Hollywood has a major issue with Latinx representation. We aren’t considered for “mainstream” roles, and also aren’t trusted to tell our own stories. Recently, it was announced that James Franco would be playing Fidel Castro in the film Alina of Cuba. This was after Gordita Chronicles, a beloved show about a Dominican girl who moved to Miami in the 1980s, was canceled after only 10 episodes. This leaves us wondering what Latinxs need to do to succeed in yet another system that wasn’t designed for us. Luckily, we have the insight of Latinx leaders, sharing what needs to happen for our community to start succeeding in Hollywood. Check out their words of wisdom below.
John Leguizamo Calls For More Inclusion in Hollywood
John Leguizamo has long been an outspoken proponent of more Latinxs succeeding in Hollywood. On his Instagram, you can often watch his self-proclaimed “rants” on important topics, including the constant shunning of Latinxs during awards season. In this IG post from 2020, Leguizamo shares an article stating that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is calling for there to be an “inclusion standard form” for films wanting to be considered for Best Picture. He went on to comment:
“Hey, it may not be enough, but it’s the best any one [sic] has put forth! Now we need studios, networks, streamers, publishers, newspapers, and corps to follow! Yay! This is the great America I always knew we could be!”
Eva Longoria Is Building a Bridge to Younger Generations
To help more Latinxs start succeeding in Hollywood, Eva Longoria has taken it upon herself to create the Latinx content that is missing on television. In addition to acting, the Tejana has also directed and produced shows, including Grand Hotel, Devious Maids, Telenovela, and Gordita Chronicles. In 2021, Longoria alongside other celebs announced they were partnering with the Los Angeles Unified School District to create a school that teaches teens about the movie industry, building a bridge to students, including Latinxs, who wouldn’t normally get access to Hollywood.
Gina Torres Produces Her Own Content in Hollywood
Latinxs have a difficult time getting air time on television and in film, but it’s only harder for Afro-Latinxs. We can thank racism and narrow assumptions of what Latinxs are for this disparity. We don’t see Black Latinxs representing Latinxs on screen, and that’s a major issue. Afro-Cuban Gina Torres has spoken out about this erasure in the televised roundtable discussion The Culture is: Latina and on the podcast Brown & Black. Her response to Hollywood? To let people know that she is proudly both Black and Latina. To hold it down for Afro-Latinas on television. And to produce her own content, such as the “bilingual audio telenovela series” Princess of South Beach.
America Ferrera Wants Us to Tell Our Own Stories and Get Behind the Camera
How do we make sure that Latinx narratives are not only portrayed on screen, but done so authentically? We have to tell them ourselves! That’s the message America Ferrera shared while a guest on The View. Speaking on why she loves Gentefied (another great Latinx show canceled too soon), which she directed, Ferrera mentioned the importance of Latinxs telling our own stories and getting behind the camera to make sure it’s done right too.
Ozzie Areu Bought His Own Movie Studio to Help Latinxs
You can’t be afraid to dream too big in Hollywood–even if you’re Latinx. Cuban-American Ozzie Areu started as a security guard at Warner Bros., where he became close to stars including Jennifer Aniston, Brad Pitt, and Tyler Perry. Perry ended up hiring Areu as his Executive Assistant, later promoting the Latino to President of Tyler Perry Studios. When the opportunity came up to buy the property from Tyler, Areu dreamt big and made the move. This made him the first Latinx to own a major film studio, certainly showing one way Latinxs are succeeding in Hollywood. But the win isn’t just for Ozzie; he made it a point in this interview with Larry King to mention that Areu Bros. Studios will be focusing on telling the stories of more women and Latinxs.
Gloria Calderón Kellett Wants Us to Be the Change We Want to See
Love the Latinx shows One Day at a Time, Jane the Virgin, and Devious Maids? Well, then, you should be thanking Gloria Calderón Kellett. The producer, writer, and actress has worked on all of these shows, as well as many others. And here’s what she has to say about it:
“I knew… if I was going to see any change or be a part of any change in my lifetime, I was going to have to hold the pen. And the moment I made that adjustment, the world started to open.”
“The biggest thing is nothing about us without us. If you’re going to make one of our stories integral to your show or use it as a way of getting picked up because this is a moment when people understand that representation is important, have one of us in there baked into creating that show, so that you’re doing the job of representation behind the camera as well as in front of the camera. I think it makes a big difference. You can tell when you’re watching it if it’s honest or not.”