Rosie Perez has been named a new co-host of The View, joining Republican political analyst Nicolle Wallace, Whoopi Goldberg, and Rosie O’Donnell for the upcoming new season beginning Sept. 15.
The Latina actress-dancer-director-choreographer (say that five times fast) is perfect for ABC’s daytime talk show. Here are seven reasons why.
1. She’s not a stereotypical or “cookie-cutter” Latina.
The native New Yorker defies common Latin stereotypes— the sort of which is commonly perpetuated on television. (You know: young and sexy with big boobs and bigger hair, with little talent to speak of.) Now, it’s no secret that The View producers have scouted for a Latina host for months—rumored potential additions included Lauren Sanchez of FOX’s KTTV, former district attorney Sunny Hostin and Fusion’s Alicia Menendez—but with the addition of Perez, ABC execs have landed a personality that will introduce mainstream America to a Latina who has long refused to play or subject herself to stereotypes at the risk of hurting her career.
In fact, Perez has very different notions regarding so-called success. “Own it. Just take it and say yes I will be great, I am going to be great. Great doesn’t mean being a movie star, great doesn’t mean having millions of dollars,” she told me in an interview last year. “Great means being able to be confident, strong, and a solid human being that has dignity and integrity. That is great.”
2. She represents a number of diverse perspectives.
The daughter of Puerto Rican immigrants, Perez grew up in Brooklyn. But city life was anything but idyllic, as she detailed in her 2014 memoir, Handbook for an Unpredictable Life: How I Survived Sister Renata and My Crazy Mother, and Still Came Out Smiling (With Great Hair). She was abused by her mentally ill mother (who later died of AIDS-related complications), was sexually assaulted twice by her half-brother, and she spent part of her youth in a group home, where she experienced emotional cruelty.
Perez has also long been a staunch advocate for Latino culture and pride, but is also fluent in hip-hop and black culture, thanks to her early start as a choreographer for the Fly Girls on “In Living Color” (for which she earned three Emmy nominations). She’s also choreographed for musicians including LL Cool J, Bobbi Brown and Diana Ross. And don’t forget: this is the chick that Spike Lee cast in Do The Right Thing.
As the very first Latina host on The View, Perez appeals to a Hispanic viewership (an important demographic which, if they tune in, could reverse the decline in ratings for the talk show), but she can also identify with and represent people across all perspectives, income levels and industries because she’s been there, done that—unlike some of the polarizing panel co-hosts in the past. Did we mention she’s also married to white contemporary artist and graphic designer Eric Haze?
3. She’s already famous.
Perez doesn’t need The View to make her famous—she’s already a well-established star, with numerous acting credits on TV (Nurse Jackie, An American Education, Frasier) and films like The Counselor, Pineapple Express, White Men Can’t Jump and Fearless, for which she earned Oscar and Golden Globe nominations. A three-time Emmy-nominated choreographer, she directed the 2006 documentary about U.S.-Puerto Rico history Yo soy Boriqua, pa’que tu lo sepas! and released a memoir earlier this year. This fall, Perez will even helm the Larry David’s Fish in the Dark play on Broadway.
As a successful entertainer with a sizeable fan base, including a hefty number of Latinos—who represent the nation’s fastest growing demographic and an important audience for broadcast television—Perez follows the tradition of some of the show’s most successful hosts, including Goldberg, O’Donnell and Meredith Viera. All of which means she won’t be turning up the antics in order to take home a paycheck.
4. She’s bold—and knowledgeable.
A seasoned media pro, Perez isn’t afraid of answering hard-hitting questions—or asking them.
Add to that the fact that’s she’s been an entertainer for her entire life, and that’s fuel for fantastic interviews with the show’s many celebrity guests. With an in-depth knowledge of music, dance, acting, directing, films, books, Broadway and more, Perez knows the industry as well as or better than the many of her potential guests will—which will equip her to ask insightful questions (and call their BS when she sees it).
5. She’s older.
Perez isn’t The Next Big Thing. At 50, she’s lived: lifted herself beyond her means, made mistakes and achieved great success across nearly every art form. And that very life experience— in all its troubled, successful, sad and spirited moments—is what makes her so valuable on The View. (Let’s not forget what happened to original co-host Debbie Matenopoulos, joined the show at 22 and was highly criticized for her youthful and often naïve perspective.) Younger viewers can aspire to be like the Academy Award-nominated actress and older viewers will understand her, giving her maximum appeal across the viewership ABC hopes to attract with its revamped co-host lineup.
6. She’s fun.
The Brooklyn-based actress is unabashedly fun and funny; ask anyone who’s interviewed her, worked with her or spent time with her. She loves Beyoncé, chowing down good food (Puerto Rican cuisine is still a favorite) and has been known to tell a dirty joke or two.
The View has always relied on comedians to add dimension to the panel—think former hosts Sherri Shepherd, Jennie McCarthy, Joy Behar and current co-host Whoopi Goldberg. But now in its 18th season, the format will benefit from an off-the-cuff comedic presence to play off Goldberg and returning co-host Rosie O’Donnell. Seriously sassy and unafraid to poke fun of herself and others, Perez is the type to knock back shots in addition to sharing a spirited take on the day’s serious topics—all of which might parlay into a longer shelf life than fellow funny girl McCarthy’s single season.
7. She’s caring.
Perez is feisty, bold and unafraid—and she’s also a long time activist and philanthropist, espousing charitable causes from immigration reform, women’s rights, educational reform, arts awareness and AIDS education. (She’s also appeared in national charitable campaigns including “V-Day: Until the Violence Stops” and has her own non-profit called the Urban Arts Partnership.) All of which means she’ll have a passionate, potentially polarizing perspective on a number of topics to be featured on the daytime talk show. And with strong opinions comes feisty debate—a factor that has always helped catapult ratings for The View.