Latina Actresses Are Pivoting to Directing and Producing In Order to Get More Latinx Stories Told
The numbers are bleak. Latinos make up 18% of America’s population but only 5% of the number of speaking roles in movies in 2019 according to the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative.
Hollywood seems to be late to the party when it comes to Latino representation onscreen. But luckily, there are a handful of Latino artists and creators out there who are taking the fight to appear in front of the screen to behind the camera.
Take, for example, Eva Longoria, who was just announced to be directing and co-starring in the new action-comedy film, “Spa Day”
This marks the third movie the Mexican-American actress will be helming and the first Latina to ever direct more than one major studio film.
The other films on Longoria’s roster include a vehicle for her and Kerry Washington tentatively titled “24/7”, as well as the upcoming biopic “Flamin’ Hot”–a movie centered around Richard Montañez, the man who invented Flaming Hot Cheetos.
Longoria has been candid about how the decision to move into directing and producing has been a strategic one.
“One of the reasons I went into producing and directing was I wasn’t going to sit back and wait for somebody to create a role I wanted to do,” Longoria told Variety in 2018.
“You can’t just sit around waiting for [good projects], and I wanted to create that — not just for myself but for other Latinas.”
But her career transition isn’t unique as a Latina in Hollywood. She has joined the ranks of other Latinas in Hollywood who have began to produce and direct their own projects in order to finally see Latino stories told on screen.
Her peers include Jennifer Lopez (“Shades of Blue“, “Hustlers“), Selena Gomez (“Living Undocumented“), America Ferrera (“Gentefied“, “Superstore“), Gina Rodriguez (“Diary of an American President,” “Carmen San Diego“), and Salma Hayek (“Ugly Betty”).
All of these women have thrown their weight behind projects that otherwise wouldn’t be made if their names weren’t attached to them.
All of these women are creating stories that feature Latino stories and Latino talent–in front of and behind the camera.
America Ferrera explained the reason behind her conscious career pivot from acting to directing/producing: “My genuine heart’s desire is to tell stories that haven’t been told,” she told CBS This Morning. “It’s hard to get stories about people like us made. And then to get those stories told by us is very very uncommon.”
Although the endgame is to have Latinx stories greenlit without having to first be a famous singer or actress, the work these ladies are doing might be laying the foundation for an easier road for future industry players of Latino descent. Or as Longoria so eloquently put it: “If we unite and create opportunities for each other and pull each other up, there could be a lot more success for representation on TV.”
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