Latino Is Brown

"For Europeans, South America is a mustached man with a guitar and a gun."
Gabriel García Márquez

There exists a stereotypical perception in North American media that all of Latin America is composed of a single race of olive-skinned, raven-haired people of mixed European and Indigenous descent. In real life, this is a specific background ("Mestizo"), and Latin America comprises a variety of ancestries and ethnic groups, making the region one of the most diverse in the world.

The region is populated by a mix of the indigenous population who survived colonization, descendants of Spanish/Portuguese colonists and African slaves, and numerous immigrant populations who moved to the continent in the last two centuries from all over Europe and Asia. With fewer taboos against interracial relations, Latin America comprises various kinds of multiracial people alongside Whites, Blacks, Natives, and Asians, with the specific mixture varying from country to country. For instance, 80% of Dominicans have African ancestry compared to only 1% of Mexicans, and the largest Japanese population in the world outside Japan itself is in Brazil.

The "Latin=brown" stereotype is most prominent in the United States and Canada, since brown-skinned Latinos are the ones North Americans are most likely to knowingly encounter. In Latin America, the white populations are generally wealthier and less likely to emigrate for economic opportunities, and many that did would change their names to something more English-sounding to avoid discrimination. As a result, North Americans came to associate the Latin identity with darker features.

In the US, Latino actors who don't "look" the part tend to get the worst of both worlds. Having a Spanish or Portuguese surname often causes them to lose gigs, and roles specifically calling for Latinos tend to prefer Mestizo features. This is averted in media south of the border for obvious reasons. Telenovelas actually have the opposite problem, as many have come under fire for only casting light-skinned or white actors for leads and giving only servant roles to those with darker skin.

This misperception can also apply to other Ambiguously Brown peoples. People from India, for example, are often assumed to be of a single race, when in fact the Indian subcontinent is home to at least three races and nearly three dozen ethnicities, some of whom are little to nothing like each other. One need only compare politicians Bobby Jindal and Nikki Haley (although, ironically, both are Punjabi). This doesn't even include people of mixed European and Indian heritage, such as British-American actress Nicolette Sheridan (one-eighth Punjabi). The people of the Middle East are also often described as "brown", but that region is home to people of various stocks, including homelands as far-flung as North Africa and East Asia.

Related to Phenotype Stereotype and Facial Profiling (where people from a country are always depicted with coloring associated with that country), Spexico (where Hispanic Europeans are conflated with Latin Americans), Latin Land (especially when the trope portrays all Hispanic American countries as an uniform mass), The Capital of Brazil Is Buenos Aires (when Latin Land extends into Portuguese-speaking Brazil). Compare with Interchangeable Asian Cultures. Since Cultural Blending is often involved, Not Even Bothering with the Accent is very much expected in scenes featuring Gratuitous Spanish.


Examples

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Saint Seiya:
    • Averted by Musca Dio, who despite being from Mexico is very pale and has red (almost bordering on maroon) hair.
    • Also Averted with Anime!Albiore, who while is quite ambiguous in the manga due to lack of colore illustration , in the anime he's a handsome, blue eyed Argentinian.
    • And Eo of scylla who is also Latin-american with reddish-pinkish hair and fair skin.
    • Adding to the list is Gold Saint Taurus Aldebaran who is from Brazil. The anime plays the trope straight but in the original manga he's blonde blue-eyed.
  • Averted with Pedro from A Silent Voice, who is Afro Brazillian. His daughter, Shouya's niece Maria, is half-Afro Brazillian and half-Japanese and has dark skin with curly hair.
  • Averted in Michiko & Hatchin. It takes place in a Brazil-like country. We have the blonde, pale Hatchin amongst the stereotypically Spicy Latina Michiko, and a lot of other characters from different ethnicities and backgrounds. Atsuko, another major character, is Afro Latina (with a blonde afro), as is a supporting character named Rita.
  • Lara Gonzalez from School Rumble is Mexican and has black hair, dark eyes, and dark skin.
  • Played straight and subverted in Tiger & Bunny. Hero Antonio Lopez has darker skin and dark brown hair (though his eyes are dark green.) Villain Jake Martinez on the other hand, has light skin, blue eyes and golden brown hair. The only Latino stereotype he seems to adhere to is being Catholic, though it's only hinted at and he's obviously not very devout.
  • Mana Tatsumiya from Mahou Sensei Negima! is half-Puerto Rican with dark skin and straight black hair. The fact that she's also half demon, though it's not specified which half may or may not be relevant.
  • Trowa Barton from Mobile Suit Gundam Wing is thought to be Latino, but averts this trope.
  • Averted with Jose Rodriguez from Kyou Kara Maou, who is a black Latino.
  • Played straight with Chad from Bleach, who is Mexican.
  • Played straight and averted with two different characters in El Cazador de la Bruja. Played straight with the raven haired, brown-eyed, tan olive skinned Margarita- yet averted with her husband Antonio, who has blond hair, blue eyes, and very fair skin.

