The Careers of Two Ritas: Latinas, Hollywood, and the Dilemmas of Anglicization

Thumbnail Image

Publication or External Link





This project is focused on the career of two Latina actresses, Rita Hayworth and Rita Moreno, and how their roles and success in film were contingent upon their race and identity. What this work will explore is how Hayworth’s transformation from “Latina” to “Anglo” and Moreno’s refusal to conform to the whitening of her image tells us about American cinematic expectations during this time period and how they shaped overlapping ideas about race, gender, and sexuality. I used film analyses of Gilda (1946) and West Side Story (1961), combined with American Studies theories of racial formation, tropicalizations, and Latino labeling in the U.S., to explain how a Latina’s success in film was intimately linked to the whiteness of her image in Hollywood. My original contribution is to frame the project in this comparative way and introduce the concept of Anglicization and how it has a positive influence on the success of a Latina actress. In regard to cinema, there is a pronounced lack of diversity in central roles, and it suggests that in order to achieve greater success, one needs to embody a whiter identity.


Senior capstone project for AMST 450.