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Latina Comedy Duo Takes on 'SNL,' Hollywood in Fight for TV Diversity

By Mark Konkol | April 1, 2014 11:42am
 Comedy duo Wendy Mateo and Lori Diaz of "Dominizuelan" said what mainstream TV shows — like "Saturday Night Live" — are missing is more Latina writers, producers and actors.
Comedy duo Wendy Mateo and Lori Diaz of "Dominizuelan" said what mainstream TV shows — like "Saturday Night Live" — are missing is more Latina writers, producers and actors.
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DNAinfo/Mark Konkol

Latina comedians Wendy Mateo and Lori Diaz want "Saturday Night Live" creator Lorne Michaels to know they're "loco como el infierno” — that means "mad as hell” in Spanish — and not gonna take it anymore.

A recent "SNL" skit about a dimwitted Venezuelan mail-order bride (played by white comedian Cecily Strong) got the feisty Latina comedy duo "Dominizuelan” especially fired up.

So they fired back with a little satire of their own and posted it on social media alongside a new hashtag created by a New York City Latina comedy duo that riffs on and gives new meaning to the initials "SNL" — #StillNoLatinas.

Diaz, who lives in Roscoe Village, posted a skit on YouTube called "Ms. Latina Stereotype Explains Hollywood” that takes aim at "SNL" for using ethnic stereotypes to get cheap laughs at the expense of Latinas.

"You know what, 'SNL' made it evident that there were no Latinos in the writing room," said Mateo, who lives in North Center. "That doesn't make sense anymore when we are the fastest-growing demographic in the country."

But really, their fight isn't only against Michaels and his long-running, late-night variety show.

"Our open letter is to the entertainment industry in general. We're not going to play by their rules anymore," Diaz said. "Michaels can take 'SNL' and do whatever he feels like doing with it, even if he's missing an opportunity. It's not a big freaking secret that the Latino population is growing and they watch a lot of TV.”

The "SNL" skit that aired on March 8 featured cast member Strong as a hot-but-dumb Latina bombshell with a thick accent. It hit an especially sour note with Diaz.

"What made the sketch offensive was partly due to a Venezuelan beauty queen being shot in the head and killed during civil unrest in the country,” Diaz said. "It was international news, and then 'SNL' has a skit about a character who happens to be a Venezuelan beauty and they make her an idiot. It was the last straw … and infuriated Latina comedians and Venezuelans like me."

In fact, Jenni Ruiza and "Jesenia” of the New York City comedy duo Comedy Girls posted their own video to put heat on "SNL" — and maybe even shame Michaels into hiring them on his late-night comedy show. 

"When you hire us, people will stop thinking that you hate … Latinas,” Ruiza says in the video.

Mateo and Diaz say they stand by Comedy Girls, but they're not worried about ticking off Michaels — or scoring their own gig on "SNL."

After all, Mateo and Diaz auditioned at a showcase for Michaels at IO, which included current cast member Vanessa Bayer. "We weren't his flava,” Mateo said, laughing.

"And if all that happens from this is a few Latinas get hired on 'SNL.' … OMG. Shoot me in the face. 'SNL' is a start to the conversation, not the end of it,” Diaz said. "We're talking about a larger opportunity for Latinas in general. We don't need 'SNL' to open a door.”

The ladies of "Dominzuelan” say they're already "stalking” top Latino stars who are already hard at work on TV shows and expanding cable networks.

"We're saying, ‘Hey, J-Lo. We see that you're programming an entire network, can our people call your people?" Mateo said. "I know your block, girl."

"And John Leguizamo, we're on him like white on rice, all up in his face trying to get his attention,” Diaz said. "We're writing, producing and performing. Give us a chance, and we will be our own Lorne Michaels."

They're already hard at work producing their own sitcom pilot that they plan to pitch this summer to one of several emerging American Latino cable networks.

"And on our show," Diaz said. "These Latinas will do whatever the ---- we want.”

On Sunday, "Dominizuelan" will perform with Gwen La Roka at Joe's on Weed Street.