People Are Calling For A Boycott Of Paramount Studios Because Of Their Severe Lack Of Latino Representation

credit: nhmc_org / Instagram

Latino leaders are calling for a boycott of Paramount Studios, singling out the company for an industry-wide lack of Latino representation in movies. The National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC) organized the boycott after it conducted its own study and reviewed UCLA’s “Hollywood Diversity Report.” The NHMC announced that, in partnership with the National Latino Media Council, it would “target Paramount Pictures for their lack of Latino actors, writers, and directors,” which includes a social media campaign, demonstrations and a general boycott of upcoming Paramount films. The studio is being boycotted because it has a failed track record to include Latino talent both in front and behind the camera in recent years.

Twenty of Paramount’s 100 top-grossing films in 2016-17 had seven Latinos out of 160 of the top eight credited actors, one Latino director and zero Latino writers.

NHMC’s President & CEO Alex Nogales said that for years the number of Latinos in Paramount films has gone down and the lack of representation is being felt beyond just movies.

“A UCLA study was released this year on the numbers of Latinos being featured in films and the numbers sickened me,” Nogales said. “If it isn’t that we’re criminals or rapists its something else. If you don’t see yourself on film and television these impressions stick. We’re the most vulnerable in our country right now.”

Nogales’s goal is to persuade the studio to agree to a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with various organizations outlining how Paramount can improve inclusivity in its films. NHMC and NLMC met with Paramount COO Andrew Gumpert in June to discuss a potential MOU. According to the NHMC, Gumpert told Nogales three weeks later that he would not sign the MOU.

Despite buying 24 percent of all tickets sold between 2007 and 2016, Latino actors only appeared in 3.1 percent of the speaking roles in front of camera.

Nogales says the NHMC already has MOU’s with studios like ABC, NBC, CBS and FOX that are willing to work with organizations to improve inclusivity. When asked about how he felt when Paramount didn’t agree to the MOU he said it didn’t come as a surprise and was prepared to boycott the studio.

“I thought we were closer to doing a deal but we were prepared also to take on the studio,” Nogales said. “If they’re not going to work with us we’re gonna boycott their products and their films. We are going to harm their bottom line period.”

The studio boycott follows NHMC’s protests against the Oscars last winter, when Nogales told The Hollywood Reporter that the Academy Awards would be the first of “increasingly aggressive wake-up calls to Hollywood studios to end institutionalized racism against Latinos.”

Paramount issued a statement about the boycott saying they are still trying to “build and strengthen relationships with the Latinx creative community further.”

“We recently met with NHMC in a good faith effort to see how we could partner as we further drive Paramount’s culture of diversity, inclusion and belonging,” a Paramount spokesperson told Deadline. “Under our new leadership team, we continue to make progress — including ensuring representation in front of and behind the camera in upcoming films such as Dora the Explorer, Instant Family, and Limited Partners — and welcome the opportunity to build and strengthen relationships with the Latinx creative community further.”

“I don’t believe it,” Nogales says. “I think it’s all good words but if you don’t have it in writing it really means nothing.”

Both groups are planning a demonstration August 25 in front of Paramount studios to deliver a petition.

They plan to rally in front of Paramount Studios bringing attention to their lack of diversity in their workforce. The groups are currently sharing a petition to have Paramount Studios include more Latinos in their films and will be asking more organizations to sign on. One of the findings from the NHMC poll study revealed that most Latinos “are willing to take action and flex their purchase power by reducing or boycotting altogether movies from studies that lack representation.”

“Half of all respondents (51 percent) would either reduce or stop watching movies from the worst offending studio altogether,” the survey found, and “two out of five Latinos (41 percent) would talk with friends about their concerns.” The poll results showed that “25 percent report being willing to write a letter,” while one in eight (13 percent) said they would be willing to protest.

Nogales believes Latino representation needs to be addressed because of the importance these roles play in how we all view ourselves.

“The studios inaction demonstrate civil rights violations,” Nogales said. “This isn’t rocket science if you have consumer power behind a movement it will pay off. It might not happen today but one day it will.”


READ: Maya Cinemas Is The Latino-Owned Movie Theater Chain Bringing Latino Stories To Underserved Latino Neighborhoods

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