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

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After 17 Seasons “Grey’s Anatomy” Has Finally Cast Its First Indigenous Doctor

Entertainment

After 17 Seasons “Grey’s Anatomy” Has Finally Cast Its First Indigenous Doctor

Courtesy of ABC

Just when you thought “Grey’s Anatomy” had literally done every storyline in the book, they turn around and surprise you. And this time, “Grey”‘s is bringing some good news.

Now, in 2021, after 17 seasons, “Grey’s Anatomy” is finally featuring its first indigenous doctor, Dr. James Chee, played by actor Robert I Mesa.

Robert I Mesa is an actor of Navajo and Soboba descent. According to an online biography, Mesa is self-taught photographer, filmmaker and actor working in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Mesa took to Instagram to celebrate the good news about being the first indigenous doctor on “Grey’s”.

“I’m so excited and honored to be the first indigenous doctor on Grey’s Anatomy,” he wrote. “James Chee will be back on April 15, so be sure to tune in…Thank you so much To Grey’s Anatomy! I know this is going to mean so much to my indigenous peoples.” He ended the caption with “it’s a good day to be indigenous”

Although now Mesa is now on one of the biggest shows on TV, he is still a relative newcomer to showbiz and “Grey’s” will be his first major role after appearing on episode three of this season.

“Grey’s Anatomy” has always prided itself in hiring diverse actors to fill its cast.

In fact, when “Grey’s” creator Shonda Rhimes first created the show in 20–, she instructed her casting director to bring in actors of all races to audition. “The script was written with no character descriptions, no clue as to what anyone should look like,” she told Oprah in 2006.

“We read every color actor for every single part. My goal was simply to cast the best actors. I was lucky because the network said, ‘Go for it.'”

Those directions led to one of the most culturally and racially diverse casts in TV history. And it also changed the television landscape forever.

“When they had me come in to read for the role of chief of surgery, I hadn’t seen an African American in that kind of role before,” James Pickens Jr, who plays Dr. Richard Webber, said to The Hollywood Reporter.

He continued: “Shonda always wanted to make sure that the show impacted the landscape in a way that we hadn’t seen before on TV. I like to think that Grey’s had a big part in how the industry casts shows.”

“Grey’s Anatomy” has paved the way for other racially-diverse Shondaland shows like “How to Get Away With Murder”, “Scandal”, “Station 19”, and most recently, “Bridgerton.”

We’re glad that an iconic television staple like “Grey’s Anatomy” is finally expanding its diverse cast to include its first indigenous doctor.

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A New Film Called ‘Trans Los Angeles’ Is Coming Out and It Features Mostly Queer, Latinx Talent

Entertainment

A New Film Called ‘Trans Los Angeles’ Is Coming Out and It Features Mostly Queer, Latinx Talent

Photos via Getty Images

If you’re afraid there is going to be a big “Pose”-shaped hole in your heart after the upcoming final season, then we might have some good news for you. A new movie called “Trans Los Angeles” might be just what the doctor ordered.

On Wednesday, Deadline announced that a new movie called “Trans Los Angeles” is officially in the works.

And if that wasn’t exciting enough, the cast of “Trans Los Angeles” will feature a range of LGBTQ Latinx talent, including Stephanie Beatriz, Carmen Carrera, and YaYa Gosselin. The movie is the vision of up-and-coming transgender writer/director Kase Peña.

According to Deadline, “Trans Los Angeles” will be an anthology film, made up of four four stand-alone shorts. Each segment will focus on a different character in a different part of Los Angeles and spotlight the different and varying lives of trans people.

One of the stand-alone shorts has buzz around it already. The anthology installment “Period” will star the aforementioned Latinx superstars Stephanie Beatriz, Carmen Carrera, and YaYa Gosselin.

Per Deadline, “Period” will center on a Latinx transgender woman named Vergara (Carmen Carrera) who has recently been released from LA County jail. Vergara “gets a part-time job taking care of a shy 12-year-old girl (YaYa Gosselin), while doing sex work on the side, to make ends meet.” However, things become complicated for Vergara because “sex work is what got her locked up in the first place.”

“Trans Los Angeles” will be, without a doubt, trailblazing. It is rare that Hollywood makes movies with transgender people as main characters and transgender artists inhabiting the roles. So far, Panavision, Light Iron Post, WarnerMedia, and Latino Lens are backing “Trans Los Angeles”. The WeHo Transgender Arts Initiative grant is also partially-funding the film.

Excited for the news, fans and fellow celebrities alike flooded the social media accounts of all of those involved, offering their endless support and congratulations.

“So happy for you!!!! 👏👏👏” wrote Eva Longoria. Another fan added “Can’t wait to see this, Carmen!! YOU GO GIRL!!!”. Writer/director Kase Peña commented: “It’s only the beginning. That’s all. ❤️🔥”

Last year, Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival selected Peña to participate in a Netflix’s Latinx Inclusion Fellowship Series. The fact that Peña was able to get such an ambitious project off the ground shows that it just takes a bit of effort on Hollywood’s part for more diverse stories to get made.

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