With the heightened discussion around colorism and the erasure of Afro-Latinos in Hollywood following the recent criticism of In The Heights, author Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez is now joining the conversation. The New York Times best-selling author took to Twitter to share her own experience on the topic from over a decade ago.
Valdes-Rodriguez has previously shared her attempts in getting a TV series based on her 2003 book The Dirty Girls Social Club off the ground at NBC in 2010. The book’s original storyline follows a group of six Latina friends who met in college, with two of the main characters being Afro-Latina. When she read the tv-made pilot by Lisa Leschin, she called it “racist.” Eleven years later, Valdes-Rodriguez still isn’t holding back about the situation and exposing more of what allegedly happened.
“Not sure who needs to hear this but I burned my deal at NBC to the ground when producer Ann López erased all the #afrolatino characters in my book,” she claimed via Twitter earlier this week. “She and producer Lynette Ramirez told me ‘no one wants to see black people on TV & black Latinos confuse America.’”
Remezcla has not been able to reach López or Ramirez for comment.
Valdes-Rodriguez added that she was “severely punished in Hollywood” for speaking out against the erasure of Afro-Latinos. “I was told I’d never work in the business again,” she continued. That’s when the author says she chose to walk away from the industry, writing: “I’ve been poor all my life. I’d rather be truthful about history and merely an author without a film or series, I said, than sell out to ongoing erasure of African disapora in Latin America.”
An on-screen adaptation of The Dirty Girls Social Club never came to fruition as Valdes-Rodriguez has declined any developments that don’t fit the necessary representation. “I always shut it down because they always want to resort to inaccurate stereotypes that serve power,” she wrote in the Twitter thread. As for the recent conversation around Afro-Latino representation in Hollywood, the author dropped her take: “Make no mistake – the erasure is intentional, because the US idea that “blacks and Latinos” are distinct groups fighting for the crown of “most adored Other” is nothing short of Machiavellian.”
Now, after 15 years of waiting, Valdes-Rodriguez announced in the same conversation that she was “about to sign a movie deal” to adapt the book on her own terms with the Afro-Latino characters included.
“I’m happy to say it was worth the wait,” she wrote. “A lot can happen in 15 years. Our film is going to KICK DOWN ALL THE DOORS.”