“Rings of Power” Star Ismael Cruz Córdova Is Shifting the Narrative

ICC: Yeah. Where’s your island?

Stitch: I’m from Saint Thomas.

ICC: Oh, you’re so close.

Stitch: I used to live in Puerto Rico when I was really small. I have family there in San Juan. And so I was just like, this is really a sense of, “oh, this is literally my people.”

ICC: Yeah. I’m your people.

Stitch: Like Arondir is my people and so that was really cool. I think that’s gonna be a similar experience for a lot of Lord of the Rings fans of color who spent years kind of going like, “I wish I could see myself. I wish that we could be elves,” and I really love that you’re changing the game.

Ismael: That’s what we’re here for and that’s the mission, and you touched upon something else which… It’s just the conversation gets so complex as well, I’m a Black person, people from the Caribbean, we’re Afro descendants, we’re Black as well, so even that conversation, people get very mad, “He’s not Black, he’s Puerto Rican!”

Stitch: Oh my God.

Ismael: Even that conversation, they don’t know what to do with it all, they just don’t. There’s so much conversation and discomfort, but it’s so good too, because then there comes people like us, there’s a lot of goodness in the fandom as well, you know? And they’re coming through and they’re charging through for us, and they’re engaging in these conversations, they’re educating the fandom, they’re highlighting how important it is, they are giving so much love. You know, it’s not only this dark shadow of people, they’re truly just the loudest.

Stitch: Yeah.

ICC ‘Cause the rest of us are just living our lives, thriving. [Chuckles.] You know, blessed and highly favored. But it’s like all of these conversations are very necessary, ’cause as you said like, our peoples, we’re here and it’s not just that we want to, it’s that we need to be included. Period. We have to be included ’cause we exist here. You know what I mean?

Stitch: Absolutely.

ICC: So that’s so cool that now like little kids are just gonna be able to play, you know, like dress up as Arondir and not have to build the bridges mentally, you know, that we had to build.

Stitch: We get to be part of the fantasy. What would you say to lifelong Lord of the Rings fans of color like myself, like people in my family who are finally able to see ourselves here?

ICC: We finally arrived. [Laughs.] I think we made this happen, you know, even though we didn’t know each other, I think we have collectively been coming at it from many many avenues, supporting each other, imagining ourselves, occupying spaces, ’cause there’s many a brave cosplayer, building that.These cosplayers are also receiving this backlash, you know, but they still dress up as their favorite anime characters, they still dress up as their favorite elves, they still dress up as whatever it is that their inner child wants to express that they know that they should be part of. I have met them. I met them at Comic-Con. I have felt and seen and heard firsthand how emotional this is for all of us and it is healing for all of us as well, you know?

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