    Comic Books 
  • In America Chavez's solo series, America, a large portion of the cast consists of Latinas, and America's backstory shows her going through various places in Central and South America. Every one of these people are brown-skinned.
  • Sunspot from the X-Men and The Avengers is Afro-Brazilian on his father's side (his mother is a white redhead), and in fact his very first appearance had him being victimized by a fellow Brazilian who mocked his black skin and facial features. His more recent appearances have come under fire for portraying him as olive-skinned, such as X-Men: Days of Future Past where he's played by light-skinned Mexican Adan Canto, and his subsequent comic book portrayals have followed suit.
  • Angel Salvadore is another X-Men-related aversion, as she is a Black Hispanic. And unlike Sunspot mentioned above, she has been consistently black in her portrayals.
  • Notably averted with Beatriz Dacosta, Fire from the Justice League International, who is Brazilian and white.
  • Averted with Ginger Lopez from Archie Comics and Afterlife with Archie. She's latina and white. In fact, she was created to replace Cheryl in rerun issues, as Cheryl was deemed too sexy and controversial, but eventually Cheryl was brought back and Ginger became her own normal character.
  • Averted with Guero in All-New Ghost Rider, who has fair skin, blond hair, and freckles.
  • Somewhat averted with Sam Alexander in Nova due to being lighter skinned than his Latino mother and having blue eyes. However, it has most likely to do with inheriting from his Caucasian father.
  • This is averted with La Borinquena. She's an Afro-Puerto Rican intentionally modeled after women that the (light-skinned Puerto Rican) creator grew up around.

    Fan Works 

    Films - Animation 
  • Averted in Big Hero 6 with Honey Lemon, who is Latina by Word of God. She's also a light skinned blonde (whose in-film model leans towards a lightly Dark-Skinned Blonde). She's voiced by Hispanic actress Genesis Rodriguez, who also made sure to have Honey pronounce some words to imply her Latin heritage - for example, pronouncing 'Hiro' by rolling the r. Various prototypical designs were dark skinned and raven haired but the artists opted otherwise, most likely to differentiate her from Brainy Brunette GoGo.
  • Atlantis: The Lost Empire's resident Spicy Latina Audrey Ramirez is black haired and has light brown skin.
  • The Emperor's New Groove manages to present an Incan cast of characters with varying skin tones, some darker or lighter than others. Considering the pre-colonial setting, Yzma's gray-tinted skin can probably be considered improbably light.

    Films - Live Action 
  • Aversion in Airborne, where Jack Black plays a character with the very Latin name of Jose Augusto Rafael de la Parra.
  • In Collateral Damage, Gordon Brewer (Arnold Schwarzenegger) looks to avenge his son's and wife's deaths at the hands of a guerrilla commando, by traveling to Choco, Colombia. Choco in real life is almost completely inhabited by black people. However, not a single black person appears in the film.
  • Logan defies this trope. The mutant Child Soldiers have Mexican mothers of unknown ethnicities and bear DNA from mutants that lived all over the world. Their skin tones range everywhere between pale and dark.
  • In Lord of War, a fair-skinned Colombian drug lord pays with six kilos of cocaine instead of cash. He and Yuri also use a lot of Mexican slang for no apparent reason.
  • In Machete, a kid without Latino heritage has grown up in a Mexican-American neighborhood and become completely integrated there in spite of lacking any shared ethnic background with the community. The give-away is that he is a red-head, which causes people to question his presence. In reality, red-headed Mexicans do exist,note  so the kid could have deep ties to Mexico for all anyone knew. The kid is played by Daryl Sabara, who also starred as the latino Juni Cortez in Robert Rodriguez's Spy Kids franchise.
  • Machete Kills:
    • Charlie Sheen, credited with his overtly Latino birth name "Carlos Estevez," plays President Rathcock, who is not Latino.
    • Amber Heard plays Blanca Vasquez, a blonde-haired, green-eyed and light-skinned secret agent who claims to be Mexican-American and whose name means "white." She turns out to be a double agent, so maybe she wasn't really latina after all.
  • Ramon Estevez adopted the stage name Martin Sheen in order to get more roles. Studios were unwilling to hire someone with the name "Estevez" as a leading man, but being of Galician and Irish ancestry he was too pale to play stereotypical Latino characters. Fortunately, acting had become a more flexible career by the time his younger son, Emilio Estevez, started his own career (although his older son Carlos mostly goes by his other name—see above)
  • Olga Kurylenko (Ukrainian) used Brown Face to play Bolivian agent Camille Montes in Quantum of Solace. The casting choice was handwaved as her mother being a Russian ballet dancer. They could have just made her a Bolivian of Ukrainian descent, which is not impossible: a number of eastern Europeans, mostly Jews, emigrated to Bolivia in the early 20th century, although never near the numbers of neighboring Chile, Argentina and Brazil.
  • In The Incredible Hulk, there's a scene where General Ross finds out that Bruce Banner is working at a soda factory in Rio de Janeiro, and advises his subordinates to be on the lookout for a white man employed there. According to census data, white Brazilians make up about 51 percent of the city's population in real life.
  • While still blonde, Elsa Pataky (Spanish actress of Romanian-Hungarian descent on her mother's side) is more tanned and has her hair darker than usual in her first Hollywood role, the passenger Maria in Snakes on a Plane. This is completely avoided in her later role as Brazilian police officer Elena Neves in the The Fast and the Furious franchise.
  • People raised a considerable stink over Ben Affleck casting himself in Argo as Tony Mendez, who has Mexican, Italian, French and Irish ancestry. Although Affleck darkened his hair to match Mendez's, people still accused him of not looking Latino enough.
  • Subverted in Moon over Parador, where the small nation's history of being dominated by various foreign powers has led to a dictator named Alphonse Simms and his secret police chief Roberto Strausman (Raul Julia in pale makeup and a blonde wig). Truth in Television for many Latin American countries.
  • Spaniard Vega (Balrog in Japan) is always noticeably more dark haired and dark skinned in the American live-action films of Street Fighter than in the Japanese animation films and video games.
  • Notably averted with minor character Nerf in A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints. He mentions having a Dominican father but he is fair-skinned and red haired. Laurie meanwhile is said to be of Puerto Rican descent, but is actually played by two actresses with that background.
  • Explicitly averted in Moonlight with Juan, a black Cuban played by Mahershala Ali. There's even a scene where he acknowledges this perception by saying Americans often don't think Latinos can be black.
  • As mentioned in the Comic Books section, the Marvel superhero Sunspot is Afro-Brazilian. Despite this, his two film appearances (X-Men: Days of Future Past and New Mutants) have had him played by non-black actors who fit the more typical view Americans have of what a "Latino" looks like.
  • Averted in Starship Troopers, in which Rico is lily-white despite being from Argentina. Contrary to what many reviewers have questioned, this is actually quite accurate, as most Argentines are descended from European settlers and look much more "white" than other Latinos.

