Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Though he is Cuban-born and grew up in a Spanish-speaking household, "I wouldn't define myself as a Hispanic or Latino artist," he said. "I'm an American artist." As an artist, his ethnicity is "kind of second- or third-tier information; I've never wanted to be associated with this kind of typecasting. It closes you down in a lot of important ways, to be cast in an ethnic type. If you don't want to be in it, you fall into it by default, and that's kind of disturbing."
"The funny thing is, culturally I'm incredibly Latin," he added. "I'm totally fluent in Spanish. But I think that's American. That's the thing about this country -- that you get people like me over and over again."
Pardo's family immigrated when he was 6. He grew up in a working-class home in Chicago, fueled in part, he jokes, by the life-sustaining, adrenaline-jolting elixir known as Cuban coffee. "Cubans give café con leche to kids when they're, like, 4," he said. Still, "I don't necessarily believe that because I come from a certain place that I'm expected to represent it," he said. "I'm from Cuba. I have a strange relationship with the American dream."