Are Latinos Ignored in Hollywood?

For some, the film world seems to exclude Latinos. However, it may also be the time to generate new opportunities.

Hollywood sign

In Hollywood there is a quota of Latinos who seem to be invisible and who have few opportunities to stand out. / Photo: Pixabay

LatinAmerican Post | Ariel Cipolla

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Leer en español: ¿Los latinos son ignorados en Hollywood?

When we talk about Hollywood, we automatically imagine American actors and directors. It is common to see that most of the visible faces of the industry's films involve Native Americans, but there is also a quota of Latinos that seems to be invisible and that have few opportunities to stand out.

This is what they mention from The New York Times, saying that Hollywood "has ignored Latinos for years," despite the fact that they persevere. There is even the possibility that the situation will change. This would happen with the Untitled Latinx Project, which brings together almost 20 scriptwriters and producers who seek to change that situation.

With this project, there could be the existence of “diversity clauses”, which imply the hiring of these possible minorities within the industry. However, that does not mean that conditions within the film industry are favorable for this sector. Let's see, then, what happens between Hollywood and Latinos.

Hollywood and Latinos

When it comes to talking to almost any worker in the audiovisual area, there seems to be a common dream: to reach Hollywood. As complicated as it may be, just "landing" does not mean having stability. On the contrary, the most difficult thing seems to be to settle within the industry and have a proper name, without the need for it to arise through clauses to guarantee inclusion.

There are many figures who want to change this situation. Thus, a letter came out signed by more than 270 screenwriters and television and film producers who claim the importance of having visibility. Knowing that 13.8% of the US population is Latino, it is not enough that only 4.7% of movie scriptwriters and 8.7% of TV writers are Latino.

In the letter it is seen that figures such as Lin-Manuel Miranda, Eugenio Derbez, or Tanya Saracho had asked that their own stories be told, being in charge of them. In other words, Latin stories are often used for their good impact on the industry, but they are not carried out by a truly Latin American team.

That is to say, at the same time that the stories that relate to the Latino community across the cinema and streaming platforms, different problems arise. Not only is there a poor acting representation in front of the screens, but the technical team that belongs to this community is also scarce.

We can exemplify this with a study by USC's Annenberg Inclusion Initiative that examined the 100 highest-grossing films from 2007 to 2018. The result? Only 3% of these films had Latino actors, either as protagonists or as part of the cast. Furthermore, in only 4.5% of all cases, their characters had Latin dialogues.

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The most representative figures were Jennifer Lopez, Eugenio Derbez and Jessica Alba. However, over the years they lost prominence and, in addition, they rarely fit in with roles that are related to their origins. In addition, whenever Latin Americans appeared, they had similar traits: criminal, poor or with no university education.

It is because of them that Latino actors denounce that "they still continue to be stereotyped in Hollywood." In other words, not only is there a lack of opportunities for these workers but also the roles seem to mock the community, highlighting the aforementioned features and making a generalization on a large scale.

For this reason, this Untitled Latinx Project that we mentioned above was an initiative proposed by the producer and writer Tanya Saracho. There the "fatigue" generated by this situation is expressed, with the aim of being able to tell stories that faithfully represent Latinos, with productions and performances of this group.

For the moment, we will have to wait to see if this project is successful and if there is a subsidy so that Latin American representation can be greater in the Hollywood industry. The stories are attractive, but also the interpretations, the scripts and the directions must have that natural imprint, without the need to force it with workers from other countries.


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