The development saga of Baz Luhrmann’s polemical hip hop-themed series, The Get Down, continues, and this time it seems we have some tentative good news. In an article last week we revealed that The Get Down’s four male leads had been announced, and were a bit taken aback by the apparent absence of a Latino character at the series’ dramatic core. It’s an obvious fact that Latinos, specifically Puerto Ricans, were one of the driving forces behind the early development of hip hop culture, with b-boy crews, graff writers, DJs and even some emcees representing for la Isla del Encanto in the multicultural barrios of the South Bronx.
But who could expect a lily-white Australian director and his equally pallid production team to get the memo that the Bronx was over 33% Latino by late 1970s? Indeed, Luhrmann’s utter lack of street cred has been the root of a lot of the skepticism coming from the communities that actually lived and breathed the history he’s attempting to represent.
Still, in our hyperconnected world of up-to-the-second information, it never hurts to take these things with their requisite grain of salt and let them digest before adding more noise to the cacophonous echo-chamber of Web 2.0. And we are happy to announce that cool heads have prevailed.
Meet The Get Down’s female lead Mylene Cruz an aspiring singer and preacher’s daughter who dreams of disco stardom. The part will be played by 18-year-old newcomer and Miami native Herizen Guardiola, whose golden pipes set her apart from the rest of the aspiring television vedettes who tried out for the role. We can imagine that Mylene’s deeply religious home life, headed by family patriarch Reverend Ramon Cruz, will be a point of conflict for our young heroine as she entertains fantasies of pop superstardom, but we’ll have to see. Also yet to be seen is whether Mylene will be as tough and strong-willed as the flesh-and-blood Bronx Latinas who helped make hip hop happen, or just another two-dimensional “object of affection” for the male leads.
Without a doubt, The Get Down represents an unprecedented opportunity to validate the efforts of hip hop’s grassroots pioneers, both those who made it to the big time and those whose names will never be studied in university Hip Hop Studies courses. Let’s just hope they don’t screw it up.
The Get Down will debut on Netflix in 2016.