    Literature 
  • If on a winter's night a traveler by Italo Calvino includes a short story about a population in Latin America where the indigenous people and the European people all look the same. This is implied to be a product of inbreeding.
  • Averted in Jonathan Kellerman's Alex Delaware novel When The Bow Breaks, where one of the murder victims and her brothers are described as looking Hispanic while also having naturally blond hair, and Alex speculates that they probably had a Nordic ancestor somewhere in their family tree. Their mother and a friend of the family look much more stereotypically Mexican.
  • Joseph Wambaugh provides two different in-universe examples:
    • In The New Centurions, beat cop Sergio Duran is Latino but not brown. He is Mexican, but he is tall and fair skinned, he speaks English without an accent because he was educated in America, and his surname doesn't end in -ez, so people assume that he is a white American. Eventually he gives up correcting people.
    • Detective Mario Villalobos, from another novel, is brown but not Latino. He is an American with mostly Italian ancestry, but because of his name and his dark complexion, people assume that he is Mexican and can speak fluent Spanish. He isn't, and he can't. He names his sons Erik and Kyle.
  • In Ruled Britannia, Harry Turtledove introduces Isabella Clara Eugenia of Spain as "swarthy even for a Spaniard - to English eyes, she seemed not far from a Moor. The enormous, snowy-white ruff she wore only accented her dark skin." The real Isabella had red hair and green(ish) eyes, and if their couple portraits are anything to go by, she was paler than her husband, Albert of Austria. Perhaps we are supposed to take "to English eyes" as "compared to the cadaveric-looking Elizabeth I."
  • Queen Marisol from the Frozen licensed books is is something of a Palette Swap of Elsa. She has black hair and brown skin instead of platinum blonde hair and pale skin. What her country is inspired by is never mentioned. Her name is of Spanish origin but others have Arabic names.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Scrubs, Carla is worried because Turk is placing too much emphasis on her daughter's “African heritage” and very little on her Dominican heritage. This really doesn’t make much sense since the Dominican Republic's population is mostly composed of descendants of African slaves, and Carla should have a lot of African heritage herself. This could be a case of Reality Is Unrealistic however. Black Dominicans in particular have historically downplayed their African ancestry, calling themselves trigueños (mestizos) or even "Indians".note  In the Musical Episode, Turk had a Running Gag of confusing Carla's nationality for numerous other Latino ones, including Puerto Rican, who usually have a much lighter skin tone than a Dominican.
  • In the 2012 revival of Dallas, both the young female leads are played by Latin American actresses. The dark-skinned, dark-haired, dark-eyed Jordana Brewster (Brazilian American) plays a Mexican character, while the lighter-skinned, brunette, green-eyed Julie Gonzalo (Argentinian) plays an Anglo character.
  • Modern Family: Averted with Gloria, but played straight with Manny and his father. Even with Gloria, the actress had to dye her hair brunette for the role as she is a natural blonde.
  • Cougar Town has a big aversion with Andy Torres, who is Cuban but doesn't look or sound like one. This is lampshaded in at least one episode.
  • Subverted for the sake of a joke in Desperate Housewives. Gabrielle is stopped speeding by a cop and tries to play the race card with the (fair complexioned) officer... but realizes that the name on his uniform reads 'Martinez'. Otherwise the show played this trope totally straight.
  • Grimm: Averted. Fair-skinned, redhead Juliette is Spanish, bonus as she is fluent in the language as well. Probably 1/4 Spanish, as she mentions that her grandmother was Spanish, but doesn't say anything about the rest of her family. For reference, the actress is 1/2 Spanish and 1/2 Scottish.
  • George H.W. Bush once referred to some of his grandchildren (the children of Jeb, his second son and former Governor of Florida, and Columba Bush; Columba is Mexican-American, and she and her children look it) as his "little brown ones." Saturday Night Live spoofed this statement by having Dana Carvey, portraying Bush, call Elian Gonzalez "the little brown one." Problem is, the Gonzalez family was from Cuba, and most Cuban-Americans (as opposed to Cubans who remained in Cuba) are of unmixed Spanish descent.
