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9 Popular Movie Genres That Would Honestly Be Better With Latinos

Movies! So much more than a fun way to lose 20-plus dollars! And Latinos happen to go to the movies more often than other groups, which is an important lil’ morsel of information to remember given the state of Latino representation in film.

So if we’re spending more money and time on movies than anyone else, why don’t we get to see more — and more diverse — representations of ourselves on film? (I mean, I have my theories, best left for another post.) Right now, let’s simply focus on the stories we could be seeing:

1. Noir

Credit: Warner Bros.

Noir and Los Angeles go together like Los Angeles and never leaving your immediate neighborhood, yet this genre tends to focus predominantly on the experiences of white, gringo Angelenos, despite the reality that the City of Angels has always had a huge Latino (most notably Mexican) population. In fact, Latinos account for the majority of Angelenos.

Just imagine: A femme fatale, a hardboiled detective, an innocent dame (or is she????), and nefarious-dude-who-looks-great-in-a-hat who all happen to be Latino. Mexicans! Salvadorans! Maybe a Cuban from Glendale! It’d be fantastic.

2. Quirky-Ass Indie Comedy

Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures

One thing independent comedies have going for them (especially if they’re of the more twee and “quirky” variety) is that they get to showcase people at their most delightfully awkward, which is a far cry from how Latinos are often depicted in film. (One notable exception is Pedro, the Patron Saint Of Awkward Latinos On Film.) Where are the weird Latinos, guys? The awkward? The unsexy (but still pretty damn cute)? The socially inept? SHOW US TO US.

Just imagine: A movie about a group of friends on a road trip, all of ’em Latino, all of ’em with vastly different world views. Will hijinks ensue? YES!

3. Horror

Credit: Warner Bros.

Imagine, if you will, a U.S. horror movie–starring an entirely Latino cast–that isn’t predicated on misunderstanding things like Día De Los Muertos (NO, IT’S NOT “MEXICAN HALLOWEEN”) or La Santa Muerte. So many diverse cultures are united by being goth as f*ck, so why don’t we have a movie that explores that in a truly scary, fun, well-made way?

Just imagine: A moody, heartbreaking look at the origin of La Llorona, without cheesy jump scares cheapening the emotional impact (and true terror) of the story. (Can you help us with this, Guillermo Del Toro? Please?)

4. Romantic Comedy

Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

Romantic comedies are equal parts timeless and dated because they mostly adhere to a strict formula: Girl doesn’t realize that the perfect-ish guy was Right There All Along, they find love, their apartments are suspiciously large for whatever city they’re living in. Also, with few exceptions, both Girl and Guy are white gringos. Sometimes one is Latino (and usually Jennifer Lopez). But imagine if both leads were Latino? Imagine a Latino couple seated in a Nancy Meyers dream-terior, finding that they really CAN have it all! It’s something we’ve yet to see explored on the big screen.

Just imagine: Two young Cuban men–one second generation, one new to the U.S.–meet and fall in love with the Miami skyline as their backdrop.

5. …And The Nicholas Sparksian Romantic Cry-Fest

Credit: Playbuzz / Maximum Pop

In this particular sub-genre, two people–both white, probably both named Taylor–meet, usually on a bridge or beside a barn, always in autumn, and fall in love. The kind love that it can only be torn asunder by someone inevitably dying before the end credits. But you know what other genre features overwrought love stories with little motivation, usually ending in tragedy? Telenovelas. In fact, these genres aren’t so different, and there’s a lot to be mined from combining the blinding whiteness of Nicholas Sparks-inspired movies with the engrossing drama of telenovelas.

Just imagine: Autumn. A rustic bridge. A grandmother gives her granddaughter a locket. Flashback 50 years: Two young Venezuelans clasp hands, tears rolling down their cheeks. “Take this locket,” the dude whispers. “It’ll come into play at the end of the movie in a way that is both moving and romantic. You gon’ cry.”

6. The Ubiquitous And Seemingly Unending Superhero Redux Genre

Credit: Marvel Studios / Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Looking at the recent 10 billion movies DC and Marvel have blasted our way, you’d think that there were no Latino heroes at all (except the dude with face tats who made the love of his life go up in flames). But they exist, many of them are interesting and complex, and it’d be kind of nice to see them do their thing on the big screen. In fact, The Wrap recently featured an in-depth look at why we haven’t seen better Latino representation in this genre, as well as some possible characters that would help skittish white executives green light something different for once.

Just imagine: A Miles. Morales. Movie.

7. Narcosploitation

Credit: Netflix

Ok, I know, I know! But stick with me here: A genre unto itself, movies and TV shows about drug cartels and the lovable rascals who run ’em tend to both 1) over-index slightly when it comes to depictions of Latinos in media and yet 2) tell their stories from the perspective of white gringo folks. And they’re not stopping anytime soon. In fact, Jennifer Lopez (hi, again) is set to star in an HBO movie about “cocaine godmother” Griselda Blanco. So we’re not asking for this genre to stop, dry up, or stop existing. At this point, their existence is a given. What we can ask for, however, is a pivot, to see whether this genre can possibly focus on the rise and fall of the drug trade from the point of view of 1) Latinos who are 2) negatively impacted by the real pain, loss, and destruction caused by the drug trade 3) rather than focusing solely on Latino characters who faceplant into piles of cocaine while Rome burns around them.

Just imagine: A movie about drug cartels that actually show the damage inflicted by drug cartels on a human level without using a gringo DEA agent as a de facto stand-in for the audience.

8. Sweeping Period Drama Featuring Big, Fancy Hats

Credit: Sony Pictures Classics

Merchant Ivory-type movies, filled with gloriously large hats and various people swooning onto various chaise lounges, mostly concern themselves with British people pining for one another on foggy moors or, sometimes (because colonialism) in China or India. Sometimes these movies are adaptations of books by Jane Austen or E.M. Forster or D.H Lawrence. But the U.S. and Latin America also have their fair share of beloved, sweeping novels about people swooning over one another, and it’d be wonderful to see those stories adapted for the big screen.

Just imagine: Literally any portrayal of Latin America that involves a ballroom scene, a nice hat and a fraught political climate resulting in a love torn asunder.

9. Sci-Fi

Credit: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

OK, here we’re making some progress, thanks in no small part to the Star Wars franchise and the roles it’s given to Diego Luna and Oscar Isaac (who also deserves credit for being the best part of Ex Machina, even though his character wasn’t explicitly Latino) and the phenomenal Sleep Dealer. But those are but two roles and two stories in a genre that could use so many more Latino experiences and faces. If the future is becoming increasingly Latino, shouldn’t casting choices reflect that? Shouldn’t our view of the future and its possibilities include many, many, many more Rodriguezes and Garcías? (And maybe slightly fewer Damons. I never forget, Elysium.)

Just imagine: A visually stunning exploration of a future Latino utopia called “Pochotopia.” With some robots, maybe.


Basically, we’re asking for two things: 1) More Latinos simply existing onscreen, being a part of the world presented to us in film, and 2) an increase in Latino stories, specific to the (many) culture(s) we’ve grown up with, and the unique experiences and situations that are unique to this ethnicity. Also, a break for Jennifer Lopez, because the woman is having a hell of a time being the sole Latina across so many disparate genres.


READ: 17 Perfectly Creepy Horror Movies By Latinos To Watch Before You Die

What other genre would you like to see feature more Latino stories and actors? Musicals? Erotic thrillers? The next David Lynch film? Tell us!

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America Ferrera Celebrates 20th Anniversary Of Working On ‘Gotta Kick It Up’ With Sweet IG Post

Entertainment

America Ferrera Celebrates 20th Anniversary Of Working On ‘Gotta Kick It Up’ With Sweet IG Post

It has been 20 years since America Ferrera’s dream of becoming an actor back true. She took to Instagram to reflect on the moment that her dream started to come true and it is a sweet reminder that anyone can chase their dreams.

America Ferrera shared a sweet post reflecting on the 20th anniversary of working on “Gotta Kick It Up!”

“Gotta Kick It Up!” was one of the earliest examples of Latino representation so many of us remember. The movie follows a school dance team trying to be the very best they could possibly be. The team was down on their luck but a new teacher introduces them to a different kind of music to get them going again.

After being introduced to Latin beats, the dance team is renewed. It taps into a cultural moment for the Latinas on the team and the authenticity of the music makes their performances some of the best.

While the movie meant so much to Latino children seeing their culture represented for the first time, the work was a major moment for Ferrera. In the Instagram post, she gushes over the celebrities she saw on the lot she was working on. Of course, anyone would be excited to see Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt hanging out. Yet, what stands out the most is Ferrera’s own excitement to realize that she can make money doing what she loves most.

“I wish I could go back and tell this little baby America that the next 20 years of her life will be filled with unbelievable opportunity to express her talent and plenty of challenges that will allow her to grow into a person, actress, producer, director, activist that she is very proud and grateful to be. We did it baby girl. I’m proud of us,” Ferrera reflects.

Watch the trailer for “Gotta Kick It Up!” here.

READ: America Ferrera’s “Superstore” Is Going To Get A Spanish-Language Adaptation In A Win For Inclusion

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Cast Of ‘In The Heights’ Want You To Know The Importance Of Going To College

Entertainment

Cast Of ‘In The Heights’ Want You To Know The Importance Of Going To College

Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tony-winning Broadway musical In the Heights is finally coming to the big screen, and it has a star-studded cast to make it happen! Joined by Quiara Alegría Hudes – who wrote the book for the musical – and Crazy Rich Asians director Jon Chu, Miranda amplifies the musical’s poignant narrative about community and pursuing your dreams with stunning visuals and tons of amazing music inspired by the rich Latinx culture of Washington Heights.

Ahead of the film’s opening at the Tribeca Film Festival, Lin-Manuel Miranda and several members of the cast join Maria Hinojosa for a poignant discussion on what the film means to them and the importance of going to college no matter who you are or where your come from.

Cast members share their own very unique experiences of growing up and making it into college.

Maria Hinojosa of Latino USA on NPR is joined by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Quiara Alegría Hudes, Leslie Grace (who plays ‘Nina’), and Corey Hawkins, all of whom share their unique and profound experiences with deciding on if they would go to college and what they went through to get there.

So many of us are first or second generation college students, reaping the benefits of the hard work put in by our parents and abuelos to help us achieve our dreams. But not all of us share the same path to university, something made very clear as each of these In The Heights cast members make very clear with their own journeys.

Lin-Manuel acknowledges his own privilege on his path to university and how it influenced the film.

Manuel says that he had an advantage in his journey, thanks to his parents who really helped cultivate that desire for learning from a young age. He was able to attend a prestigious private school as a child but even then recognized a duality within him existed – going as Lin at school (in a predominantly white space) and Lin-Manuel back at home.

Upon going to college at Wesleyan University, Manuel met and made Latino friends, a lot of whom were first from their families to go to college. Many didn’t get the same crash course in code switching that he did from a younger age, so for many of his peers it was tough for them to adjust to college life.

By the end of his first year in college, his roommates at the Latino program house shrunk from eight other members to just four. This struggle and conflict with their time in college and their Latinx identity is reflected in the character Nina and her own struggle with returning to her home in Washington Heights.

For Quiara, the story of Nina’s journey is particularly personal.

Much like Lin-Manuel Miranda, Quiara Alegría Hudes’ parents were also leaders in their community. Her father was a prominent businessman while her mother was an activist in her community. But unlike Manuel, her parents didn’t attend university, it wasn’t something that was on their path. She points out that “it wasn’t that they didn’t treasure learning, it’s just that university wasn’t part of that path.”

Quiara – who attended Yale – says that she was very conflicted as a half Latina and half white woman even though she had often grown up in white spaces. However, she wasn’t prepared for being in a space with so few Latinos. She had to learn how to merge those two parts of her life that she felt were drifting further and further apart.

The cast discusses ‘imposter syndrome’ and how to fight it.

Imposter syndrome is very real. And it can often affect those of us who feel like we don’t deserve our achievements or recognition. Maria asks the cast to how they overcame it and how they learned to own their space.

Leslie Grace reminds us that “you have a story only you can tell and you need to tap into your feelings of potential.”

Check out the full trailer for In The Heights below.

The festival’s opening night screening will be held on June 9 at the United Palace theater in Washington Heights. For the first time ever, Tribeca’s inaugural film will be screened simultaneously across all five boroughs in multiple open-air venues.

Following the opening night of Tribeca, “In the Heights” will debut in theaters and on the HBO Max streaming service on June 11. It was originally scheduled to be released last year, but Warner Bros. postponed its release due to the pandemic.

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