Podcast Review: NPR-Hispanic Heritage Month

For Hispanic Heritage Month, NPR created a Hispanic Heritage Month series. In this series, there are podcasts and articles created by NRP that celebrate Hispanic communities. There are podcast episodes about Latinx actors in Hollywood as well as Hispanics having to identify themselves as “some other race” in the 2020 census. Each of these episodes are educational and cover topics that are not typically talked about in mainstream media. Listeners will be enlightened by the facts that are told. This podcast series is a great companion to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month. 

The latest episode is about the making of the Spanish version of Dracula, the original classic being the one created in 1931 starring Bela Lugosi. The Spanish version was made with different actors and crew members. The set was shared between the two films, which forced the actors and crew members of the Spanish Dracula to work after the filming for the English Dracula was done for the day. This group worked a graveyard shift for the duration of the filming of the movie.

The lead actors were Carlos Villarías (Dracula) and Lupe Tovar (Eva). In the episode, you learn about their journeys from their native countries to working in Hollywood. Tovar’s son, Pancho Kohner, describes how his mother came from Oaxaca and how acting in Dracula enabled her to stay in the United States. Despite working at night and with a low budget, producer Ben Odell believes the Spanish version of Dracula is better. Listeners will be fascinated when hearing about the creation of Spanish Dracula and the stories of Villarías and Tovar.

In a different episode, the hosts talk about the general history of Latin actors in Hollywood. When Latin actors were first featured in Hollywood movies, they often were forced to play bandidos. Women actors were put into stereotypical Latina roles where the characters were fast-talking and hot tempered. Rita Moreno talks about how Latin actors in West Side Story had to put on dark make-up and forced to speak in a heavy Spanish accent. In the episode, the hosts describe John Leguizamo’s Instagram post where he talks about how white actors have been cast as Latinos in movies. This was in reference to James Franco recently being selected to play Che Guevara in an upcoming movie. These are just some of the important issues that are raised in this episode that will hopefully be addressed in Hollywood.

There is an episode about problems Hispanics had filling out the 2020 census. Those interviewed for this podcast talk about how they selected “some other race” on the census because they did not fit the race categories that were provided. Being forced to select this category has caused them to feel under represented. This is a problem that needs to be corrected for the 2030 census as the Latin population continues to grow. There is an estimated fifty million Latinos in the U.S. (1 in 7 people). It is outrageous that the makers of the 2020 census left out categories for Hispanics when they make up a significant population in this country. 

NPR Hispanic Heritage Month does an excellent job of providing both entertainment and insightful reporting in their podcast. There is news that flew below under the radar that is talked about in this podcast. With the podcast episodes, there are articles that accompany them in case you missed something while listening to it. This is a series that listeners will learn a lot from. This is why I recommend it as a way of celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month.  

NPR Hispanic Heritage Month can be read and listened to on the NPR website.

Michael Walsh

Adult Services-Will Branch