  • Averted in That '70s Show with the character "Fez", played by Wilmer Valderrama (of Colombian and Venezuelan ancestry) but who might or might not be Latin American at all. Languages spoken in his unnamed home country include Spanish, Dutch, English and an unspecified native language. In one episode he is visited by his "best friend from back home", Andrew Davis (Justin Long) who is paler, lighter haired and speaks with a British accent. Fez explains this as one being from the northern part of the country and the other from the south (without saying who). Common fan speculation is that Fez is from Guyana, Suriname, or the Dutch Antilles.
  • Averted in Law & Order: SVU. The Cuban-American ADA Rafael Barba is played by light-skinned Cuban-American actor Raúl Esparza, who has said that he rarely gets to play Latino roles because of this trope and is thrilled to finally be able to do so.
  • Also averted in an episode of Leverage, though with a twist. In North America, Italians, along with other people from the Mediterranean, have a lot of the same expectations of "brown" as Latinos. This didn't stop con woman Tara (played by blue-eyed blonde Jeri Ryan) from successfully pulling off a con as an Italian fashion designer named Caprina.
  • Played with when it comes to Wizards of Waverly Place. The Russo family are Mexican-Italian and Teresa - the Latina parent - is the darker-skinned one. However the children are all of notably different skin tones - showing how diverse Hispanics can be. Justin is pretty fair-skinned and his actor David Henrie is of Italian, French and English ancestry. Max is brown, like his mother - and Jake T Austin is Argentine, Puerto Rican, Spanish, Polish, Irish and English. Alex meanwhile is darker than Justin but fairer than Max - and Selena Gomez is Mexican-Italian like her character.
  • Averted in Once Upon a Time, to the point where creators had to confirm that Regina, like her actress, is Latina. Her father is played by an actor with darker skin than her, and she has a light-skinned mother to imply she's mixed race.
  • Averted in Breaking Bad. The members of the Mexican Cartel are mostly played by, well, Mexicans of the light-brown complexion that viewers typically think of when they think "Latino." The Chileans Gus Fring and Maximino Arciniega, on the other hand, are played by the dark-skinned, Danish-born half-African-American half-Italian Giancarlo Esposito and the very light-skinned James Martinez respectively.
  • Played With in Switched at Birth Regina, Adriana, Natalie and other Latinos in East Riverside are dark skinned. Regina's daughter, Daphne, fair skinned, red haired, green eyed, is revealed to have been Switched at Birth. Regina's biological daughter Bay, played by a white actress of Italian descent is very pale skinned (which is really unlikely given her heritage). This becomes a plot point in one episode where Daphne applies for a Latina scholarship, every other candidate there is very stereotypical of a Latino. She laments to Regina that even though they think she's Latina, no one else sees it that way.
  • The dark-skinned, black-haired Basque terrorists of Intelligence (2014), who were mockingly described as "Maghrebi Etarras" in at least one Basque newspaper.
  • Jokingly averted in Black-ish. While discussing the concept of N-Word Privileges, Charlie and Curtis mention that certain Latinos can say the word since they're black, while others obviously aren't black and thus cannot.
    Charlie: Big Pun, Fat Joe? Okay. Mark Anthony, Ricky Martin? No bueno.
  • Technically avoided in the White Collar two-parter episode "Wanted"/"Most Wanted", filmed in Puerto Rico and where all the locals are tanned Caucasians. Unfortunately, this country is supposed to be the African nation of Cape Verde, which besides being a Portuguese-speaking country instead of a Spanish-speaking one, is 78% Creole and 21% Black in Real Life.
  • The "Deal with the Devil"/"Spain" episode in National Geographic's Locked Up Abroad, supposedly depicting the imprisonment of an American rastafari in Spain for smuggling cocaine from Ecuador, was filmed entirely in Ecuador and managed to have more Native American actors in the Spain scenes than in the Ecuador ones. And yet the earlier scenes set in Trinidad and Tobago, despite being also filmed in Ecuador, are almost entirely staffed by black actors, correctly reflecting Trinidad and Tobago's mostly black and creole population. It seems less of a case of Unfortunate Implications and more of a deliberately racist decision, aiming to portray a poor white drug smuggler suffering at the hands of evil brown correction officers who are just doing their job (the worst thing said smuggler actually says about jail in Spain is that they gave him sedatives. Free of charge. When he asked them to.)

