Where Are The Latina Directors?
The Alice Initiative, an effort launched by a group of female film executives to shed a spotlight on emerging female talent behind the camera, has shared its list of 30 female filmmakers on the rise. Woo hoo! All the women on the list are talented, buzz-worthy, and telling innovative stories.
Where are the Latina directors?
Of the 30 women listed, it appears that only Melina Matsoukas (she’s directed music videos for the likes of Beyoncé and Rihanna, made the much-anticipated pilot for HBO’s “Insecure” with Issa Rae), who is of Cuban descent, has a Latinx background. (Of course, if we missed someone else, let us know!) And one person out of a list of 30 is OK, but…
The truth is, Hollywood remains overwhelmingly non-Latinx, white and male.
This was mostly recently evidence by USC Annenberg’s 2015 Media, Diversity & Social Change report, as parsed by THR:
Only 14 of 2015’s top movies had a lead or co-lead from the underrepresented groups. Nine were black, one Latino and four of mixed race. Not one lead or co-lead was played by an Asian actor. Seventeen percent of the films did not feature one black or African-American. Asian actors did not appear across 49 of the films.
And things don’t get any better behind the camera:
Behind the camera, of 1,365 key creatives who worked on the top films of 2015, the numbers were stark. There were eight female directors (7.5 percent); 30 female writers (11.8 percent), 220 female producers (22 percent) and just one female composer.
Among the 800 films surveyed since 2007, female directors numbered just 4.1 percent of those hired. And of those, only three were black or African-American and just one was Asian.
Plus, when you consider that of the few roles offered to Latinx, most are based on stereotypes, the need for not only more, but better Latinx representation, stories and viewpoints becomes all the more urgent.
It takes only a quick look at the U.S.’s demographics to see why Latinx representation in front of and behind the camera is important. According to the Pew Research Center, Latinx, as of 2014 there are 55.3 million of us in the United States, or 17.3% percent of the U.S. population. Not only that, but we’re super young, and thus will outlive everyone else until we inherit the entire globe, fulfilling the prophecy. (Just “kidding.”)
Put another way: Latinx are 17.3% of the population in this country. Having one director of Latinx descent on a list of 30 equals 3.33%. It’s simply not enough.
We can hear the question now:
“So why don’t you make your own list of Latinx directors, Mitú?”
- We totally did.
- The reality is, change cannot possibly be made if only Latinx outlets (like yours truly) champion Latinx artists. It is possible to be a Latinx who does not necessarily or solely seek out Latinx-specific stories, and it is possible for a story that deals with specifically Latinx themes, experiences and cultural touch points to be covered, shared, crtiqued, and heralded by non-Latinx. No meaningful change can be made if the work of seeking out and supporting Latinx artists is kept within an echo chamber.
So make things. And tell people about the great things you make. Tell people about the things other Latinx make that you enjoy. And hold people accountable when they don’t do the work of championing Latinx talent.