Posted on January 20, 2023

‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ Actor Tenoch Huerta: ‘You Can Make Good Money with Representation’

Carole Horst, Variety, January 12, 2023

Introducing a new character to rabid Marvel Cinematic Universe audiences can be risky if it’s not stunt casting — think Kurt Russell as Chris Pratt’s dad in “Guardians of the Galaxy 2” — but “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’s” Namor owned the screen as soon as he flew out of the ocean on winged feet, decked out in Mesoamerican finery. Even better, Namor is played by Mexican actor Tenoch Huerta, a relative newcomer to Hollywood although viewers may know him from “Narcos: Mexico.”

But more importantly, Huerta embraced the opportunity to represent people who look like him in a major Hollywood blockbuster. His charisma and passion pour through the phone as he talks about Mexico, how his darker skin made him the object of racism and how the entertainment business prefers “white” Latinos. His activism accelerated when he learned his niece was being bullied because of the color of her skin. Huerta points out that local shows in Mexico and Latin America often star very light-skinned actors but not so much Indigenous or Black or other people of color from the region. “Producers say, ‘Oh, this is because the people demand white people in the movies,’” he says with a mocking tone. “But that’s not true. This movie proves that that’s a lie.”

What does it mean for “Wakanda Forever” to be such a big hit?

I love these kinds of stories with representation not being the core of the story. The story itself was important but representation is part of the narrative. In a couple of weekends, we made half a billion dollars. So people love representation in the best way possible.{snip} You’re brown. You’re white. You’re Black. They love stories.

Americans tend to think racism is just a thing in the U.S., I think.

When they say that people just want to see white people in the movies and in TV, that’s white supremacist. In Latin America, we have a serious problem with white supremacists.