It doesn't take an Oscars controversy to point out the fact that diversity in Hollywood is a hot-button topic. Over the past few years, networks have slowly but surely become more inclusive of stars from all backgrounds. And if anyone understands this progression, it's Bianca Espada.
Growing up, the Latina reality star claims that her only reality television role models didn't look like her, "When I was growing up, E!'s "The Girls Next Door" were the prettiest girls...I had no connection to them." But as the years went on, the network became increasingly more open, and now Espada finds herself part of one of the most culturally diverse casts on their reality television show roster: "Rich Kids of Beverly Hills."
Espada, who stars in the series alongside Dorothy Wang and EJ Johnson, is the first Latina cast member on "Rich Kids" and she hopes that her unique heritage will not only resonate with millions of viewers who share the same background, but also showcase how her roots help shape her life both on and off-screen.
We recently spoke to the newest "Rich Kids of Beverly Hills" newcomer about what it's like being a Latina in Hollywood. Ahead, find out who was her role model growing up, how she views diversity in "Rich Kids" and more!
And if you want even more Bianca Espada news, head over to AOL.com at 6 p.m. ET to see more exclusive features, including how she developed her lifestyle blog.
How do you feel about being a Latina on a popular reality show?
I think it's really exciting. My mom is Mexican and I'm super close with her. So I think it's important for viewers to see that if you come from an ethnic background, your relationship with your family is completely different. I think you're much closer with your family and parents. Family is super important and being close to your parents is natural, as opposed to some other people on the show where it might not come so naturally. I think that being raised in a bilingual household was so beneficial to me. I speak Spanish everyday and use it in my everyday life. There's so many viewers who come from multicultural backgrounds and not everyone on TV is white. So I think it's so good for the rest of the world to see.
"Rich Kids" has really become a highly diverse cast.
It's funny to say. We are privileged -- we are. But to see us all come from different backgrounds -- Dorothy is Chinese, EJ is African American, I'm Mexican -- we're just like everyone else. I think that's so different that have ever been on TV being that we're so dynamic. I think it's such a major topic in politics right now and everything that's going on in the world. From our presidential race to all over the world, race has become a big issue. And I think that by representing different races on TV in a good light, like Rich Kids, is great for role models.
Who were the role models on TV you looked up to as a kid?
When I was growing up, E!'s "The Girls Next Door" were the prettiest girls. Growing up in LA that was what we had to look up to. And I didn't look like any of those girls. I had no connection to them. The whole playmate thing wasn't for me. Until Kim Kardashian came along, we had no one that looked like us on TV. I'm not saying that Kim Kardashian is my role model, but I think she paved the way for girls who were curvy and brunettes. But I think that that growing up Salma Hayek was a big influence. She is beautiful, accomplished, and brilliant. And my mom -- she played a major role in my life.
YouShouldKnow is a feature that showcases up-and-coming social stars. To see more of past interviews, click here. And come back at 6 pm EST for more exclusives on Bianca Espada, including the development of her lifestyle blog.
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Bianca Espada on being a Latina in Hollywood
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