Culture

Once Again, A Study Shows Latinos Continue To Lack Representation In Hollywood

Representation is a loaded word when it comes to conversations about diversity in casting, especially when it comes Latinos. The latest study from UCLA’s “Hollywood Diversity Report 2018″, shows the huge disparity Latinos experience when it comes to roles behind and in front of the camera. What makes matters even more frustrating is the reports evidence shows audiences tend to prefer movies and TV shows that feature diverse casts. So what gives and what has to change? Here’s a look at the evidence on why Latinos are being left out of the conversation when it comes to representation.

This year, the Oscars showcased the best of what a prospering film industry that includes Latinos could be, or did it?

UCLA’s “Hollywood Diversity Report 2019” 

The feel-good story of this past awards season was Alfonso Cuaróns’ Oscar-winning film “Roma.” The movie centered on a housekeeper of a middle-class family in Mexico City. Despite high praise, the film received and Cuarón becoming the fifth Mexican in the last six years to win Best Director, the reality for U.S.-born Latinos in Hollywood hasn’t changed.

Latinos account for the largest percent of moviegoers among minorities at 24 percent. Yet when it comes to getting roles, that’s a whole different story. In 2017, Latinos accounted for only 5.2 percent of all roles in the top grossing films. This was hardly an improvement from the previous year which was at 2.7 percent.

When it comes to getting roles on TV shows, it’s the same trend. Latinos accounted for no more than 7 percent of all TV roles when it came to the top shows on broadcast, cable and digital networks.

For those in the industry already, making changes is harder than it looks.

Credit: @StripeyWorm/Twitter

Even when Latino-centered shows like “One Day At A Time” receive critical acclaim, that is rarely enough. This past month news broke that the show has been canceled by Netflix. Despite high praise from critics and fans, the series still has to prove itself.

“We are one of the fastest growing minority groups in country and we are still fighting for our films and scripts to be shown to the world,” independent filmmaker Kenneth Castillo said. “That’s not right.”

Castillo says what’s going on with “One Day At A Time” is an unfortunate thing that proves how even when Latinos create great content, at times it’s still not good enough. “I’ve seen this happen time and time again in Hollywood and we need to have some meaningful dialogue about where as Latinos we stand.”

If Latinos are going to see real progress when it comes to representation, they can’t wait for Hollywood to do it first.

Credit: Reuters/Twitter

There’s no denying that we are entering a new golden age in Mexican cinema with the continued success of Latino directors like Cuaron, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu and Guillermo Del Toro. But it’s a different story when it comes to U.S.-born Latino directors and actors.

There have been just a handful of U.S.-born directors and actors to break into mainstream success. Statistics also show studios take less chances on Latino-focused films and shows.

Representation is important when it comes to how one sees themselves and how the world perceives them as. As the largest growing minority group in the U.S., Latinos should be near the top of most film studios and getting major roles. But that’s anything but the truth. So this all begs the question, where and how do we see change?

If Latinos are going to see make any progress when it comes to more representation, they’re going to have to do it themselves. Castillo says that Latinos can’t wait for Hollywood to open the gate for more opportunities.

“We have to create our own stories and narratives in this country,” Castillo said. “Grab a camera, write that script and share your own story that Hollywood will never get to tell.”

READ: Latinos Are Still Waiting For Their Own Movie Moment As Hollywood Tries Casting More Diverse Films

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Netflix’s ‘Ya No Estoy Aquí’ Will Represent Mexico At This Year’s Academy Awards

Entertainment

Netflix’s ‘Ya No Estoy Aquí’ Will Represent Mexico At This Year’s Academy Awards

Ya No Estoy Aqui / Netflix

Mexico has a storied history of successfully competing at the Academy Awards. In fact, it’s this long shadow of worldwide successes – such as last year’s Roma by Alfonso Cuarón – that hang over any Mexican film productions with Oscar ambitions.

And although not everyone agrees with this year’s choice for the country’s selection for the competition, many are rallying around Mexico’s chance at winning another golden statue.

Netflix Mexico is sending another film for Oscars consideration: Ya No Estoy Aquí.

The Mexican Academy of Cinematographic Arts and Sciences (AMACC) announced this week that Ya No Estoy Aquí, by director Fernando Frías and released by Netflix, will represent Mexico in competition for “Best Foreign Film” at the 93rd Annual Academy Awards.

Fernando Frías expressed his excitement in a statement shared by Netflix.

“The news took me by surprise and I am overwhelmed with happiness and emotion… The public shows us that they are ready to connect with our stories here in Mexico: here they found their way, from here they have been writing, and from here they go out into the world and not the other way around,” he stressed.

Although we’ll have to wait until March 15 to find out if Ya No Estoy Aquí actually makes the Academy’s short list of films officially nominated to the Best Foreign Film category. So far, more than 30 countries have submitted films, so there is still a long road ahead.

Other Mexican films considered for the competition included Nuevo Orden by Michel Franco, El ombligo de Guie’dani by Xavi Sala; Esto no es Berlín by Hari Sama; Mano de obra by David Zonana; and Te llevo conmigo by Heidi Ewing.

