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El Salvadoran
GHOSTWRITER/PBS/1992
*(David Lopez/costar) Alejandro "Alex" Fernandez, youngster from El Salvador who along with a group of multi-ethnic kids solved mysteries with the help of a spiritual entity who typed messages to them via a computer owned by Jamal Jenkins. Also featured was Mayteana Morales as Alex's sister Gabriella "Gaby" Fernandez who shares a bedroom in a small house in Brooklyn. Alex attends Zora Neale Hurston Middle School. Gaby went to Washington Elementary school where she was a reporter on the school newspaper.

I MARRIED DORA/ABC/1987-88
*(Elizabeth Pena/costar) Dora Calderon, an attractive, El Salvadoran housekeeper/nanny working for a divorced Los Angeles architect and his two children. When she was threatened with deportation, her employer married her (he was afraid the Death Squads may try to kill her on her return). Their platonic relationship soon developed into true love. The series producers added a small message at the end of the first episode that read: "WARNING, Marrying an illegal alien to avoid deportation is a Federal offense punishable by fines and/or imprisonment. Do not try this in your own home". TRIVIA NOTE: Although of Cuban descent Elizabeth Pena was born in Elizabeth, New Jersey (for which she is named). She spent her first eight years in Cuba and still carries strong memories from her days there.

WILL & GRACE/NBC/1998-2006
**(Shelley Morrison) Rosario Salazar, a Salvadoran maid who worked in New York City for a wealthy, white employer named Karen Walker. To keep from being deported, Rosario and Karen arranged a fake marriage with a gay man named Jack who later demanded palimony from Karen when he found Rosario in bed with another man. Rosario and Karen’s prickly but caring relationship included such exchanges as “In my country I was a school teacher, says Rosario.” Karen replies “In this country you wash my bras” and “Hey, you’re on the clock, tamale. Get to work.” Rosario responds “Listen, Lady, I’ll squash you like a wormy apple.” Karen even made light of the fact that Rosario's brother is a political prisoner. Unfortunately, the “tamale” crack irritated the Hispanic community (who considered it an ethnic slur) and inspired discussions of a “brownout“ and a boycott of major networks in the fall of 1999 that protested the new season’s lack of minority characters. Federico Subervi, a University of Texas Media professor added “When Latinos and others are saying increase our numbers, it does not mean increase our stereotypical representations.” Lisa Navarette of the National Council of La Raza, the group coordinating the two-week boycott of ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC remarked ‘It’s unfortunate that a show that has done quite a bit to break stereotypes about gays would resort to such cheap shots at the Latino community.

 

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