Chicago PD

January 2017: Booked a co-star role on Chicago PD's 100th episode. My agent in KC submitted my headshot to the casting director, and they wanted to see me. My on-camera class from last year effectively prepared me to audition for roles like this, and to be honest, I nailed it.

Patrol Officer Joey Mendez scanning the horizon for whatever patrol officers scan the horizon for.

Here's me making an acting face opposite Jason Beghe. If you don't know who he is, he's been in every TV show ever and plays the cop with the baddest ass on Chicago PD. He was also the voice of the jogger on BoJack Horseman, which is only important because I love BoJack Horseman.

Not trying to Chicago my own PD here, but in between cigarettes and telling me "you have to hit your mark, bud," he told me I was a good actor.

I know, Jason. I know.

Hope he picked up a few pointers.

My little trailer. They gave me hand and foot warmers, and that cop costume was not goofing around—quality clothing for real.

I played Patrol Officer Joey Mendez, which is weird because I'm very white. My friends give me good-natured crap about it all the time.

It raises questions about representation. The writer named this character "Mendez." In the real world, I could easily be a Mendez. I could be adopted, or... adopted, I guess. Do you think the writer was trying to participate in casting a little bit? "Hey, make this cop latinx," they said, typing a common latinx name above his two lines of dialogue, but not specifying an ethnicity in the character description. Other than the name, the ethnicity of the character is immaterial: the story would work with any gender or ethnicity. 

I wasn't in a position to turn down the role on principle. If the character had an intense monologue about growing up in Guadalajara, I absolutely would have turned it down. But I've since wondered if I should have asked them to change the name of the character—a request which would have only spared me the good-natured ribbing of my friends, not advanced representation in any way. But when I was offered the role, I honestly didn't think of it. My career was front and center and I just said "yes, I will do it."

I'm curious about your thoughts on this one, so I've enabled comments on this post. Does it bother you that a white actor was cast in this role? What would you do if you were in a similar situation?