Ya No Estoy Aquí has earned huge praise for its powerful storyline.

Ya No Estoy Aquí has received praise for his cast of non-professional actors and for being shot on location across parts of Mexico and the United States. As a film, it addresses important issues that are particularly relevant in today’s political climate, such as belonging and immigration.

The film tells the story of Ulises (Juan Daniel Garcia), a young man who is part of the band Los Terkos, who are immersed in the culture of Kolombia music, popular for years in the northern city of Monterrey. But after problems with a local cartel, Ulises must escape to the United States where, not surprisingly, he suffers a thousand and one issues while adapting to his new life.

Since its debut at different festivals such as the Morelia Film Festival, the Cairo Film Festival and the Tribeca Film Festival, Ya No Estoy Aquí has captured the attention of critics, obtaining important recognitions in its wake. A few months ago it was the highest award-winning film at the Ariel Awards with ten awards, including Best Film.

It was just last year that the Mexican film Roma won big at the awards ceremony.

Credit: Roma / Netflix

Just last year Mexico won big at the Oscars, thanks to Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma, which took home many awards including Best Foreign category. Cuarón along with Guillermo del Toro (who won big in 2018) have both endorsed the academy’s selection of Ya No Estoy Aquí.

Prior to Roma and The Shape of Water, Mexico has competed eight times at the Academy Awards. Most recently with Biutiful (2011) by Alejandro González Iñárritu, Pan’s Labyrinth (2007) by Del Toro, The Crime of Padre Amaro (2002) by Carlos Carrera, Amores Perros (2000) by González Iñárritu, Actas de Marusia (1975) by Miguel Littin, Tlayucan (1962) by Luis Alcoriza, Ánimas Trujano, The Important Man (1961) by Ismael Rodríguez and Macario (1960) by Roberto Galvadón.

We will have to wait until April 2021 to know if AMACC’s choice was the right one. In the meantime, because of the pandemic, you can enjoy Ya No Estoy Aquí on Netflix and judge for yourself. 

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Oscar Isaac Will Be Marvel’s First Live-Action Latino Superhero on Disney Plus

Entertainment

Oscar Isaac Will Be Marvel’s First Live-Action Latino Superhero on Disney Plus

Photo: Roy Rochlin/WireImage

Oscar Isaac was cast in the new Disney+ Marvel TV series “Moon Knight”. According to Variety, “Moon Knight” will tell the story of “an elite soldier and mercenary who decides to fight crime after he becomes the human avatar of Khonshu, the Egyptian god of the moon.”

The news is exciting because it marks the Guatemalan-American actor’s first lead on a TV series and Marvel’s first live-action Latino superhero. In a time when seeing Latinos on TV is rare, this announcement gives us hope that Hollywood is becoming more open to hiring Latinx talent. It is also exciting because this isn’t the first time that Disney+ has hired a Latino actor to spearhead one of its blockbuster shows.

The streaming giant also hired Chilean-American actor Pedro Pascal to be the lead of its extremely successful Star Wars spinoff series “The Mandalorian,” which will be premiering its second season on October 30th. “The Mandalorian” follows a story of a mysterious space bounty hunter who goes on the run with a “child” (i.e. Baby Yoda) he was hired to track down and return to his client.

“The Mandalorian” was a commercial and critical darling. Experts believed it helped launch Disney+ into the competitive streaming market. Experts believe the show was one of the reasons Disney+ amassed 26.5 million subscribers in its first six weeks.

And as Variety so astutely noted, since there will be no new Star Wars movies until at least 2023, Pascal is the current and only face of the Star Wars franchise. The burden is heavy, but Pascal bears it well. And his excellence in the role is further proof that Latinos can and should be starring in more TV shows.

The hiring of Isaac and Pascal as the leads of their two major shows makes Disney+ strides ahead of other networks who won’t take a chance on Latinx talent. The failure of Hollywood to give Latinos a seat at the table has been a hot-button issue of late, with the problem culminating recently in an open letter that 270 Latinx writers recently penned condemning the entertainment industry. The letter noted that Latinos make up 18.3% of the U.S. population, but only 8.7% of TV writers.

The move to cast Isaac after the success of Pascal in “The Mandalorian” might not be coincidental. The two men are famously close and have been best friends for years after meeting in an off-Broadway play at the beginning of their careers. Isaac has been candid about that time in their lives and in the industry at large, telling Variety that back then it was “so easy to be pigeonholed in very specific roles because we’re Latinos.”

“The dream was to be able to pay rent,” Isaac continued. “There wasn’t a strategy. We were just struggling. It was talking about how to do this thing that we both love but seems kind of insurmountable.” The two actors have been friends rather than competitors in a cutthroat industry, so much so that Isaac convinced Pascal to audition for “The Mandalorian” in the first place, as he told Wired.

It’s worth giving Disney+ credit where credit is due. While people like to discount TV shows and movies as if they don’t make a difference, the truth is, it is so fulfilling to see someone who looks like you reflected back to you through your TV screen. Representation matters.

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