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Netflix has decided to remove a Latina character from their upcoming comedy Uncoupled after actress Ada Maris said the role was "hurtful and derogatory".
Uncoupled stars The Matrix's Neil Patrick Harris as Michael, a gay man in his mid-40s whose partner of 17 years walks out on him and he is forced to rejoin the dating game. One of the supporting characters was Carmen, Michael's Latina housekeeper, who Maris read the sides for.
Mayans MC and Star Trek: Enterprise star Maris told Variety that she was excited at the prospect of working together with Harris and Netflix, but was disappointed when she read Carmen's lines in the audition material she was given.
She said, "When I opened it and saw that it wasn't even funny – it was hurtful and derogatory – I was shocked because I walked in expecting something very different given the way things are nowadays and the progress we've made."
Netflix has decided to remove the character entirely, saying: "We're sorry that Ms Maris had a negative experience, and this character will not appear in the series."
Variety reports that the two scenes included Carmen speaking in broken English and that in her opening scene, she was introduced as "nearly hysterical on the phone" to Michael because she thinks the apartment has been burgled after seeing that Colin's things are gone.
Maris said she subsequently wrote an open letter to Harris and Emily in Paris creator Darren Star, one of Uncoupled's executive producers, asking them to "recognise the harm" done by one-dimensional portrayals.
"You are modern gay men. How would you like to watch or play an outdated, offensively stereotypical gay part?" Maris reflected.
Harris is not part of the show's writing team and was not involved in the casting process for Carmen, according to Variety. Digital Spy has reached out to representatives for Harris and Star seeking comment.
"I just want [writers] to think the next time they write a character like that. I'm speaking out for the younger actors coming up so they face even less of that than my generation has," Maris added.
"These media images shape our ideas of ourselves. That's why it's really important that the portrayals be more realistic, not hurtful. We need to see ourselves more like we really are."
It's unclear if the character of Carmen was written out of Uncoupled following Maris' objections.
After hearing that the role had been cut from the show, Maris told Entertainment Weekly: "While it is gratifying to learn that the original character has been cut from the show, wouldn't it be even more so to see a wonderful new Latino character take its place?"
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