Melissa Barrera’s latest interview with De Los is definitely one for the books. In a phone conversation with columnist JP Bammer, Barrera talked about her new movie “Abigail.” She opened up about representation in Hollywood and the importance of being on the right side of history.

But most importantly, Melissa Barrera showed her tenacity is to be reckoned with.

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After making a name for herself on Mexican TV, the 33-year-old actress rose to fame in the U.S. with her role as Vanessa in the musical “In The Heights,” and as Sam Carpenter in the films “Scream” (2022) and “Scream VI” (2023).

However, it was her stance against Israel’s genocide in Palestine that showed where her heart is

In November 2023, a month after Hamas’ attack on Israel and the following invasion of Netanyahu’s government to Palestine, Barrera was fired from her lead role on the upcoming “Scream VII.” 

She had denounced on social media the genocide Israel was perpetrating on Palestine, speaking out on the ethnic cleansing taking place. Spyglass Media, the company behind the franchise, published a statement on its “zero-tolerance for antisemitism” stance. By her part, Barrera responded she would “continue to speak out for those that need it most.”

“It wasn’t easy to be labeled as something so horrible when I knew that wasn’t the case,” Barrera told Brammer during her latest interview. “But I was always at peace because I knew I had done nothing wrong. I was aligned with human rights organizations globally and with many experts, scholars, and historians. And, most importantly, Indigenous peoples around the world. I find that the Indigenous communities around the world are always on the right side of history, point blank, period.”

Despite admitting she did have “opportunities taken away,” the Mexican-born actress trusts she was doing the right thing.

“I got a lot of support from people in the industry, my family, friends, so many people reached out to me,” she said. “A part of me was terrified, but I don’t regret a thing. I don’t regret anything. And you know, we’re six months in, and people are still dying. It’s so obvious what’s going on, and people are coming around and speaking out, and I’m just happy about that. It gives me hope for the world.”

And when it comes to Hollywood, Barrera knew she was taking a risk

In an industry like Hollywood, saying what’s on your mind is a risky bet—especially if it’s on a controversial issue like Palestinians’ right to live. However, Melissa Barrera knew she was doing the right thing, and it paid off. Her new movie, Abigail, gave her the opportunity to portray a character far from the typical Latina stereotype Hollywood likes so much.

The vampire horror comedy directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett reimagines the 1936 Universal Classic Monsters film “Dracula’s Daughter,” but with a twist. In the 2024 version, a group of kidnappers capture the daughter of an influential underworld figure and demand $50 million for her release. While it looks like an easy feat, the kidnappers don’t know the young girl is actually a vampire.

On “Abigail,” Barrera plays Joey, a former military medic who doesn’t like being upfront about the action and questions the mission from day one. This move away from stereotypical roles was a cue from her “Scream” experience.

“I gravitate to roles that aren’t written for us,” Barrera said, “because that’s how we create more space for us in the industry when we fight for more when we go for roles that aren’t obviously Latino or Latina, and that doesn’t need an explanation.”

This might be the smartest way to challenge Hollywood’s insistence on blocking doors in the faces of Latinos 

According to the 2022 Latinos in Media Report, while the U.S. Latino population is the largest minority, it is the most underrepresented group in media. Latinos represent 19% of the American population. Yet, the on-screen representation of Latinos in streaming is 9.29%. In cable, it is a low 2.33%, and in English-language broadcast, it is 5.42%.

“We have the shows and the movies about speaking Spanglish. And you get the abuela, and you see the traditional food she made, and you get the Vicks VapoRub jokes and all that,” Barrera said. “And that kind of representation can be important for sure. But it feels like Latinos and Latinas always have to do something stereotypical to explain who we are, to make the majority comfortable with our presence, and I’ve never liked that. I enjoy just being a human being, allowed to exist without having to explain myself.

“My characters are going to be Latinas because I am,” she added.