School's In Session: Guest DJ Actress Miriam Colon

Antonio (Luke Ganalon) and Ultima (Miriam Colon) in the film Bless Me Ultima, based on the classic Chicano book of the same name. i i

Antonio (Luke Ganalon) and Ultima (Miriam Colon) in the film Bless Me Ultima, based on the classic Chicano book of the same name. Courtesy of the artist hide caption

itoggle caption Courtesy of the artist
Antonio (Luke Ganalon) and Ultima (Miriam Colon) in the film Bless Me Ultima, based on the classic Chicano book of the same name.

Antonio (Luke Ganalon) and Ultima (Miriam Colon) in the film Bless Me Ultima, based on the classic Chicano book of the same name.

Courtesy of the artist

As our influence in the U.S. increases, controversy has swirled around portrayals of Latinos in the media, as critics often note a disconnect between reality and how it's portrayed in movies and on television.

Against significant odds, Hispanics have made enormous strides in every aspect of American culture and industry. But turn on the television or drop into your local movie theater, and if there's a Hispanic on screen at all, some type of illicit activity is usually involved; if the character is a woman, she'll likely be oversexed and obnoxiously loud. The joke is on these media themselves; the myopic view they serve has failed to attract a growing Hispanic audience.

In 1956, when legendary Puerto Rican singer Ismael Rivera released this classic song, Miriam Colon was still on the island, working as a young actress.

Hollywood's failure to provide an accurate, comprehensive or even compassionate vision of Hispanics is nothing new. But before most of us were even around to turn on a TV set or buy a movie ticket, Puerto Rican actress Miriam Colon was breaking barriers and shattering stereotypes.

Colon starred in the film Los Peloteros (The Ballplayers), one of the first Puerto Rican films. She became the first Puerto Rican to belong to the Actor's Studio, and was one of the first members of the Puerto Rican Travelling Theater. Most importantly, she's always stuck to substantive, dignified roles. Most recently, she appears as the lead actress in the film Bless Me Ultima, based on one of the pillars of Chicano literature.

Join us on this episode of Alt.Latino for an insightful, fascinating conversation with Puerto Rican actress Miriam Colon.

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A medida de que los latinos nos vamos convirtiendo en uno de los grupos mas influyentes en Estados Unidos, también se intensifica el diálogo sobre cómo nos representan los medios masivos de comunicación. Las voces críticas han notado que existe un cisma entre la realidad que vivimos los hispanos y como figuramos en la pantalla grande y pequeña.

Colon is good friends with legendary Cuban vocalist La Lupe; she once presented a biographical play about the singer through her theater company, The Puerto Rican Travelling Theater.

Prende tu televisor o ve al cine, y si por alguna casualidad llega a haber un hispano en la pantalla, posiblemente este haciendo algo ilegal. Si se trata de una mujer latina, es muy probable que sea un personaje hipersexualizado, cosificado y por supuesto, sumamente bullicioso. Es una fórmula que le ha costado a la industria del entretenimiento repetidos fracasos al intentar seducir a la audiencia latina que cada vez es mayor.

La miopía hollywoodense- esa incapacidad de ofrecer una visión acertada o siquiera integral de los latinos no es nada nuevo. Y antes de que la mayoría de nosotros estuviese vivo para prender el televisor o comprar un boleto de cine, la actriz boricua Miriam Colón ya estaba luchando por derribar esas barreras y combatiendo aquellos estereotipos. Su debut fue en una de las primeras películas puertorriqueñas, Los Peloteros; luego se convirtió en la primera persona boricua en el legendario Actors Studio en Nueva York; y una de las primeras integrantes del Puerto Rican Travelling Theater. Colón es una actriz que ha logrado dos cosas que en la industria son tristemente difíciles de hacer simultáneamente: celebrar su latinidad mientras que representa papeles dignificados y sustanciosos. Entre ellos, el más reciente como el personaje principal en la película Bless Me Última, uno de los pilares de la literatura chicana.

Únete a nuestra conversación junto a la fantástica Miriam Colón.

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