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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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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!”

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A post shared by America Ferrera (@americaferrera)

“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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