Early in his career, Puerto Rican actor Jeff Lima (TV’s Chicago Fire) remembers being tired of auditioning for the same stereotypical Latino roles.
“I can’t tell you how many of the same characters I was going out for,” Lima told Variety. “Back then, I tried to make sense of it and wouldn’t say no to work, but it took a great deal of stepping outside the dream.”
Lima assumed other Latinos in the industry were feeling the same frustrations he was. So, he did something about it.
Three years ago, Lima launched the Jeff Lima Production Award, a $10,000 scholarship given to a New York University student or alum to kickstart a short film project that makes a positive impact on the way Latinos are portrayed on screen.
“It’s about creating opportunity,” he said. “As much as I love being in front of the camera, the hope is that this award opens doors for younger talent.”
For him, that opportunity came when actress Gina Rodriguez (TV’s Jane the Virgin) took his headshot to her agent. That simple courtesy put him on a road to where he can now take on roles that he enjoys and encourage more content creators to produce work that Latinos can be proud of taking.
“My career really took off from there,” he said. “In advocating for representation, there will be fewer instances of Latinx actors encountering those very superficial characters.”
The deadline for the 2021 Jeff Lima Production Award is April 23. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.