Entertainment

In Efforts To Double Latino Representation In Hollywood, LA Mayor Eric Garcetti Unveils New Historic Initiative

On the same day that many pointed criticism towards the Oscar nominations for lack of diversity, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti unveiled a new initiative to help curb the issue, particularly for Latinos. The project is being called LA Collab, a historic endeavour that plans to link Latino talent to opportunities in the entertainment industry with the goal of doubling “Latino representation in Hollywood by 2030.”

According to the LA Times, the initiative has already “raised a quarter of a million dollars to finance a range of film, TV and podcast development deals and projects intended to provide opportunities for Latino filmmakers, writers and actors and crew members.” The initial funding for the project is coming from the Mayor’s Fund for Los Angeles, the Annenberg Foundation, WarnerMedia and Endeavor Content, a press release from Garcetti’s office read. 

Garcetti co-founded the initiative with Beatriz Acevedo, the founder of mitú and president of the Acevedo Foundation and Ivette Rodriguez, founder of communications firm AEM. The trio says that the issue of Latino representation in Hollywood is one that needs attention. The announcement is spurred by a 2019 study by the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative at the University of Southern California that showed how Latinos are vastly underrepresented in the film industry. 

Despite making up almost 20 percent of the U.S. population, the study found only 3 percent of the top-grossing films from 2007 to 2018 had Latino actors in lead or co-lead roles. LA Collab wants to help and push more Latinos to the front and behind the camera in the next decade. 

The study was a wakeup call for many civic and film leaders in Hollywood that were dismayed by the numbers that showed the growing disparity for Latinos in the entertainment industry. The report showed that only 4.5 percent of all speaking characters from the last 12 years of film were Latino, behind the camera, only 4 percent of directors of the 1,200 films were Latino.

“Latinos are a powerful force in Los Angeles’s culture and economy, and our trademark industry should tap into the diverse pool of talent in our own backyard,” Garcetti said at a news conference Monday. “On big screens or small, in front of the camera or behind it, our studios, actors, directors and producers inspire the world with the power of their creativity and imagination, and LA Collab will elevate new voices and empower the next generation of Latinx creatives.”

The lack of Latino representation in the entertainment industry is a problem that goes back many years with some putting blame on movie studios not greenlighting certain projects and films. Thomas Saenz, chair of the National Latino Media Council, told mitú back in 2018 that the problem is these studios overlooking Latino talent.

“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 said. “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.”

The LA Collab initiative hopes to be a catalyst for that change. The project already has the support of some big Hollywood names that will be part of connecting workers with various employers in the industry.

Backed by Eva Longoria, J.J. Abrams, Eli Roth, Devon Franklin, Jason Blum, and Zoe Saldana, LA Collab will be working with all of them in some capacity to connect Latinos with opportunities. Roth will help connect Latino horror filmmakers via his digital platform, Crypt TV and Lionsgate’s Pantelion Films with Pantaya will also be hiring new bilingual voices for their projects. There have also been secured deals with multiple media companies, including Endeavor Content, WarnerMedia’s 150, Shine Global and Southern California Public Radio’s LAist Studios.

For Longoria, who has long championed the need for more Latino representation in the film industry, says that she will also be opening the door for more Latinos with her production company, UnbeliEVAble Entertainment. 

“As a Latina, I want to see more actors who look like me on screen and behind the camera,” Longoria said in a statement. “I started my own production company to create content from our community, and I became a director/producer to be in a position to hire people who look like me. With LA Collab, I want to open the door for many more Latinx creators and fuel the emergence of a better entertainment industry that elevates and celebrates the diversity and richness of my culture.”

The announcement of LA Collab coincidentally fell on the day that Oscar nominations were announced. Criticism followed the nominations that had only one person of color, Cynthia Erivo, up for an award in the four major acting categories.

There was calls for multiple snubs on Monday morning as the Oscar nominations were revealed. Much of that criticism came from the lack of women of color, particularly the snub of  Jennifer Lopez for her role in “Hustlers,” for which she won a Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Award nominations. The omission stood out for many reasons including what could have been the fifth Latina nominee in the category and the first Latina winner in the award’s history. 

This announcement of LA Collab comes at a time when the disparity in Latino roles and representation is the entertainment industry only seems to be going backwards. This year’s Oscars nominations is just one example of this continuing problem and one that Acevedo says can be fixed by working alongside studios and fellow allies. 

“The radical decline of Latinos in Hollywood was the catalyst to rally Hollywood behind this crisis to create change together,” Acevedo said in a statement. “By facilitating unprecedented collaborations between the creative community … and other influential allies, LA Collab will ultimately drive exponential growth for the industry and our community.”

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

Los Angeles Sheriff Alex Villanueva Threatens To Cut Sexual Assault Investigation Unit Because Of Proposed Budget Cuts

Things That Matter

Los Angeles Sheriff Alex Villanueva Threatens To Cut Sexual Assault Investigation Unit Because Of Proposed Budget Cuts

Josh Lefkowitz / Getty Images

Law enforcement in Los Angeles is facing budget cuts already because demonstrators are keeping up the pressure for police reform. COVID-19 has added pressure to Los Angeles County to make some additional cuts and Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. LA Sheriff Alex Villanueva is warning what the cuts mean to the department at large.