    Professional Wrestling 
  • When Dutch Mantel brought out "gifts" as "Santa Clause" at a WWC show, the crowd was immediately suspicious of him because of how pale he was. In this case their suspicions proved correct but there have been a few pale Puerto Ricans who have wrestled for them, such as Black Boy.
  • Averted by ring announcer Lilian Garcia (whose first name is even a play on her whiteness!), a Spanish-American who has blonde hair and occasionally portrays a character who has trouble speaking Spanish (such as when introducing Fandango, although she does speak the language). However, she does have tan skin and an "ethnic"-looking nose.
  • Shelly Martinez and Valentina have had several gimmicks that downplay or expunge any hints of Latina. However, Salinas (Martinez) was part of LAX in TNA - and in WWE, Martinez portrayed Ariel, a Gypsy-turned-vampire, who looked sort of Latina but of course had the vampiric pale skin. Mexican America also had the rather pale Sarita (who wasn't Latina but was only member who had residence in Mexico and was the most fluent in Spanish) and Anarquia.
  • Avoided by Kyra, who was noticeably lighter than contemporary Latinas such as Caged Heat's Loca, Ayako Hamada, Lola Gonzales, Spanish Fly and Jungle Grrrl Erica Porter but only had her Latin heritage downplayed in CRUSH where she had an Amerindian gimmick, which isn't far removed considering that's who a great deal of Chicanas owe their "brown" to. In WWE, as Melina, she started fake tanning but stopped when she started openly dating, Irish-American Johnny Nitro (who kept the fake tanning longer, as they were posing as vain, wannabe celebrities), then left her black hair undyed and wore less makeup when she broke up with Nitro and became Women's Champion (even wearing Aztec war-goddess regalia while competing at the 2010 SummerSlam in Los Angeles).
  • Chavo Guerrero used makeup to turn his skin lighter when he renounced his Mexican heritage and renamed himself Kerwin White. Spending too much time under WWE's lights or wrestling would cause him to sweat it off and turn brown again. And even as Kerwin White, his accent was still lightly Latino; he merely spoke in a "privileged", slightly effeminate voice in order to sound stereotypically white.
  • Downplayed by the fairly light skinned, blonde Sexy Juliette/Sofia Cortez, who to look "more Latina" dyed her hair brown as Ivelisse Vélez in the continental USA.
  • Brown wasn't dark enough for Mila Naniki, another blonde Puerto Rican who died her hair black.
  • Double subverted by La Familia stable of westside Xtreme wrestling (and other European Organizations), all of whom (Baca Loco, The Bull, Lazio Feé and Diego Latino) are obviously pale skinned even though they wear masks. But as it turns out, none of them are Latino.
  • Zig-zagged when it comes to WWE Divas. Latina women have made up the majority of the Divas roster in recent years - all with varying skin tones. They tend to only give a Spicy Latina gimmick to those with browner skin - Rosa Mendes for example, who is Costa Rican (but then again likes to change her hair from brown to blonde at a whim). Supermodel Natalie Nelson (who is Mexican-Italian) was given the Hispanic sounding stage name Eva Marie but then had her change her hair to rednote . Likewise Lita (who had a Mexican grandparent) was brought in as a Spicy Latina but had (dyed!)red hair and eventually morphed into a punk-rock Lad Ette. Nidia Guenard, who is Puerto Rican, initially reversed her ancestry and portrayed a Scots-Irish redneck from the Deep South alongside native West Virginian Jamie Noble (though was acknowledged as Latina after her Heel–Face Turn). Otherwise completely averted with Ivelisse (mentioned above) as she was given the Hispanic stage name Sofia Cortez and a reggaeton entrance theme - all the while WWE not letting her dye her hair from blonde to brown. Layla El is half Spanish and half Moroccan but her Spanish roots have never been addressed, sometimes being counted as a "black" Diva (even though Arabs/Berbers are not exactly African in the sense people often think, does tend to make people wonder); of course, Layla's English accent (which she is gradually losing) has her pegged as "the limey Diva" (make that the other limey Diva with respect to Paige) in many people's minds, especially when she was part of the LayCool heel faction and portrayed what could best be described as "a British Valley Girl."
  • On NXT it's played straight with Bayley (whose real last name is Martinez and is from San Jose) - who is fair-skinned and her character is presented almost as a Token White. Likewise Sasha Banks has Latina heritage but her character tends to lean more towards a black ghetto girl. Carmella meanwhile is a white girl from Boston but performs in Brownface to portray an Italian-American Joisey type.
  • (Possibly) averted by Zack Ryder, who is dark-blond and (lightly) tanned but whose real name is Matthew Cardona (although that surname could just as easily be Italian).
  • Related. NXT Diva Jasmin Areebi had light brown hair when she was signed but dyed her hair black in order to look more Arab. But she had gone back to light brown by the time she debuted as the Ambiguously Brown 'Aliyah'.
  • The Bella Twins have Mexican heritage but their portrayal in WWE leans more towards their Italian roots - presumably because they are not dark enough to appear Latina. According to the twins, they wanted to form a Spicy Latina stable with Melina but management vetoed it. This could partly be because they were raised by their mother - who is the Italian parent. One episode of Total Divas does show Nikki trying to find out more about her Mexican heritage.
  • Ring announcer and former Total Divas cast member JoJo is of Mexican and Dominican descent but is sometimes "mistaken" for a light-skinned black girl due to being darker than a stereotypical Latina, as well as wearing her hair curly(never mind most Dominicans have African Ancestry). She also sings R&B songs from time to time, and performed with the black Funkadactyls - whereas the more obviously Latina Eva Marie hooked up with the Bella Twins.

