John Leguizamo faced similar challenges to many Latino actors when he was starting out in Hollywood. Despite being talented and hard working, there weren’t many chances for him in the industry because of the lack of diversity at that time. In the 1990s, he finally got his big break, but even before that, the Colombian native decided to make things happen for himself.

Leguizamo created one-man shows, such as Mambo Mouth, where he talked about his experiences growing up as a Latino. These shows helped him become successful on Broadway and gave him a way to speak out about issues that mattered to him.

John Leguizamo
John Leguizamo in The Infiltrator

Leguizamo has been pushing for more Latino representation in movies and TV for a while now. Encanto is that one landmark moment for him – a major studio film centered around a Latino family. It wasn’t just Latino; it was specifically Colombian, featuring Afro-Latino and indigenous characters, a far cry from stereotypical portrayals.

John Leguizamo Praises Encanto‘s Impact on Latino Culture

A still from Encanto (2021)

Even though about 19.1% of the people in the US are Latino (via NBC News), they don’t often see many characters like themselves in movies and on TV. However, one animated movie did justice. Actor John Leguizamo, who is Latino himself, recently talked about why a Disney movie entitled Encanto was such a big deal for Latino culture.

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Leguizamo feels really good about how well the film did. He told Business Insider,

“It was so satisfying, and I’m sure healing, on so many levels.”

The movie didn’t just connect with Latino viewers; it also reached people from all kinds of backgrounds. Encanto won Best Animated Feature at the 79th Golden Globe Awards. Critics loved it too, giving it an impressive 91% score on Rotten Tomatoes, which even beats out Frozen II’s 77%.

Disney Rewarded Encanto Cast for Surpassing Frozen

Frozen 2
A still from Frozen 2 (2019)

Encanto‘s catchy fan-favorite song We Don’t Talk About Bruno topped Frozen‘s Let It Go as the highest-charting Disney animated song and even received an Oscar nod.

Beating the super popular Frozen II (which currently sits at $1.450 billion at the box office, according to Box Office Mojo), Encanto proved itself as a global hit with its song (even though it only grossed $256.7 million, according to Box Office Mojo). The success wasn’t lost on Disney, who rewarded the cast with bonuses beyond their initial contracts. As John Leguizamo told in the same interview:

“And then to be a massive hit that beat ‘Frozen’ is incredible. It was such a huge hit that we got bonuses that weren’t in our contracts — that’s how big. Because Disney doesn’t give you something that’s not in your contracts. For them to give us a bonus on top of that after? Whew, you must have been huge.”

Leguizamo’s story and the success of Encanto offer a beacon of hope. Latino actors are making strides, and audiences are loving their diverse stories. Yet, there’s still work to be done. As the 63-year-old star pointed out, their stories deserve a place at the forefront.

Also read: Frozen 3: Kristen Bell Forces Disney by ‘Announcing’ the Threequel

Watch Encanto and Frozen II on Disney+.

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