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[Latinos in Hollywood]
New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez: “This study, unfortunately, confirms that to this day, Latinos remain disproportionately underrepresented in Hollywood both behind and in front of the camera.”
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), the highest ranking Latino in Congress, and Hispanic Caucus (CHC) members responded to a groundbreaking study on diversity in Hollywood, focusing specifically on Hispanic talent and representation.

The study, entitled “Latinos in Film: Erasure on Screen & Behind the Camera Across 1,200 Popular Movies,” was published by the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, the National Association of Latino Independent Producers (NALIP), and Wise Entertainment, and revealed the depth of exclusion and misrepresentation of Latinos in the entertainment industry.

The study found that Latinos only held 4.5% of speaking roles and 3% of lead or co-lead roles across 1,200 popular films in the last decade. When Latinos played leading roles, 28% were criminals, 17% were poor or low income, and 21% were “angry.” The report also demonstrated issues with workforce diversity; just 4% of film directors, 3% of producers, and 3% of casting directors were Latino.

“This study, unfortunately, confirms that to this day, Latinos remain disproportionately underrepresented in Hollywood both behind and in front of the camera,” said Sen. Menendez, Co-Chair of the CHC Task Force on Diversity. “Despite record movie attendance by Latinos, and our growing economic, political and cultural influence across America, our community is still largely missing from today’s hit films. Most worryingly, when Latino characters are portrayed in these films, the roles all too often reinforce negative stereotypes that play into President Trump’s hateful rhetoric against our community. America’s film industry has incredible influence over our society and culture, and I will not let up the pressure until we see a fair reflection of our Latino community on the big screen.”

“The findings of this study reaffirm our concerns that Latinos are being excluded and misrepresented across Hollywood. Disturbingly, when Latino characters are included, it only serves to reflect simplistic and negative stereotypes about our communities. While we are proud of the few success stories and the occasional diverse film with a Latino cast, it’s clear that the film industry has a long way to go,” said CHC Chairman Joaquin Castro (TX-20). “Our Congressional Hispanic Caucus is working to promote diversity across industries, from tech to education and entertainment. This study - while disappointing - opens the door to renew our conversations with Hollywood decision-makers, studios and content creators on how we can work together to ensure Latinos are accurately portrayed and included at every level of the film industry. Moving forward, we will continue fighting for diversity and will hold Hollywood accountable to take steps to reflect the breadth of the American people in their workforce. ”

“The lack of Latino representation in the entertainment industry continues. It is clear by this report that Latino representation in Hollywood is not a priority. Hollywood executives must do better when it comes to casting and film crew hiring across the industry to ensure that there is real representation, not only of Latinos, but of all communities of color on their film sets,” said Congressman Tony Cárdenas (CA-29), Co-Chair of the CHC Task Force on Diversity. “We need to encourage the next generation of entertainers and filmmakers that there is a place for them in every position of the industry and that success in Hollywood is not a distant dream.”

Earlier this year, the CHC met with Charles Rivkin, President and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), to discuss how Congress can work with studios to improve Latino diversity. Sen. Menendez, Reps. Castro, Cardenas and CHC leadership also sent a letter to the MPAA requesting information on their efforts to increase diversity in the film industry and their overall strategy to increase Hispanic representation in the film and television industry.

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