    Stand Up Comedy 

    Theatre 
  • Many theatrical productions of Helen Hunt Jackson's novel Ramona (about a Spanish rancho in Southern California in the 19th century) cast a mestiza actress in the title role in order to be politically correct (especially since unambiguously white actresses were cast in the role in the past). But this consensus ignores what the book itself describes: Ramona Ortega had blue eyes, did not know about her Luiseno Indian heritage until she was a teenager, and in fact did not have a drop of Spanish blood in her (her father was Scottish). She was raised Spanish-Mexican, but that doesn't necessarily mean she looked like one.

     Video Games 

    Web Original 
  • Todd in the Shadows once mentioned that Pitbull (full name Armando Christian Peréz), who's Cuban American, does not look Hispanic at all and just looks white. As mentioned above, most Cuban Americans in the United States are of unmixed Spanish descent and look exactly like him in terms of complexion.
  • Bonita-senpai from the final episode of Nyan~ Neko Sugar Girls has brown skin and brown hair. Possibly averted with Koneko though, as she uses a lot of Gratuitous Spanish but is a redheaded Asian.

    Western Animation 
  • Played Straight with Roberto "Bobbi" Santiago Jr and his younger sister Ronnie Anne from The Loud House with both being raven-haired and dark-skinned.
  • In Arthur, Arthur's Ecuadorian neighbors have medium-brown "skin"note .
  • In X-Men: Evolution, Magma was Race Lifted into being a dark-skinned Brazilian, rather than a white Roman who lived in a secret city in Brazil (it's complicated), like in the comics. However, someone with pale skin and blue eyes (which is how Magma looks in the comics) wouldn't be out of the ordinary in Brazil anyway, since a large portion of the country is technically white.
  • Family Guy had a lot of Hispanic characters with similar tanned skin and often black hair. The exception was a Maria Jiminez from the news station who possessed a lighter tan and dark brown hair.
  • Zigzagged in The Simpsons, where Latino characters may have realistically varying skin tones or be uniformly brown Depending on the Artist. This isn't helped by the show's white skin = yellow color scheme making the difference between light and dark skin more severe.
    • Bumblebee Man and everyone else on his Show Within a Show have brown skin and dark brown or black hair. They are apparently Mexican, which is mostly mestizo, but as noted above light-skinned Mexicans tend to be over-represented in public media. One joke contradicts all evidence by having Bumblebee Man admit that he's actually Belgian.
    • "E-I-E-I-D'oh!" begins with the family going to a movie theater to see The Poke of Zorro, a take-off on The Mask of Zorro. On the screen, the actors playing the characters based on Zorro and Elena are brown-skinned, even though their real-world portrayers (Antonio Banderas and Catherine Zeta-Jones, respectively) are both Europeans (albeit dark ones).
    • Despite the absurd inaccuracies in its portrayal of Brazil, "Blame It On Lisa" has a decent variety of skin tones (from completely brown to completely white, and some in-between tones very atypical for this show) and hair colors (the usual black-haired and dark-brunettes, but also a few red heads and blondes). There were still no black or Asian people though (blacks make up about a third of Brazilians, with Asians as a significant minority).
    • Averted in "The Kid Is All Right", which features as its guest star a young Latina friend of Lisa's who is white (Argentinian), Jewish (albeit a secular one), and a conservative Republican.
    • Dr. Nick Riviera may or may not be an aversion. He's definitely light-skinned, but so Non-Specifically Foreign that it's hard to tell if he's from Latin America, Spain, Portugal, or some other part of Europe (his character design is actually based on the Hungarian co-founder of Klasky-Csupo).
  • Averted in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012)Xever has a Spanish accent but is clearly black (or was when he was human at all.)
  • On Invader Zim, Dib, Gaz and their dad are Mexican-American despite their incredibly pale skin, according to Word of God. Jhonen Vasquez specifically compares them to "my brother and his so-white-looking Village of the Damned children."
  • The Proud Family averts this trope - Felix Boulevardez (and his father) are rather fair-skinned, whereas Lacienega and Sunset are darker skinned.
  • Sofia the First;
    • Subverted by Sofia, who is is latina by Word of God. Sofia has light brown hair, blue eyes, and pale skin. Her mother is darker skinned. Sofia being latina came with an Internet Backdraft due to this trope. Many thought she couldn't be latina and Disney was tacking on it as a last-minute thing. Later, Sofia being latina varies depending on who's asked at Disney.
    • Elena plays the trope straight. She is a character who appeared in Sofia The First before getting her own cartoon. A lot of media outlits referred to Elena as "Disney's first latina princess", completely ignoring Sofia.
  • Jem:
    • Raya is Mexican-American and her entire family has brown skin. They all have dark brown hair except for the pink haired Raya.
    • When the band visits Mexico most characters have a similar skin tone.
    • Rio Pacheco averts it, as his name implies he has latino (possibly Brazilian) heritage but he's only somewhat darker than Jerrica.
  • In The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes!, Maria Hill is given a much browner complexion than her comic-book or live-action counterparts to play up her Latino heritage, she's even given the full name of Maria Claudia Hill.
  • Marco Diaz from Star vs. the Forces of Evil is at least half Mexican and has a darker complexion than characters like Star (who is a blonde, blue eyed human-looking girl) or his crush Jackie. Marco's father is a tall, muscular brown toned fellow with big brown eyes and his mother is a Significant Green-Eyed Redhead (well, reddish-brown).
  • David (pronounced "Dah-veed") is a South Park character introduced in season nineteen. His parents own a Mexican restaurant in town and Kyle mistakes David's family as being from Mexico, when they are from Idaho. David and his family members have brown skin and dark hair and speak with a Hispanic accent.
  • Flora in Winx Club presumably because of this trope has fans arguing over whether she's a light skinned black girl or a tanned Caucasian. Word of God says she was modelled after Jennifer Lopez, so she's actually Latina. Her skin is notably lighter and more in line with this trope in the CGI animated films than it is in the hand-drawn animation in the series.
  • Averted in ˇMucha Lucha! where everyone is Latino but there are a variety of skin tones.
  • Justified in Dora the Explorer and Go, Diego, Go! as the human characters are related, so their Strong Family Resemblance makes sense. In Dora's Explorer Girls the characters are of different races but it seems to take place in the same vaguely Latin American country.
  • Played straight with Penny Sanchez from ChalkZone, who is certainly latina and implied to be of Mexican descendance.
  • In El Tigre: The Adventures of Manny Rivera, this is played straight with a good number of characters, including the entire Rivera family, but there are also numerous aversions, such as the yellow-skinned Frida.
  • Averted with Irma from Witch, who is implied to be latina but is a light-skinned redhead.
  • When Sabrina: The Animated Series became Sabrina's Secret Life they reused the character model for Chloe into a new character called Maritza - by lightening her skin and hair to make her Hispanic rather than black.
  • The Latin American Spanish dub ended up averting this trope with Sheen from The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, as they made him Japanese. Sheen is normally an aversion anyway as he isn't too different a skin-tone from the non-latino Jimmy.
  • Possibly averted in Rick and Morty with Rick Sanchez and his daughter, who are mostly light-skinned despite having a Hispanic surname.
  • Soos from Gravity Falls, though he's only a very light shade of brown.
  • Carmen from Where on Earth Is Carmen Sandiego? has dark skin, Icy Blue Eyes, and black hair. In the games her skin tone and hair color are both lighter.
  • Subverted with Dragon Tales. Max and Emmy are latino but are both light-skinned. Sixth Ranger Enrique is also latino but has a darker complexion.
  • Averted in Bojack Horseman with Todd Chavez, who's a White Latino; in his brief stint in prison, he was recriuted by both The Latin Kings and The Aryan Brotherhood.
  • Some viewers of As Told by Ginger thought Mipsy was Latina due to her fitting the trope's requirements. She even used to be down as Latina on This Very Wiki. But she makes a comment about a Bat Mizvah, implying that she's Jewish. Of course her being Jewish does not preclude her being Latina, there being hundreds of thousands of Jewish Latin@s, but how many writers know this? and even if the writers know it, do they believe the audience knows that?
  • In Total Drama, every character who is Hyspanic, such as Alejandro, Courtney and Brody from Total Drama Presents: The Ridonculous Race has tan skin. Word of God confirmed for the latter two.

