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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.

And yet…

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…

Credit: Disney

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.

Credit: NBC

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?”

Credit: Andrew Walker / Vimeo, via Gizmodo
  1. We totally did.
  2. 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.


READ: These 2 Latinas Run Hollywood, Can Run The World

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Sasha Calle Is Officially The DC Universe’s First-Ever Latina Supergirl

Entertainment

Sasha Calle Is Officially The DC Universe’s First-Ever Latina Supergirl

The DC Universe just got a heck of a lot more Brown.

This week, it was announced that 25-year-old actress Sasha Calle is poised to be the franchise’s newest superstar. Known for portraying Lola Rosales on “The Young and the Restless,” the actress will take on the role of Supergirl in the DC film franchise.

Her first appearance as Supergirl expected to debut in the upcoming movie “The Flash.”

Calle, who is of Colombian heritage, is set to become the first Latina ever to play the role of Supergirl.

Calle earned her first breakout role in 2018 after being cast in the long-running CBS daytime drama “The Young & The Restless” as a food truck owner and the youngest sister of brothers in the midst of a toxic rivalry.

Calle earned a Daytime Emmy nomination in the Outstanding Young Performer in a Drama Series category last year for her part in the series.

“On behalf of everyone at ‘The Young and the Restless,’ we’d like to congratulate Sasha Calle on making history and being chosen to play the first Latina Supergirl,” the daytime drama’s executive producer Anthony Morina and co-executive producer/head writer Josh Griffith shared in a statement. “The role of Supergirl is a perfect fit for someone of Sasha’s immense talent, and we wish her all the best as she takes on this groundbreaking role.”

According to Deadline, Calle beat out 425 actresses for the part of Supergirl.

Andy Muschietti director of The Flash gave Calle the good news about her role over Zoom.

“Can I freak out for a second?” Calle asked before announcing the news to someone offscreen. “I got it,” she said to the person off-camera while doing a dance in her chair. Turning back to Muschietti, Calle admitted “I’m probably not going to stop crying all day.”

Calle shared the moment to her Instagram admitting she was still processing the big news.

“A Latina superhero?!” Calle wrote of the news in Spanish. “On what planet?! Well, on this planet! What joy and what pride.” Thanking her mom, Calle wrote, “I adore you with everything I have. You are an example of a superhero.”

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Filmmaker’s Short Documentary Shines A Light On Woman Who Fought For Cuban Revolution

Entertainment

Filmmaker’s Short Documentary Shines A Light On Woman Who Fought For Cuban Revolution

Filmmaker Celina Escher wanted to capture a historic moment in the Caribbean through the eyes of someone you might not expect. As an assignment from the Escuela Internacional de Cine y TV (EICTV), Escher was tasked with finding a compelling character to cover. Her response was a woman who fought for the Cuban revolution and her excitement for President Barack Obama’s historic visit to Cuba in a film titled “Verde Olivo.” CiNEOLA is bringing the short documentary to the U.S. audience to have a peek into this historic moment.

“Verde Olivo” captures one of Cuba’s most historic moments through the eyes of a revolutionary soldier.

Escher wanted to speak to someone from the Cuban Revolution because of the influence it had on her own home country: El Salvador. The filmmaker wanted to see the people who encouraged the guerilla fighters she learned about growing up. Her search led her to Teresa, a woman who fought for the revolution and has maintained her unwavering support for Fidel Castro and his vision.

“When I met Teresa we spoke about her life and the woman’s role in the Cuban Revolution. On one occasion, Teresa mentioned that she needed to repair her television for the arrival of Obama,” Escher says. “It was a historical moment for Cubans, and especially for Teresa who had devoted her life to the revolution. I was inspired by her and it was then I began to film Teresa’s preparation process.”

Escher appreciated that Teresa and her husband were getting their television repaired in order to watch President Obama’s visit. Cubans are known for maintaining old cars and appliances because of the scarcity of stuff available on the island.

“In Cuba, what is broken is repaired. The Cuban people don’t throw away what is broken and replace it with a new one, like most other western consumerist societies,” Escher says. “Cubans found a way to survive and thrive despite the U.S. embargo. In this precarious situation, the Cubans have been forced to be creative, to repair and recycle.”

“Verde Olivo” shows the resilience of some in Latin America to retain socialist ideals.

The documentary, according to Escher, is important to highlight the strength some in Latin America have maintained against “U.S. imperialism.” Despite the U.S. embargo, life has continued to go on in Cuba after the revolution.

“There have been numerous U.S. military interventions and coups d’etat throughout Latin America where left wing leaders have been replaced with authoritarian military regimes,” Escher says. “There are 76 U.S. military bases in Latin America and the Caribbean with the purpose of securing their economic and political interests. It’s remarkable how Cuba managed to survive all the aggressions and violence.”

The civil war in El Salvador is a strong example for Escher. She grew up knowing of the violent civil war the killed tens of thousands of Salvadorans. The civil war was funded in part by the U.S. government and adds to the overall narrative of U.S.-backed coup d’etats in Latin America.

President Obama’s visit was a wonderful experience while on the island.

Escher remembers that the island was electric as the Cuban people waited for President Obama’s arrival. He was the first president to visit the island in decades and created a renewed hope in cooperation between the two countries.

“It was as if a superstar was arriving. The streets of Havana were cleaned, streets were closed for his arrival, and overall the Cubans were very excited,” Escher recalls. “First of all it was the first U.S. President to arrive in Cuba since 1928, and it happened to be the first Black U.S. President. There has never been a Black president or comandante in Cuba which added to the excitement of many Cubans.”

Despite the visit, many of the Cuban people remained frustrated and disappointed with the overall impact. Escher spoke with Teresa, and her husband Orlando, after the visit. The couple has soured a bit on the visit because the embargo remained and Guantanamo Bay remained occupied.

You can watch the full documentary through CiNEOLA here.

READ: Cuban Embassy Reopens. Cigars, Protests and Food Ensue

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