“I come from many different places, but I think my warmth and my outlook on life are from Argentina,” says Anya Taylor-Joy in fluent Spanish.
“I’m very grateful for that part of my history. I feel very proud to come from Argentina.”
It may be hard for some to imagine, but, yes, the blonde, blue-eyed ingénue of this year’s Jane Austen remake “Emma.”, who made her baby-faced breakout in 2015’s disturbing psychological thriller “The VVitch,” and now stars as a red-headed chess prodigy with substance abuse issues in Netflix’s hit “The Queen’s Gambit” – is Latina.
Anya Taylor-Joy, 24, was born the youngest of 6 children in Miami.
She grew up in Buenos Aires, Argentina, before moving to England. Her mother is of South African, British, and Spanish ancestry, and her father is Argentinian.
“The VVitch,” 2015
Anya switches easily between British- and American-accented English – and Spanish, which she speaks fluently. The Argentine considers Spanish her native tongue; she didn’t speak English until she was 8 years old.
In a recent interview with Con Todo Netflix, Anya talked about her Latin American roots.
“My favorite foods come from Argentina,” she said in Spanish. “Empanadas, el pan de provolone, which I like more than pizza, and churros with dulce de leche.”
“I come from many different places, but I think my warmth and my outlook on life are from Argentina. I’m very grateful for that part of my history. I feel very proud to come from Argentina.”
“The Queen’s Gambit,” 2020
Anya is exceptional. But it is important to recognize that being a fluently bi-lingual Latina who can deftly navigate multi-cultural personal and professional worlds is not exceptional. The majority of us do it every day. Hollywood seems completely unaware of this. Despite strides in diversity, Latinos made up only 3% of lead or co-lead roles, and only 4% of all speaking roles, between 2007 and 2018. And these few roles continue to exoticize Latinas and relegate Latinos to stereotypical roles as maids, workmen, and criminals with broken English or a barrio accent. Many Latinos did grow up in East LA, and our way of speaking reflects that. Many of us are immigrants, work in the service industry, and struggle with English as a second language. And those stories should be told, with pride. But, they should not limit us.
Anya demonstrates that, given the opportunity, Latinas can play any part. And we should.
Proud Latinas come in all colors.