    Real Life 
  • Martin Sheen mixed Spanish-Irish. He originally auditioned for gigs under his birth name Ramon Estevez. His name alone caused him to lose many roles, while his European features made him lose Hispanic roles that preferred a Mestizo appearance. He adopted his stage name purely for acting purposes even though he is still legally Ramon Estevez. It is telling that out of his four children, the one with the most successful acting career was the one who also took the "Sheen" stage name and avoided the perception of this trope altogether.
  • Aversion: Red-headed boxer Saúl "Canelo" Álvarez is Mexican through and through.
  • Singer/composer of video game music Malukah, real name Judith de los Santos is Mexican, but looks thoroughly Caucasian, as seen in this cover of Baba Yetu, the Grammy-award-winning theme song of Civilization IV.
  • Louis C.K. is also half Mexican, but he is very light-skinned and has orange hair. "C.K." is a modification of Louis's real surname, Székely.
  • Fidel Castro is of purely Spaniard ancestry (along with a majority of Cubans) and very light-skinned, lighter than most actual European Spaniards since his family is from Galicia. Yet many cartoons depicting him tint him brown.
  • Ditto with many Mexican presidents, especially the former president Vicente Fox who though darker than Castro (and much lighter than most mestizos) owing to more central/southern Spanish descent, is still mostly western European: Basque, German, and French.
    • And the "Fox" surname comes from his great-grandfather Louis Fuchs, who was German. Fox's grandfather was registered with this name because he was born in Ohio.
  • Gina Torres is Afro-Cuban, and very rarely plays Latino characters. In an interview, she even stated she usually plays African-Americans because Hollywood likes its Latinos to look like Italians (straight black hair, tan skin, etc.) rather than the diverse group they actually are. An exception was on Alias, when she played a Cuban assassin and spy.
    • Ironically, Hollywood's idea of Italians is not quite correct either Latinos since black/dark brown hair and tan/olive skin, while the dominant phenotype in the central and southern regions (i.e. south of the Rubicon), are not uniform, with blondism existing among 1/10 of Italians. Meanwhile most Northern Italians have lighter coloring, with many being among the lightest pigmented people in Europe on part of the north being rather mountainous. The perception probably comes from the fact that most Italian-Americans can trace their ancestry to the southern parts.
  • Few things show better how much this trope is off reality than Bolivia's president Evo Morales (full blooded Aymara) and his vice-president, Álvaro García (full blooded Spaniard, who nevertheless had no trouble joining an indigenist group in the 80s).
  • As noted in the Modern Family example, Colombian actress Sofia Vergara is naturally blonde. She had to dye her hair brown because of Reality Is Unrealistic in order to get parts.
  • Blue-eyed blonde Cameron Diaz is half Cuban.
  • Alexis Bledel has a Mexican mother, Argentinian father, and considers herself Latina, but is also white and typically plays white roles. When promoting The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, America Ferrera (a Honduran-American) was surprised to hear Bledel speaking Spanish (which is in fact her birth language). Bledel also showed off some of her Spanish-speaking on Gilmore Girls.
  • A lot of the racial controversy surrounding the shooting death of Trayvon Martin was complicated by news outlets fighting over what ethnicity George Zimmerman is. Zimmerman identifies himself as Hispanic, and he has a very mixed ancestry including Afro-Peruvian and German-American family.
  • Count every fictional portrayal of Catherine of Aragon. Now count how many of them depict her as pale-skinned, red-haired, and blue-eyed. The same goes for her mother, Isabella of Castile, as Catherine was among her children the one that resembled her the most.
  • Lots of East Asian Latin Americans exist. Alberto Fujimori, a former president of Peru of Japanese descent, Bruce Chen, a Chinese-Panamanian major league baseball player, Jorge Cham, another Chinese-Panamian engineer-cartoonist famous for PHD, and Franklin Chang-Diaz, a Chinese-Costa Rican-American astronaut and scientist.
    • Not only that but Brazil has the biggest Japanese diaspora of the world. In cities like São Paulo is not uncommon to see asian looking people in the streets.
  • Averted to hell and back with Argentinian actors Facundo Arana, Juan Gil Navarro and Luciano Caceres. The first two are natural blondes, with Facundo being blue eyed, and very tall, Luciano while dark haired, has blue eyes, and Juan being brown eyed, but still pretty light skinned. The majority of Argentinians are caucasian or whites, due most of them being of Spanish, Italian or German origins.
  • The blonde Shakira is far from any Latin or Arabic stereotype... while being half-Spanish and half-Arabic by ethnicity and speaking Arabic fluently. Lebanese, specifically. Similar to other Mediterranean peoples such as Greeks, Turks, Italians, Jews, Cypriots, and Spaniards, most Lebanese people have dark brown/black hair, olive/tan skin, and brown eyes, but exceptions exist and are not extremely uncommon.
