Entertainment

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

Films “Black Panther” and “Crazy Rich Asians” both shattered myths about minority casts by breaking box office records. These successes have led to many people celebrating Hollywood’s perceived move to a more inclusive and diverse casting practice. The films broke stereotypes in Hollywood that diversity doesn’t sell and both already have sequels in the work. Yet, through all this barrier-breaking, one underrepresented group has been left out in the dark again: Latinos. Statistics show Latinos are the largest minority group in the country and account for the largest percent of moviegoers amongst minorities at 24 percent. When it comes to the big screen, Hispanic or Latino characters made up only 6.2 percent of speaking characters in the top 100 movies in 2017. But for Latinos that work in the film industry, this is just business as usual.

Hollywood is catching on to the idea that diversity will turn into dollars at the box office but will Latinos be included?

CREDIT: CREDIT: Motion Picture Association of America

Thomas Saenz, chair of the National Latino Media Council, has been fighting for Latino representation for more than 30 years, yet during that span he hasn’t seen enough change. His organization is part of a joint boycott with the National Hispanic Media Coalition that has chosen to spotlight Paramount as statistics show that the studio has the worst record when it comes to including Latinos in films. Saenz and Alex Nogales, president of the NHMC, led a protest of over 60 people in front of Paramount Studios on Aug. 25 in what is the start of a series of protests against the company.

“When studios focus on diversity that can mean any minority group. Latinos in particular have been represented in minuscule numbers that don’t properly show what this country is made up of,” Saenz says. “In the last 10-15 years, African-American representation has gone up same for Asian-American. But I can’t say the same for Latinos. That has to change.”

Paramount has yet to respond to the protest but when the boycott was announced back in August they felt the rights groups were being overly aggressive in their demands. Saenz responded to that by saying “it requires aggressive action on an issue that infringes on civil rights.”

Hollywood has a proven record of creating very few live-action movies focusing on Latino life and culture.

Marissa Herrera, CEO/Creator of De Mi Alma Productions and NHMC Action Network Member, has worked in the entertainment industry for two decades. She has seen firsthand how hard it is for Latinos to get major film roles.

“I’ve had a TV-pilot ready for six months but no company is willing to take a chance on it yet,” Herrera said. “We need dialogue and allies that can bring us a seat at the table.”

Herrera was part of the studio protest where she voiced her displeasure for the lack of Latino representation. She spoke about the struggle of being both a woman and a Latina in the film industry, which puts her at a worse disadvantage. In 2016, only 13 movie roles out of the top 100 grossing films went to Latinas and only 6 percent of TV roles on scripted television went to Latinos as a whole.

“They took a chance on those productions (“Black Panther,” “Crazy Rich Asians”) and we have yet to see that on our end,” Herrera said. “Those two films were given the opportunity and budget. We are the largest growing population yet still not fairly represented in film, all I ask is why are we not?”

The late ’80s and ’90s saw a slew of big production films with that centered or starred Latinos. What has changed since then?

CREDIT: CREDIT: Twitter/JLoeditsnews

“Stand and Deliver” (1988) and “Selena” (1997) were created during this brief time. Some call it the golden age of Latino-American film because studios began taking chances on films that depicted Latino history. By the end of the ’90s there was reluctance from studios to create political stories that dealt with issues such as immigration and discrimination. Herrera feels that it’s not necessarily movie studios going backwards today but them lumping “diversity” all into one category.

“A lot of the films in the ’90s were great but it was half in half. A lot of those roles were stereotyped. For example, since its an immigration story, it makes it a Latino story,” Herrera said. “I do think we are trying to find a sweet spot where we are portrayed not by what society wants us to be but who we are as a whole.”

What will it take for Hollywood to finally make some changes and show Latinos at the forefront of films?

CREDIT: Credit: Getty/Mark Ralston

For Saenz, he sees a few ways for Hollywood to start making some changes to the way they cast and choose which films they want to invest in. He says Latinos need their big moment now more than ever due to the hostile political climate that President Trump has fueled.

“I didn’t think that Donald Trump would get away his demonization of the Latino community but it’s hard to separate what happens in movies and what results in elections and policies going forward,” Saenz says.

Yet, Saenz sees changes coming and believes boycotts like this bring social awareness to a problem many people, including Latinos, don’t realize. The statistics for Latinos in popular films are a disheartening truth but that hasn’t wavered people like Saenz and Herrera who see a light coming soon.

“Money talks. Its important to not support these companies that are refusing to give opportunities, Herrera said. “We all just want to have a seat at the table and begin making real progress. This is our moment as Latinos to seize because if we don’t do it then who will.”

The NHMC and NLMC delivered a petition at during their last demonstration against Paramount Pictures on September 12.


READ: People Are Calling For A Boycott Of Paramount Studios Because Of Their Severe Lack Of Latino Representation

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Lea Michele Half-Apologizes For Subjecting Former Co-Star To Relentless Microagressions

Entertainment

Lea Michele Half-Apologizes For Subjecting Former Co-Star To Relentless Microagressions

Emma McIntyre / Getty Images for Entertainment Weekly

The world is watching and reacting as the investigation into the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Activists have been raising their voices and organizing to maintain and grow sustained protests around the world demanding justice. Celebrities have been swept up in the anger and protest as well and, for some, it has backfired.

Former “Glee” star Lea Michele tweeted about the death of George Floyd.

