Shockingly Two of the “Latina” Stars in the ‘Charmed’ Reboot Aren’t Actually Latina
The Charmed reboot promised to bring a different kind of representation to television by having the three main witch sisters be Latinx. The intersectionality didn’t stop there, one of them would be Afro-Latina and another would be gay. That still seems to be the case for the characters, but the cast is a different story.
The Cheat Sheet caught up with Melonie Diaz, Sarah Jeffery, and Madeleine Mantock to talk about their characters at New York Comic-Con on Oct. 7. Jeffery and Mantock opened up about their backgrounds being different from the characters and what that means for the show.
Madeleine Mantock says she’s Afro-Carribean, but wants to play Afro-Latina respectfully on Charmed
Mantock plays Macy Vaughn who is a long-lost sister to the Vera sisters. She has a different dad from them and is partially Black, which is different from Mantock’s own background.
“Playing the Afro-Latina character, I think for me I’m just trying to be open,” said Mantock during the roundtable. “[I’m] open to the writers and trying to be respectful, because I’m Afro-Carribean. I’m not actually Afro-Latina and I do want to make that distinction because Melanie [Diaz] is actually the only person who is in her real life is Latina.” Mantock later specified that her real family is from Jamaica.
The British actress said that part of her preparation for the role was learning Spanish. “I can not butcher it,” said Mantock. “I can’t have this moment where Latinx people see themselves on TV and hear their language spoken and for me to be like sh*tting all over it.”
Sarah Jeffery says she’s African-American, English, and Indigenous Canadian
Jeffery also opened up about how her background is different from her character’s in the roundtables. When The Cheat Sheet asked how her background will be brought into the show she answered, “I think that’s something the writers are still sort of pouring over. Yeah, I know that we are representing the Latina community. I actually am African-American. I’m not Latina, which is a common misconception.”
This isn’t the first time Jeffery is playing a Latina character. She played Jennifer Lopez’s fictional daughter, Cristina Santos on Shades of Blue. In real life, her father is African-American and her mother is English and Indigenous Canadian. It seems like Jeffery’s entry point to her Charmed character, Maggie Vera, is that they are both biracial.
“I just hope to speak to the biracial experience,” said Jeffery. “I know what that’s like especially as a young woman and I hope that people feel represented and that’s the goal.”
Different fathers are being used to help the show explore their different backgrounds
It looks like the characters Mel (Melonie Diaz) and Maggie have the same father because their last name is Vera. But that might not be the case considering what Mantock and Jeffery said during the interview.
“That was part of the reason why Jennie [Snyder Urman] wanted to write different dads for the girls so it gives us leeway and it gives us a respectful avenue to kind of cover our bases,” explained Mantock. “So we’re not taking up space that we shouldn’t be.”
Jeffery also touched on this storyline saying, “That’s definitely something that we’re going to dive into. Playing with [how] they came from different fathers, and I think that gives an opportunity to be more specific with the different ethnicities.”
These casting decisions are odd ones given casting has been under a microscope lately. Mantock even acknowledged this in the interview when she reflected, “I don’t want to be Scarlett [Johansson] out here.” Johansson previously was criticized for playing an Asian character in Ghost in the Shell.
These casting discrepancies are surprising given the reboot is being executive produced by Jennie Snyder Urman. She worked on the properly cast Jane the Virgin along with Jessica O’Toole and Amy Rardin. But they are also all white women.
According to the Associated Press, Urman previously said, “We’ve had the chance to see three white witches. And obviously coming off Jane, I know so much more about what it means to be on screen, to see yourself represented, to see yourself being the hero of the story.”
The thing is the Latinx community won’t truly be seeing themselves on the show because two out of three stars won’t share their identity, tainting one of the biggest draws to the reboot.
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