Ana Ortiz on Devious Maids Playing Into a Latina Stereotype: “I Had the Same Reaction”

Ana Ortiz says when she first heard about the premise of Devious Maids, she, too, "had the same reaction" as those who feel it played into Latina stereotypes. Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic

Here's the dirt on Lifetime's new show, Devious Maids: The soapy drama, executive-produced by Eva Longoria, about five Latina housekeepers working for the pampered and rich in Beverly Hills, is at the center of a dust-up between critics who accuse the show of perpetuating negative stereotypes  and those involved with the show who say it's merely an accurate reflection of Latinas in America.

Speaking to Us Weeky at the Devious Maids premiere party at the Bel Air Bay Club in L.A. on June 17, Ana Ortiz, one of the show's stars, admits she, too, was at first turned off the by the premise. "To be honest, I had the same reaction," the actress says. "When I first saw the script, I was like, 'Really?' "

After studying it, though, and meeting with the show's creator Marc Cherry (also the mastermind behind the hugely successful Desperate Housewives), Ortiz changed her mind. "I reject the notion that if a woman, a person, a human is a maid, that they don't deserve to have their story told. I just don't accept that you have to be a doctor or a lawyer to be a hero," she argues.

Another impetus to sign on: Ortiz's grandmother was herself a maid! "She is an inspiration," Ortiz says. "There's a responsibility we have to bring these characters to life truthfully and honestly. They're funny and sexy and tragic and all of that, and listen, my grandmother was ALL of that! And she worked her butt off, and she raised a family. She kept it all together, she put my father through college, she put my father through Columbia Law school, and what's a success? Is that not a success?"

Executive producer Longoria, who, incidentally, received her master's degree in Chicano studies from Cal State Northridge in May, recently wrote an op-ed for The Huffington Post in defense of the show. "I take pride in the fact that this is the first show to feature an all-Latina lead cast. I take pride in the fact that these characters are not one-dimensional or limited to their job title," she wrote.

Devious Maids premieres on Lifetime on June 23. Tell Us: Will you tune in?

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