Michele joined the trend of celebrities who have started to join in the protests against racial injustice inflicted by police in the U.S. Even major corporations joined the Black Lives Matter conversation after being silent for years with many participating in #BlackOutTuesday. Yet, Michele is facing accusations of her own microaggressions against former co-stars.

Samantha Ware had issues with Michele’s tweet of solidarity.

Ware played Jane Hayward in the sixth season of “Glee” and accused Michele of microaggressions. The microaggressions were relentless and traumatic enough to make Ware’s tenure on the show “a living hell.”

Ware’s response immediately rang true for so many who have faced a lifetime of microaggressions.

Microaggressions are a major issue in everyday life for people of color. They are defined as verbal, behavioral, or environmental things that have underlying hostile and prejudice roots. They are things like assuming that a Black woman is wearing a wig or locking your car doors when a Black person walks by you.

Dabier Snell also spoke up about Michele’s behavior.

Snell continued with a second tweet explaining that he is always here to make content that people will enjoy. He tries to stray away from creating anything negative in the world. However, according to Snell, seeing Michele’s tweet for George Floyd brought back bad memories of her treating him as less than while on set.

Another “Glee” co-star, Alex Newell, echoed Snell and Ware.

Three of Michele’s co-stars have come forward to call her out in public because of how she treated people. All three have been Black actors who have accused the actor of treating them with no respect and lodging microaggressions against them.

Some people are doing the work and reminding us that Naya Rivera tried to call Michele out first.

In her memoir “Sorry Not Sorry,” Rivera recounted how Michele treated her while they were on “Glee.” Rivera did not hold back when she described Michele’s reaction as Santana Lopez became a more and more important character in the “Glee” universe.

“As Santana moved from a background character to one with bigger plot lines and more screen time. I think Rachel – erm, I mean Lea – didn’t like sharing the spotlight,” reads the memoir. “If I’d complained about anyone or anything, she’d assumed I was bitching about her. Soon, she started to ignore me, and eventually it got to the point where she didn’t say a word to me for all of season 6.”

Michele offered a half-apology to address the accusations while admitting to them at the same time.

“While I don’t remember ever making this specific statement and I have never judged others by their background or color of their skin, that’s not really the point, what matters is that I clearly acted in ways which hurt other people. Whether it was my privileged position and perspective that caused me to be perceived as insensitive or inappropriate at times or whether it was just my immaturity and me just being unnecessarily difficult, I apologize for my behavior and for any pain which I have caused,” reads part of the statement. “We all can grow and change and I have definitely used these past several months to reflect on my own shortcomings.”

Her apology sparked more backlash from people who claim to have been part of the “Glee” cast and crew.

Credit: leamichele / Instagram

Other people have commented on her apology claiming that she is not really apologizing if she claims not to remember. Others are frustrated that Michele is apologizing for how people have perceived her words, not for the words itself.

READ: Naya Rivera’s Memoir Talks About Abortion And Anorexia

There’s A Major Update About The ‘Avatar’ Movie Sequel And It Will Seriously Send You To The Moon

Entertainment

There’s A Major Update About The ‘Avatar’ Movie Sequel And It Will Seriously Send You To The Moon

@officialavatar / Twitter

If you’re a fan of the 2009 film “Avatar” by James Cameron, you’re likely a little over movie updates promising you that it will hit theaters soon.

In December 2009, the film smashed box office records and wrangled in a total of $2.7 billion worldwide. Soon after, Cameron revealed his plans for unleashing several sequels that would surmount the technological groundbreaker, and we were beyond elated. Which brings us to 2020.

For a literal DECADE, we’ve seen the film’s release date pushed further and further away from us and the current COVID-19 pandemic has put the fate of the franchise’s future up in the air once again.

Still, recent updates are giving us hope and some insight into what to expect.

Recently, the official Avatar Twitter account posted a new behind-the-scenes photo of Avatar 2 actors.

The new post features Zoe Saldana alongside Sam Worthington. Cliff Curtis and Kate Winslet. If you’re a TRUE fan of Avatar you’ll know that the upcoming sequels will feature an underwater world. The latest reveal from the Twitter account gave us a pretty fun hint at what the work going into that will look like. After all, the film’s performance capture scenes that are taking place underwater are a cinematic first!

“From the set of the sequels: Zoe Saldana, Sam Worthington, Kate Winslet, and Cliff Curtis taking a break from underwater performance capture for a quick photo,” the official Avatar movie account tweeted shared in a tweet from last week. “Fun fact: Much of the performance capture took place in this 900,000-gallon tank, built specifically for the sequels.”

Saldana, Afro-Latina Sci-Fi Queen, will reprise her role as Neytiri in the new series.

She is set to play alongside Worthington who will return as Jake Sully. Actress Kate Winslet joins the cast as the new character Ronal, and Curtis will play a new lead role.

Production for the first Avatar sequel was shut down in March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In May, Deadline announced that production was picked back up in New Zealand. The decision was made because the country has new health and safety production protocols concerning COVID-19. “The country’s lockdown has been gradually eased in recent weeks and further significant relaxation is expected next week, including the permission for gatherings of up to 100 people. Domestic travel and office work is also due to resume,” Deadline reported in a piece about the sequel’s relocation. “The country has restricted international travel and required arrivals to quarantine for a period of time so the teams behind major international productions may need to wait a while longer but the path to a return is becoming clearer.”

After Avatar 2 is released on Dec. 17, 2021!!!

And the fun won’t stop there. Three more Avatar movies are expected to debut in 2023, 2025 and 2027. All featuring Saldana.