A new study by the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative has found that Latino and Hispanic representation in top-grossing films has remained stagnant over the past fifteen years, with only 4.4% of actors in lead roles or secondary. Despite their presence and receiving better reviews, these films suffer from a significant lack of funding and representation behind the scenes, which keeps ethnic and cultural diversity in the film industry in a continuous shadow.
Photo: Gage Skidmore
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Leer en español: La representación latina en el cine no ha mejorado en 15 años
The underrepresentation of Latinos and Hispanics persists
Latino and Hispanic representation in cinema has not improved in fifteen years, according to the conclusions of a study that analyzed the 1,600 highest-grossing films from 2007 to 2022.
The research, carried out by the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative of the University of Southern California (USC), shows that in the 15 years evaluated only 75 actors (4.4%) had main and supporting roles in the most successful films in sales. Hispanic or Latino.
Limited opportunities for older actresses
Although of those 75 actors more than half, 43, were women or girls, only five roles were played by women 45 years old or older, and three of those roles went to Jennifer Lopez.
In 2007, the percentage of Hispanic actors who had a role with dialogue was only 3.3%, a percentage that almost doubled in fifteen years although it remained low, standing at 5.8%.
Persistent absence of Latino protagonists
Between 2007 and 2022, there was not a single year in which every studio released a film with a Latino or Hispanic lead or co-star.
Warner Bros. was the studio that presented the fewest number of films with a Hispanic or Latino protagonist, releasing only three films of these characteristics in a period of 15 years.
The study also highlights that films with Latinos or Hispanics as protagonists have had less financing for their production and resources for marketing compared to films starring non-Latinos.
When evaluating 126 films from 2021 and 2022, the study highlighted that the average budget for films starring Latinos and Hispanics was around $10 million, in contrast to the average of $25 million received by films starring non-Latinos.
Despite receiving less support, the study assures that there is no difference in box office performance between films with Hispanic or Latino protagonists and those without them and that films with their presence have even had better reviews.
Behind the scenes rendering
Behind the screen, Latino or Hispanic representation remains low. According to the study, less than 5% of all top-grossing film directors from 2007 to 2022 were Hispanic or Latino and less than 1% of them were women. Furthermore, 69.5% of all of them were born outside the United States.
It also highlights the lack of Latino and Hispanic representation in ethnic, disability, and people belonging to the LGTB community issues, as well as the prevalence of stereotypes, often portraying immigrants or criminals.