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'Mayans MC' team tackles diversity, 'Sons of Anarchy' comparisons

The executive producers and cast of "Mayans M.C." speak to the representation the "Sons of Anarchy" spin-off brings.

Discussions about representation, diversity and inclusion have been a hot topic in Hollywood for the past few years, but the stars behind FX’s forthcoming “Sons of Anarchy” spinoff, “Mayans M.C.,” promise that the series is much more than just a diverse take on the classic long-running drama.

“We’re not here to fill some sort of quota,” star J.D. Pardo said when the “Mayans M.C.” team recently stopped by the Los Angeles Times studio at Comic-Con.

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“This isn’t like, ‘Oh, we have to have a diverse version of ‘Sons’ or another TV show with diversity,” he added. “What I love about this show is it simply takes the camera off of ‘Sons of Anarchy’ and just moves it over to the Mayans.”

The Mayans gang was a recurring presence on the original series, originally serving as foils for Sons’ main group, SAMCRO, before becoming their allies. Premiering in September, the spinoff turns the attention completely to the Mayans M.C. charter on the California/Mexico border – looking at it from the perspective of a new prospect (Pardo) trying to join the charter.

“We’re telling this story in a way that’s never been told before — from the inside out instead of the outside in,” said co-creator Elgin James, who wrote the pilot for the series along with “Sons” mastermind Kurt Sutter.

James praised Sutter for the decision to focus so heavily on Latino characters and culture and expand their portrayal.

“Television has been telling stories about black and brown characters as criminals forever and usually as one-dimensional stereotypes,” James said. “We came from the cycle of poverty, we came from the cycle of violence and the cycle of incarceration. And for the first time, we can tell our own stories. We’re not making the brown ‘Cosby Show.’”

Watch the full interview above to learn more about the spin-off’s central story and other key differences between “Mayans” and “Sons.”

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