‘I Want to Be the Most Honest Ally for My Community’

James Rodriguez was a freshman at New York University when the then-aspiring actor first learned that his Mexican-American heritage was going to be a problem for Hollywood.

He had just nailed an audition for a big feature film, but the casting director was put off by the fact that his Caucasian-like skin tone was out of sync with his last name. So he was offered the chance to read for the role of a gang member, only to be told that he wasn’t right for that, either.

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“I didn’t look Latino enough,” he recalls. “They basically didn’t know what to do with me.”

The movie was Primal Fear. The lead role in question launched Ed Norton’s career.

Three years later, on the eve of his college graduation, Rodriguez nailed another big audition for a series-regular role in a buzzy, DreamWorks-produced TV pilot. But the issue of

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