the third Hispanic I’ve played. I played the lead in Zorro, and I screen-tested with six Hispanic women, and I got the role. I don’t know what to say.

“And I was a complete unknown at this point; it wasn’t because I had a name or box-office value.

“Four of the actresses are my contemporaries to this day. I played a woman of Spanish descent in Traffic as well. I have to take [the roles] I believe I can embody.

“I can’t be the person to fight against a very big issue, and I won’t take on that role. There have been so many actors who have played ‘against type.’ That’s sort of what we do.”

The actress is aware of the lack of diversity in Hollywood.

“I’m all for diversity, and diversity across the board. Not just color, race, sex — everything. I want to see more diversity behind the camera.

“This is a white man’s business, and now, hard to believe after all of these years, we’re finally trying to break that glass ceiling.”

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