*“Fox’s” freshman series “Gang Related” just might have the most diverse cast on network television.
The drama follows Det. Ryan Lopez (Ramon Rodriguez), a member of LAPD’s elite gang task force who has ties to a major gang on the unit’s radar. His partner Cassius Green, played by Rza, is a veteran member of the task force with no clue that his partner is working both sides.
With Latinos and African Americans represented in the lead roles – and Korean American actor Sung Kang as FBI agent Tae Kim and Israeli-born Inbar Lavi as ICE agent Vee Dotson – the law enforcement element of the series is at least reflective of Los Angeles’ true cultural makeup.
It’s an authenticity that begins in the writers room, says executive producer Scott Rosenbaum.
“We have three African American writers. We have three Latino writers. We had a freelance that was done by a Latino writer, and then, there’s myself and Chris,” Rosenbaum said, referring to co-executive producer Chris Morgan.
“It was something that we were very, very cognizant of in the beginning because we knew we would be writing for such a diverse cast,” Rosenbaum continued. “We wanted the actors to when they read the pages, to not feel like they were just being written by someone who didn’t have any sense or understanding of the world.”
All that being said…
The show does have one Latino character who is not played by a Latino actor.
Cliff Curtis, a New Zealand actor of Māori descent, plays Javier Acosta, head of the Acosta crime family. The decision to cast him, said Rosenbaum, came down to his raw talent.
“We did look at a lot of Latino actors. We ended up casting some of those actors on different roles, but ultimately knowing that Javier Acosta next to Ramon is the anchor of his family, and Ramon is such a special actor…we needed a force of nature to play that role, and he was, in our humble opinion, the one person we felt would be the best, and so that’s why he was cast,” said Rosenbaum. “But we did try as you can see from the cast, we definitely tried to be as diverse as we absolutely possibly could.”
Below, Curtis says if he only auditioned to play characters of Maori descent, he’d never get a job.
“Gang Related” airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. on Fox. Watch a preview of the next episode below: