Even then, a new study by the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative that was published this week, shows that Latinx representation in film is significantly lagging.
There’s something inherently wrong when the Latinx community, who represents 18% of the total U.S. population and 24% of frequent moviegoers, is nearly shut out from the big screen.
In partnership with the National Association of Latino Independent Producers (NALIP) and Wise Entertainment, USC’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative released the report, titled Latinos in Film: Erasure on Screen & Behind the Camera Across 1,200 Popular Movies. The report looked at the 1,200 top titles at the box office from 2007 to 2018 as well as about 47,268 Spanish speaking or named characters.
One of the report’s biggest findings, however, was that within that time frame, only two Latina lead roles were played by an actor over 45. Both were the multi-hyphenate Jennifer Lopez, and with her upcoming role in Hustlers, she’ll be breaking her own record.
The study found that in the 12 year research period, 4.5% of all speaking or named characters were Latino, but only 3% were leads or co-leads. More findings included that in the films that were studied, 4% had a Latino director and most of those filmmakers (71% to be exact) were from outside of the U.S. And that’s not the shocking part. Out of 1,335 directors, only one of those was a Latina woman. Among producers, only 3% were Latino.
Latinx filmmakers, creators, and actors took to Twitter to express their frustrations over the findings of the study.
One Day At A Time co-showrunner Gloria Calderón Kellett called upon Hollywood to increase the inclusion of the Latinx community by “demanding a 20% increase in representation both in front and behind the camera.”
A Twitter user replied to the One Day at A Time co-showrunner and shared how joyous she feels when she sees Latinx folks credited in the acting and also production roles.
The Twitter user also added that we need more stories from more than one Latinx point of view as well and that “casting needs to diversify as well, since we come in all shades, hair textures, etc.”
Actor, producer, and director Eva Longoria also took to her Instagram to comment on the story, she said: “Only 1 Latina directed a top film over 12 years & 1,200 movies. Studios, why are you erasing Latinas?”
In her caption, she also noted that Latinas are leading as grassroots organizations in many different fields but even then, Hollywood fails to notice their talent and potential.
Latinx Actress Dani Fernandez brought up another important point that we fail to outwardly discuss and that’s agents and acting coaches allegedly telling white actors to change their last name to a Latinx sounding one.
Twitter user Benita Robledo replied to Fernandez’s tweet and recalled a time when someone she knew told her they’d been thinking of changing their name because being “Latina is so so big rn.”
Film critic Alonso Duralde further drove the point home about Latinx people playing a huge part of the moviegoing demo, yet still continued to be overlooked by Hollywood.
“But studios insist on leaving this particular money on the table,” he added.
Superstore actor America Ferrera also took to Instagram to express her thoughts on the study and its findings.
“It’s easier to accept the mistreatment and dehumanization of Latinx people when they are invisible in our culture,” Ferrera wrote in her caption. Like Longoria, Ferrera demand that Hollywood take responsibility for the “stories you reinforce & perpetuate.”
We hope this report shakes things up and causes Hollywood to really look closely at how it not only portrays but also casts Latinx actors, directors, and producers in the future.
We’ve all done it. You meet someone new, take one good look at them and ask (almost rhetorically): “So, where are you from?” Often we expect faces to match exotic countries around the world, but frequently the response, complemented with a puzzled expression, is something like: “Oh, umm Michigan…”
But Latinos come in all shapes, sizes, and colors, We can be white and blonde gueros, we can be black, and every color in between. We are gay, Muslim, Asian, Jewish, Indigenous, and so much more.
Here are 32 Latino celebrities that you probably didn’t know are, in fact, Latino.
1. Nicole Richie
You likely know Nicole Richie as Lionel Richie’s daughter and from “The Simple Life” with bestie Paris Hilton. Nicole was actually adopted by Lionel and her biological family has Mexican ancestry.
I mean people really didn’t know…
Like it was a serious shock apparently to many across social media.
2. Aubrey Plaza
The Parks and Recreation star is boricua pa’que lo sepas, but in several interviews, she said that people never think she’s Puerto Rican. “I’m very fair-skinned, but I feel really connected to that side of my family.”
3. Alexis Bedel
Yep, it’s true! The actress, best known for her role as Rory Gilmore on Gilmore Girls, was born to Argentinian parents (her mom grew up in Mexico) and raised in a Spanish-speaking household. She’s told Latina that she’s often assumed to be Irish.
4. Bruno Mars
Born Peter Hernandez to Puerto Rican and Filipino parents, Mars changed his name to avoid being stereotyped in the music industry, he told GQ.com. “People would say, ‘Your last name’s Hernandez, maybe you should do Latin music … Enrique Iglesias is so hot right now!'”
5. Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi
Jersey Shore star Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi made a name for herself as the (very tan) of New Jersey’s Italian-Americans. But she was actually born in Chile and adopted by an Italian-American family when she was just six months old.
6. Cameron Diaz
Cameron Diaz’s father is of Cuban descent, born and raised in Tampa, Florida’s Ybor City. The bubbly blonde actress told Vogue magazine she spent part of her summers as a child in Tampa with her over-protective grandmother, “playing cards, eating steak and rice and beans and drinking RC Cola and watching soap operas.”
7. Jessica Alba
Actress Jessica Alba’s father is Mexican-American, and she says she takes pride in being Latina, despite rumors to the contrary.
8. Sara Paxton
WIth roles on “Good Girls” and “Last House on the Left”, blonde-haired, blue-eyed Sara says people are often surprised to learn she’s half Mexican.
“People never believe me,”she told The Huffington Post. “I think it’s because they have this stereotype of what a Latina’s supposed to look like, and I don’t fit that typical look.”
9. Hulk Hogan
Considered by some as the greatest professional wrestler ever, Hulk Hogan, born in Georgia. But did you know that he has Panamanian roots?
10. Kid Cudi
Kid Cudi’s real name is Scott Ramon Seguro. His father is a proud Mexican-American.
11. Frankie Muniz
Everyone knew of Frankie Muniz while growing up thanks to “Malcolm in the Middle” and “Agent Cody Banks.”
While Frankie is his stage name, his real name is Francisco, probably thanks to his Puerto Rican father.
12. Raquel Welch
Raquel Welch’s apellido is Tejada. The soap opera star changed her name while trying to make it in Hollywood, but her father was born in La Paz, Bolivia.
13. Uma Thurman
You probably know Uma Thurman from her role in “Pulp Fiction” but did you know she has Mexican roots? Her mother, a fashion model named Nena von Schlebrügge, was born in Mexico City before moving to New York to be a model.
14. Vanna White
You know her as the legendary hostess of Wheel of Fortune, but White – whose very last name hints that she’s Caucasian— is actually part-Latina!
You see, “White” is not Vanna’s real apellido—it’s the name she took from her stepfather Herbert Stackley WhiteJr., a former real estate agent in North Myrtle Beach. Not much is known about Vanna’s real father whose name is Miguel Angel Rosich, except that he was born in Ponce, Puerto Rico and abandoned the family when she was a child.
15. Mark Ballas
Professional ballroom dancer Mark Ballas (Dancing With the Stars) is half-Greek, and half-Mexican. Ballas’ paternal grandmother was named Maria Luisa Marulanda Ballas — and while she is not Latina herself — Ballas’ mother, Shirley Ballas is an award-winning dancer who won the 1995 International Latin American Dance Championship, earning the nickname “The Queen of Latin.”
16. James Roday
The last name trips people up, James says, but the Psych star, who’s half Mexican, changed it from Rodriguez to Roday when he launched his career for two reasons: There was already another James Rodriguez registered in the Screen Actors Guild, and an agent at the network where he landed his first job worried that they would look like they were skirting around issues of diversity by casting a white Latino.
Fergie was everywhere in the early 2000s as part of the musical group The Black Eyed Peas. But, now you know that she has Mexican ancestry in her family line.