The Portrayal of Minority Women in Television

I love watching television, even more so now that TV is becoming increasingly diverse in terms of casting, with shows like: Jane the Virgin, Fresh Off the Boat, Black-ish, Scandal, How to Get Away With Murder, and The Mindy Project. With that being said, there are still problems in terms of how minority women have been, and continue to be portrayed on screen. I think one of the most frustrating things about the portrayal of minority women in television and film is that we have yet to break down the stereotypes associated with them.

For instance, “the loud and ‘ghetto’ Black woman,” or the “spicy Latina/Latin maid,” or the “quiet and submissive Asian woman/tiger mom,” are all stereotypes that are still perpetuated on our TVs today. I find myself struggling to understand why up until now, the portrayals of minority women have just begun to transcend these stereotypes.

With shows like Devious Maids, which I’ve personally never seen (but I hear is an enjoyable watch), it’s hard to assume that minority women are moving forward. Every step that minority women take forward with shows like Jane the Virgin, they take one step back with Maids. Ironically enough, Gina Rodriguez said in an interview, regarding Maids:

“I wouldn’t say that I chose Jane over Devious Maids. When I was presented with Devious Maids…after I did a film at Sundance and I had an ABC holding deal, I found it limiting that that was the one that was available to me. I found it limiting for the stories that Latinos have.”

Sure, shows like Devious Maids are fun, but the point that Rodriguez makes is a good one: Latinos and other minorities have stories that have yet to be told. Latinas, and other groups of minority women, are more than their stereotypes, and it’s about time they be portrayed as multi-dimensional rather than static.

On a different note, the second problem that needs to be addressed is the need for more roles in Hollywood for minority women, so that their stories become visible and young minority women start seeing themselves as more than what Hollywood has made them out to be in the past. We need more Olivia Pope's, we need more Jane's, we need more Mindy's—and for a nation as diverse as the United States is, it’s disappointing that what is on the screen doesn’t reflect that.    

Minority women and girls need to see themselves reflected on the screen so they can see that they’re capable of becoming budding writers like Jane, OBGYN's like Mindy, and high profile crisis managers like Olivia. They need to see themselves represented at award shows, so that they can aspire to win Emmys like Viola Davis and Golden Globes like Gina Rodriguez, or success in any field for that matter. They need to see themselves not only in different roles on television, but in an industry, like show business, where white men typically have run the show.

Lately, there has been an increase of diversity on the screen, but with the latest Oscar turn out, in terms of minority and female nominations, Hollywood has disappointed.

It’s about time that Hollywood addresses the fact that there are minority stories that have gone untold, and talented minority women that have gone ignored.

For Gina Rodriguez’s full statement read here