Los Angeles Sheriff Alex Villanueva is warning residents about the impact of the proposed budget cuts.

Sheriff Villanueva issued a statement titled “DEFUNDING THE LASD BUDGET $145.4 M.” In the letter, Sheriff Villanueva warns that the budget cuts will lead to the elimination of the Special Victims Bureau. The bureau is responsible for investigating the physical or sexual abuse of children and women. The sheriff names other departments that will be eliminated in response to the upcoming budget cuts.

“It’s unconscionable,” Sheriff Villanueva told CBS Los Angeles. “These are the major detective units of the entire department. They serve the entire county of Los Angeles. Those four units…are the cream of the crop of investigative units throughout the entire nation, and as the largest county in the nation, I cannot see how we move forward without these four units,” he said.

The sheriff took the time to attack the “Defund the Police” movement.

“The CEO and the Board have embraced the “Defund the Police” movement and are cynically hiding behind accounting maneuvers, knowing well that loss of revenue in sales tax can be made up by equitable distributing more stable revenue streams like property taxes,” reads part of Sheriff Villanueva’s statement. “This is not acceptable and a willful abandonment of the top priorities of local government: keep people safe.”

Sheriff Villanueva is also refusing to enforce orders to close the beaches for the 4th of July weekend in Los Angeles County.

Sheriff Villanueva told the press that his department was not included in talks about the closure so the sheriff’s office will not enforce the order. Los Angeles County is experiencing a spike in COVID-19 cases as the rest of California deals with the same. The Los Angeles Health Department ordered the beaches, piers, and boardwalks closed for the holiday weekend to fight the sudden spike in cases.

“Closing the beaches and prohibiting fireworks displays during this important summer holiday weekend was an incredibly difficult decision to make, but it’s the responsible decision to protect public health and protect our residents from a deadly virus,” Barbara Ferrer, the county’s director of public health, said in a statement. “The Fourth of July holiday weekend typically means large crowds and gatherings to celebrate, a recipe for increased transmission of COVID-19.” 

Sheriff Villanueva’s actions as sheriff are making some Los Angeles County residents wanting him to leave the office.

At the beginning of his term as sheriff, Villanueva rehired a police officer who was fired for domestic violence allegations. The police officer who was rehired set off a legal battle that landed in court with a judge having to decide whether or not to let the police officer stay.

Superior Court Judge Mitchell Beckloff handed down an injunction ordering rehired police officer Caren Carl Mandoyan to surrender his gun and badge. Additionally, the judge ordered, “Sheriff Alex Villanueva cease to recognize or hold Mandoyan out as a Deputy Sheriff or a County employee.”

READ: Family Of Andres Guardado Are Asking For The Autopsy Report Be Released

Tamales Elena Is About To Become LA’s First Afro-Mexican Restaurant

Culture

Tamales Elena Is About To Become LA’s First Afro-Mexican Restaurant

tamaleselenayantojitos / Instagram

The Los Angeles food truck Tamales Elena y Antojitos has been serving up authentic Guerrero food for 20 years. Tamales Elena y Antojitos is a staple at E 110th St. & Wilmington Ave. in LA’s Watts neighborhood offering up banana leaf-wrapped tamales. Now, Tamales Elena y Antojitos will become a restaurant.

Tamales Elena y Antojitos is opening up LA’s first Afro-Mexican restaurant.

Not even a pandemic will slow them down. The family behind the famous food truck in Watts will soon be welcoming guests (following COVID-19 guidelines) in Bell Gardens, California. The tamales, pozoles, and array of Afro-Mexican dishes will be served to everyone who has come to adore the Mexican establishment.

The restaurant will add another cuisine to the vast palate that is LA’s food scene.

Los Angeles is home to a diverse and inviting list of restaurants representing cultures from around the world. Some of the best Mexican food in the country can be found in Los Angeles and Tamales Elena y Antojitos is adding another level to that representation. Angelenos are celebrating the Afro-Mexican restaurant staffed and owned by Afro-Mexicans.

The restaurant has a special place in people’s lives.

The family has been offering up their unique food to residents of Watts for 20 years. In two weeks, Maria Elena Lorenzo will be offering up her family recipes in-store to more people as of July 15. The family has spent years in the food industry and have worked hard to make their mark on LA’s food scene.

Lorenzo’s daughters have been played a big role in getting the restaurant going.

According to LA Eater, Lorenzo’s daughters have spent years working in various restaurants around Los Angeles. Her daughters, Maria, Heidi, Judepth, Teresa, and Nayeli spent time working front-of-house and back-of-house at restaurants including Rivera, Petty Cash Taqueria, and Guerrilla Tacos. Heidi Irra worked at Mezcalero in downtown Los Angeles. Now, the daughters are bringing their experience to the family business and helping their mother start her restaurant.

Lorenzo, lovingly known as Mama, is clearly going to have a lot of guests are her restaurant.

Congratulations, Mama! This is one of those stories we love to see. Nothing makes you prouder than watching Latino families come together to chase the American Dream and succeed.

READ: Guelaguetza, One Of LA’s Most Iconic Mexican Restaurants, Is Sharing Some Of Their Recipes On Instagram