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Study: Hollywood Still Not Hiring Latino Directors

Less than 4% of film producers and storytellers in the U.S. are of Latino descent.

According to a 2020 report published by the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism (USC Annenberg) regarding diversity in popular films, top films have been minimalizing the influence of Latino actors, directors, and writers.

This is in contrast to the growing presence of Latinos in the U.S. With 18 percent of the population in the U.S. now of Latino descent, there is a greater need to represent Latinos in the film industry. And while negative stereotypes represent the majority of Latino roles in film, another concern is how the Latino presence in film has been decreasing the past few years.

Another way to see this is in terms of what the USC Annenberg study calls the “erasure of diversity” in film. For example, of the top 100 grossing films in 2019, female characters of Latino descent did not appear in 71 of those films and the Latino character in general did not appear in 44 of those films.

The report claims that “In comparison to 2015, 2019 decreased the erasure of Black, Asian and Multiracial/Multiethnic girls and women on screen and increased erasure of Hispanic/Latino girls and women.”

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Also according to the USC Annenberg report, less than 4 percent of film producers and storytellers in the U.S. are of Latino descent. From 2007 to 2019, about 50 were directors of Latino descent out of close to 1,500 directors. In 2019 alone, there were only 2 directors of Latino descent involved in a major film.

Is it any wonder why Latino actors like John Leguizamo called to boycott the 2020 Emmys? Even the U.S. Congressional Hispanic Caucus took a strong stance on Twitter, saying:

“There is not a single Latino or Latina nominated for The Emmy awards. A demoralizing disappointment for the U.S.’s largest minority group, representing nearly 1-in-5 Americans.”

Some argue that U.S. Latinos already have content through Spanish-language television networks like Univision, Estrella TV, Telemundo, and Azteca. But cultural differences exist among U.S. Latinos and Latinos in other countries.

Also, not all Latinos in the U.S. are fluent in Spanish, making it difficult to become a loyal viewer of a Spanish-language broadcast network in the U.S.

Even with a growing new industry in video streaming services and on-demand broadcasting worth billions of dollars on an annual basis with major providers like Netflix, Disney+, YouTube TV, Apple TV, Amazon Prime, Hulu and HBO Max, it seems Latino consumers are not getting the attention that their purchasing power represents as a whole.

As Hollywood diversifies, and Latinos wait for improvements, we can all help by becoming more aware.

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About the author

Claudia Araiza

Dr. Claudia Araiza has held positions in various capacities in business, academic, and governmental settings ranging from business and economic analysis, business development, academic administration, research, teaching, and online course development. She is a graduate from San Diego State University with a BA degree in International Business and Economics and an MA degree in Economics. She received her PhD in Economics from Claremont Graduate University. She lives in San Diego,California.

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