Born in New York City to Sephardic Jewish parents, Morrison had a lengthy career before she played Rosario Salazar, Karen Walker’s (Megan Mullally) maid. Unlike other servants of color who remained silent or absent from the narrative, Rosario gave as good as she got it. She knew how to push the buttons of not just her boss, but her bosses’ friends.
But there was more to the relationship than put-downs and insults. There was a loving bond between Karen and Rosario that added a new layer to the relationship.
May her memory be a blessing to those who knew and loved her in person and those who loved her on screen.
*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series Will & Grace. Read at your own risk if you have not watched either the previous series or the new series.
There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.
In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Will & Grace to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.
Many times, when a maid or a servant (especially a maid or a servant of color) is portrayed, they are subservient and quietly going along with the instructions of their employer. They also sometimes portrayed as unintelligent or too close to the stereotype. But Rosario Salazar (Shelly Morrison) is different. She is Karen Walker’s (Megan Mullally) maid and Jack McFarland’s (Sean Hayes) ex-wife. The best thing about Rosario is that whatever Karen dishes out, she can give it back ten fold.
But, the relationship between Karen and Rosario is completely adversarial. There is an underlying symbiotic relationship/friendship that balances out the moments when Karen and Rosario are in each other’s faces. When Rosario died in the first season of the reboot, it was a heartbreaking loss that was palpable to anyone who was watching.
To sum it up: When a writer takes a stereotype and knocks it on the head, it’s a challenge. It’s a challenge not just for the writer to go beyond the stereotype, but the reader or the audience member to shift their expectations of the character. In a sense, Rosario was the typical maid of color who works for a Caucasian woman. But, she was not subservient, could give it as much as she took and it, and in the end had a deep emotional connection with her employer. That is why Rosario Salazar is beloved by the fans of Will & Grace.