John Leguizamo Urges Emmy Voters to Not ‘White Wash' Awards

john leguizamo urges emmy voters to not ‘white wash' awards

John Leguizamo

It's been nearly a decade since the lack of diversity in awards season was highlighted by the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite - and John Leguizamo knows there's still work to do.

"I feel now more than ever we have the power to change the narrative… to give people of color a chance to be represented in our industry proportionally - we're almost 30% of the subscribers on streaming platforms but less than 6% of the leads," Leguizamo shared in an exclusive statement to Us Weekly on Sunday, June 9.

That's why the Green Veil actor, 63, published an open letter to Emmy voters as an ad in The New York Times on Sunday, June 9. "Sometimes people are afraid of change, other times they're just lazy," Leguizamo told Us. "My letter in The New York Times is about empowering my peers to take real action, because change is truly at their fingertips, they just have to make the decision to be real allies. And until they do… I won't stop."

In the letter, he urged voters to consider the performances of non-white actors that should be championed.

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"Please let this be the year we finally embrace change," Leguizamo wrote. "The year we truly find Equity and see artists of color represented across not just one category but ALL categories."

He added, "Let us not continue to white wash our Awards shows. Instead let this year be the catalyst that inspires the Next Generation of minority and underrepresented artists."

Leguizamo has one Emmy (for his Spike Lee-directed one-man show Freak) and has been nominated twice in recent years. Still, the letter is not the first time he's spoken out against Hollywood's treatment of non-white actors. In 2022, the Waco actor spoke out against the casting of Chris Pratt as the lead in the Super Mario Bros. Movie. Leguizamo played Luigi alongside Bob Hoskins in the Nintendo character's first movie adaptation.

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"For them to go backwards and not cast another [actor of color] kind of sucks," he said. "A lot of people love the original. I did Comic Con in New York and in Baltimore, and everyone's like, ‘No, no, we love the old one, the original.' They're not feeling the new one. I'm not bitter. It's unfortunate."

Read Leguizamo's entire letter to Emmy voters below:

Dear Hollywood,

Please let this be the year we finally embrace change. The year we truly find Equity and see artists of color represented across not just one category but ALL categories.

I know you're tired of hearing words like "inclusivity" and "diversity" - treading water while you try to understand how to put actions behind these sentiments.

Look no further! It's simple! There are hundreds of prolific non-white artists who deserve to be considered for Awards this year, not because they are simply… Black, Brown, Indigenous or Asian but because they are truly great… exceptional artists who have achieved that greatness with a foot on their neck for far too long.

Let this be the start of a new era.

Let us not continue to white wash our Awards shows. Instead let this year be the catalyst that inspires the Next Generation of minority and underrepresented artists… a generation who might finally see a reflection of themselves on that stage and think…

"If they can, maybe I can too…"

Your peer,

John Leguizamo

Writer, Actor, Producer, Director and Colombian American who won't ever let anyone tell him "no"

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