When it comes to Latino representation in major studio films, there is a huge disparity. Statistics show Latinos are the largest minority group in the country and account for the largest percentage of moviegoers among minorities at 24 percent. Yet when it comes to representation on the big screen, Latinos are severely lacking as they made up only 6.2 percent of speaking characters in the top 100 movies in 2017. “Miss Bala,” an action thriller set to hit theaters on Feb. 1, is trying to change the notion that a predominately Latino cast and crew can’t perform well at the box office.
With a 95 percent Latino cast and crew, “Miss Bala” is set to break some barriers along the way.
— Variety_Film (@Variety_Film) November 16, 2018
“Miss Bala” features Gina Rodriguez, the star of “Jane The Virgin”, and a cast that is compromised of 95 percent Latino from cast to crew. Directed by Catherine Hardwicke, the film that centers around Gloria, a makeup artist from Los Angeles who finds her own power when she is kidnapped and forced to smuggle money for a drug cartel. The film is a remake of the 2011 Mexican film directed by Gerardo Naranjo and was produced by Pablo Cruz, who oversaw the original film.
Having a cast that is predominantly Latino is a rarity in today’s Hollywood landscape. After films like “Black Panther” and “Crazy Rich Asians” dominated the box office, “Miss Bala” is getting its chance to give Latinos they’re big break at the box office. What makes the film even more special is the leading role will be a Latina, in an action film nonetheless.
Gina Rodriguez hopes the film opens the door for more Latino representation in TV and film.
— CBS News (@CBSNews) January 22, 2019
Rodriguez made her big splash when she won a Golden Globe in 2015 for her leading role in “Jane The Virgin.” Shortly after, the 34-year-old actress became one of the faces of Latino representation in Hollywood. It’s also a topic she isn’t afraid of speaking up about. Rodriguez has been outspoken about Latin American representation in television and film, she has also acknowledged she can’t be the only voice representing the Latino community.
“There’s no way I can represent the Latinx community alone. We come in varied shades and skin color and eye color and hair, and political background and religious background and the complexities of the Latinx community is so great,” Rodriguez said in a CBS interview. “So to be an advocate is important for me, because if I can create more opportunities and you can see more and the varied beautiful cultures does encompass the Latinx community.”
“Miss Bala” will be the first lead movie role for Rodriguez and will soon be the new face of Netflix’s Carmen Sandiego.
“Miss Bala” isn’t trying to just break Hollywood taboos but start a movement by making Latino-led films the new norm.
‘Miss Bala,’ Animated Spider-Man Show Sony’s Commitment to Diverse Heroes https://t.co/RXA5uDtWwp
— Variety (@Variety) April 24, 2018
There is hope that the success of the film can create a movement in Hollywood where Latino-led films will get more opportunities. Cruz says he hopes this is just the first installment of Miss Bala.
“What will be amazing is if in a year or two we’re making the third installment of ‘Miss Bala,’ and we say (expletive), there are two more films like ours because now things have changed,” Cruz told USA Today.
Alex Nogales, President and CEO of the National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC), says the film represents a new barrier being broken for Latinos. He’s seen many studios pass on films like “Miss Bala” and hopes this is the step in the right direction.
“The NHMC supports films like MISS BALA that are not only compelling and outstanding artistically but are also barrier-breaking, hiring a cast and crew that is 95 percent Latino. This at a time when research shows Latino leads and speaking roles in the top grossing films in recent years are nearly non-existent,” Nogales said. “This is a solid film that will likely show a nearly all-Latino cast and crew can mean good business for a major Hollywood studio.”