As the 2016 election hits the home stretch, many of the cast members of East Los High have recognized that as public figures, they can do something to turn out the Latino vote. Given that the Hulu show typically touches on social issues and that a storyline about nonprofit Voto Latino featured prominently on season four, the actors’ efforts seem like a natural extension of their on-screen personas. In an election cycle marred by nativist and inflammatory rhetoric, they know the stakes are incredibly high. And Gabrielle Walsh, Danielle Vega, and Cinthya Carmona have decided it’s not a time to remain nonpartisan; the three women are proudly standing with Hillary Clinton.
With plenty of think pieces about why celebrities should or should not speak out on politics and the backlash that sometimes follows when stars voice their political opinions, it can be scary to speak out. But in my conversation with the three actors, they had no reservations about backing Clinton.
“I’m a very proud Latina, and I’m an immigrant,” Carmona told me. “My family and I came here to the United States from Colombia when I was 3 years old. And I witnessed my mother and my father both work two to three jobs to put food on the table, to send us to school, to make sure that we grew up feeling as Americans. So when Trump, as we know, speaks of Latinos as rapists and murderers, he’s insulting all of us. We’re fueled in large by immigrants, and I believe that Hillary strongly supports that idea.”
Carmona quipped that even her on-screen character Brandie – a newcomer whose quest to become Bomb Squad captain at all costs gives her some common ground with Donald Trump – wouldn’t support the Republican presidential candidate. After all, Brandie’s at least shown she has some redeemable qualities.
Walsh and Vega can similarly explain why their characters would stand with Clinton. Walsh’s character, Sofia, would particularly be affected by Trump’s threat of deporting millions of undocumented immigrants. But in real-life, after looking into Clinton’s history, Walsh decided the former Secretary of State was the most viable choice. Vega wholeheartedly agrees with this, and adds that she believes Clinton’s looking out for everyone, including the most disenfranchised communities.
“I don’t want someone to represent me who is sexist, who only thinks highly of his own race, and has no idea or is even considering what the history of America truly is,” she told me. “We were built on immigration. We were built with other people coming from different countries and making America what it is – on the back of Latinos, on the backs of African Americans, on the backs of [indigenous populations.] So why the heck would you dismiss all of those people simply because you want your own race to succeed?”
East Los High is a show made by Latinos, starring Latinos, and for Latinos, so the issues it chooses to highlight are ones that most matter to our community. Perhaps this is why the show has hit a nerve, even with its actors. Walsh credits her on-screen counterpart Sofia and the series with helping her become more invested. “Being in East Los High and being welcomed to the cast as a political activist… has really caused me to open my eyes and do more research and want to become more proactive and involved,” she said. As a result, she’s participated in a few Voto Latino PSAs with castmate Carlito Olivero.
And they’re not the only ones. Two weeks ago, Tracy Perez and Ashley Campuzano joined Tony Revolori and Noel Gugliemi for a Stand and Deliver-inspired PSA. The Voto Latino ad titled Ganas doesn’t encourage Latinos to vote for any particular candidate, but it reminds our growing demographic that we can sway the election.
This week, more East Los High cast members – Alexandra Rodriguez and Jorge Díaz – participated in a second Ganas PSA.
As voter registration deadlines quickly approach before the November 8 election, the East Los High cast isn’t taking any chances.