After a 30-year career in Hollywood, fans are still shocked to learn that Catherine Zeta-Jones is not, in fact, Latina. She’s not Hispanic either. Instead, Zeta-Jones is Welsh and Irish.
The topic comes up every time Zeta-Jones is featured in a new project, especially when she’s playing a character…who is Latine. It happened when she portrayed Colombian drug lord Griselda Blanco in the film Cocaine Godmother. Now, it’s happening with her role in the Netflix series Wednesday.
While Zeta-Jones doesn’t play a Latina on Wednesday (she portrays Wednesday’s mother Morticia Addams), people are wondering about her ethnic background since the rest of the Addams family cast members are played by Latine actors: Jenna Ortega as the title character Wednesday, Luis Guzman as Gomez, Isaac Ordonez as Pugsley, and Fred Armisen as Uncle Fester.
As the main character of the series, Ortega never questioned the ethnic background of Wednesday Addams. It was evident to her from the very beginning. “Wednesday is technically a Latina character and that’s never been represented so, for me, any time that I have an opportunity to represent my community, I want that to be seen,” she said in a past interview.
In the past, Zeta-Jones has received criticism (and tried to defend it) for playing Latine characters. That’s likely one of the reasons so many people are still confused when the topic of her ethnicity comes up. In addition, when you’re playing characters with names like Eléna Montero (The Mask of Zorro) and Helena Ayala (Traffic), things can get complicated for some audiences.
Catherine Zeta-Jones probably won’t stop playing these roles since she has stated that she auditions for these characters because she believes she “can embody” them, so it’s important to let people know that in doing so, she’s taking a role away from a Latina actress who is already extremely underrepresented in Hollywood.
Again, Morticia Addams isn’t a Latina character, but maybe she should’ve been.