  • Brazilian models Gisele Bündchennote  and Anna Hickman, Argentine models Luisana Lopilato and Valeria Mazza, Chilean models Josefina Montane and Maite Orsini, Uruguayan model Laura Prieto. All of whom look very Northern European. Of course, all these countries took in huge numbers of immigrants from Northern Europe. (And there are enough Italians, Spaniards, and Greeks with Northern European features anyways, due to the migration of Nordic barbarian tribes into those areas at the time of the fall of the Roman Empire; Spain itself was ruled by the Scandinavian-descended Visigoths for over 200 years.)
  • J. August Richards is of Afro-Panamanian descent: his birth name is Jaime Augusto Richards.
  • While Spanish socialite and journalist Isabel Preysler has dark hair and tan skin, it should be noted that she was born in the Philippines and is of Filipino and Spanish descent. The last part also applies to her children, one of whom is Enrique Iglesias.
  • Most Uruguayans, Useful Notes/{{Argentina]]s, and Cubans are white Hispanics.
  • It has been noted often in recent years that many Republican senators and governors in the U.S. are now "nonwhite", but the use of the term is pretty controversial. Bobby Jindal and Nikki Haley are held up as being of (Asian) Indian descent - true enough, but Haley is light-skinned enough to pass for European, and Indians technically are white according to traditional racial definitions, as "white/Caucasian" does not necessarily equal "light skin." Referring to Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio as nonwhite (although most people use the term indirectly on this point) is even more controversial. Cruz and Rubio are both of Cuban extraction, and a sizable majority of Cubans - and, more to the point, the majority of Cubans who fled Fidel Castro's regime for America - are of unmixed Spanish descent. Indeed, Cruz is quite pale, and Rubio, while possessing a complexion most would describe as "healthy", is still visibly pink. So if being from a foreign country in one's own hemisphere and not speaking English as a first language is enough to make one "nonwhite", then the French-speaking people of Quebec are not white (which they most certainly are)!
    • It's worse than that. By that definition Icelanders, Portuguese, Spaniards, and several Frenchmen, Welshmen, Irishmen and Scotsmen would also be counted as "nonwhite".
      • In the early days of the US, only immigrants from northern and western Europe were considered "white". This didn't even include the Irish. Later this was formalized to exclude Indian immigrants (who, despite anthropologists classifying them as "Caucasian" were viewed as "non white" by most Americans).
  • Averted in the U.S. state of California for about a century, between the admission of California to the Union and the late 1940s. Unlike, say, the Southern states, California had only piecemeal segregation, but interracial marriage was forbidden as it was in most other states. However, while whites were banned from marrying blacks and Asians, Latinos were counted as white (probably because demographers couldn't think of anywhere else to put them); and by the same token, Latinos too were banned from marrying blacks and Asians! In fact, the ban on interracial marriage in California was brought about in 1948 by a successful court case brought by a mixed black/Latino couple. Now, of course, all Latinos in California are informally counted as nonwhite; but because interracial marriage is now permitted for everyone, the point is moot.
  • Guillermo del Toro is in fact Mexican.
  • Abi-Maria Gomes from multiple seasons of Survivor is Brazilian, but is actually blonde.
  • Note the two Gomez brothers. Rick (think George Luz in Band of Brothers) is quite fair skinned, while Josh (think Morgan Grimes of Chuck) is much darker. Josh is more likely to play obvious Latino characters, while Rick often plays Ambiguously Brown or even white characters in addition to Latinos. They rarely play brothers presumably because of this - the exception being The Week.
  • James Madio sometimes finds himself playing Latinos, despite being Italian, presumably because he's dark enough to qualify.
  • Inverted by Spanish-language campaign literature that, during election years, often gets sent to white Americans who have last names that "look Hispanic"; political parties are obviously not leaving anything to chance. Italian-Americans are the ones targeted the most often - ironic, since the French are actually closer ethnically to the Spanish than Italians are, despite being viewed as northern European. It's easy to imagine some Israeli-Americans receiving these brochures as well, due to surnames like "Peres." Taken to its logical conclusion, however, this would get ridiculous, since there are some German names out there that "look Hispanic", Argentina is Nazi-Land completely notwithstanding.note 
  • Callie Hernandez is Latina but looks pretty fair.


http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/LatinoIsBrown