Eugenio Derbez has already achieved success in Latin America and is considered a household name. The actor, producer and director recently received his star on the coveted Hollywood Walk of Fame, an honor he dedicated to not only his family but to his Latino fans that have supported his career throughout the years.
Speaking with the Miracles From Heaven actor, I asked Derbez what is the dichotomy of already being a huge star in Mexico and now transitioning over to Hollywood.
“It’s hard when you come from another culture and another language. Trying to be funny in English is different,” the Mexican actor stated. “I don’t feel the same. It’s like I’m a different person. Every time I try to act or try to be funny in English it’s different. I sometimes need weeks to feel comfortable with the material. But the first time I read a script I felt so uncomfortable. So I need to work a lot. I need to make it mine. I really need to focus because it’s another culture, another language, it’s everything. It’s hard.”
While it may be difficult to get a jump-start in Tinseltown, Derbez stated that he has an understanding for what Latinos in the US want and what the industry should take in consideration.
“I think the example that Instructions Not Included brought to this country was that, if you give Latinos a good product with someone that they know [they will support it],” the 54 year-old actor replied. “What I have experienced here, in Hollywood, is that they want to make something for Latinos so they just hire someone with a last name like Martinez, Gonzalez or a Hispanic last name and they think that people are going to show up, but no. Latinos want to see their artists, their faces, the people they know. So if you give them the people they want and you give them the right movie and story, they will show up and they will blow the box office like they did with Instructions Not Included” (which became the highest-grossing Spanish-language film to open in North America).
Diversity has been a conversational topic since the #OscarSoWhite incident at this year’s 88th Academy Awards. It was the second year that only white actors were nominated in the Best Actor and Actress categories, which not only ignited a boycott from various celebrities but also gave host Chris Rock plenty to talk about during the ceremony.
“Chris Rock was doing the same thing that white people did to them. He was leaving out everyone. If you want to talk about diversity you should include everyone, not just African Americans,” Eugenio commented on the Oscar ceremony. “You should include Asians, Hispanics, everyone. He was just talking about African Americans and how they should have been included, but what about the rest of the people? I think it was a little unfair. I would have included everyone. That’s not diversity, that’s just black and white.”
So how do we take on diversity? In Derbez’s eyes it starts by creating your own content and giving others opportunities to show their work and be included. He recently created the production company 3Pas Studios, a film and TV shingle co-owned by Ben Odell. He hopes that his move to Los Angeles will garner bigger opportunities than in his native country. “I opened my new company where I am developing my own material, writing my own films and developing series for television. We just signed a deal with NBC Universal […] I’m writing a series based on my life called Don’t Judge Me, it’s a funny one. This year we are developing new ideas and stories that I think are very interesting. I want to bring everything that I have seen in my entire life, from Mexico and Latin America to the States because I think that they will be fresh and new. That’s what Salma [Hayek] did with Ugly Betty and then Sofia [Vergara] tried to do with Killer Women. There are so many great projects in Latin America that I am sure are going to be successful here [for example, like] Jane the Virgin.”