EFEMexico City

Light-skinned actors get the vast majority of roles in television commercials in Mexico, laying bare the racism that persists in this majority mestizo nation.

"Commercials for consumer products require an aspirational profile, and that is white with light eyes, medium height and between 25 and 45 years old. The international Latino type," actor Rodrigo Franco, president of the National Interpreters Association, told EFE.

The 51-year-old Franco, who is 1.56 meters (5-foot-1) in height and has "typical Mexican" features, said he had faced repeated discrimination in the advertising and acting worlds.

He said that unfair treatment had included being asked by a director to furnish an acting degree at an audition for a part as a construction worker and being kicked off a set by a security guard who said he could not be part of the cast because of his appearance.

Options for the "native Mexican" are restricted to commercials on government programs, which make up just 5 percent of television ads, Franco said.

Around 62 percent of Mexico's population is "mestizo" (Amerindian-Spanish), 21 percent is "predominantly Amerindian," 7 percent is "Amerindian" and 10 percent is "other (mostly European)," according to the US Central Intelligence Agency's World Factbook.

In August 2013, a casting call sparked outrage. Mexico's flagship air carrier, Aeromexico, said it was looking for actors and actresses for one of its commercials but specified that it wanted "nobody dark-skinned."

The airline subsequently apologized and blamed its ad agency, but despite the uproar the message in casting calls in Mexico remains equally - albeit more subtly - discriminatory.

Discrimination in television advertising is especially evident during the Christmas season, when commercials typically portray stereotypical perfect families that are much more blonde and light-skinned than the national average.