Representation is a loaded word when it comes to conversations about diversity in casting, especially when it comes Latinos. The latest study from UCLA’s “Hollywood Diversity Report 2018″, shows the huge disparity Latinos experience when it comes to roles behind and in front of the camera. What makes matters even more frustrating is the reports evidence shows audiences tend to prefer movies and TV shows that feature diverse casts. So what gives and what has to change? Here’s a look at the evidence on why Latinos are being left out of the conversation when it comes to representation.
This year, the Oscars showcased the best of what a prospering film industry that includes Latinos could be, or did it?
The feel-good story of this past awards season was Alfonso Cuaróns’ Oscar-winning film “Roma.” The movie centered on a housekeeper of a middle-class family in Mexico City. Despite highpraise, the film received and Cuarón becoming the fifth Mexican in the last six years to win Best Director, the reality for U.S.-born Latinos in Hollywood hasn’t changed.
Latinos account for the largest percent of moviegoers among minorities at 24 percent. Yet when it comes to getting roles, that’s a whole different story. In 2017, Latinos accounted for only 5.2 percent of all roles in the top grossing films. This was hardly an improvement from the previous year which was at 2.7 percent.
When it comes to getting roles on TV shows, it’s the same trend. Latinos accounted for no more than 7 percent of all TV roles when it came to the top shows on broadcast, cable and digital networks.
For those in the industry already, making changes is harder than it looks.
Even when Latino-centered shows like “One Day At A Time” receive critical acclaim, that is rarely enough. This past month news broke that the show has been canceled by Netflix. Despite high praise from critics and fans, the series still has to prove itself.
For independent filmmaker Kenneth Castillo, whose directed seven feature films, making a change in Hollywood is going to take a lot more than a few awards. At a panel discussion called titled “State of Latinos in Hollywood,” hosted by the LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes, Catillo and other Latino media figures spoke about the importance of Latinos in film.
“We are one of the fastest growing minority groups in country and we are still fighting for our films and scripts to be shown to the world,” Castillo said. “That’s not right.”
Castillo says what’s going on with “One Day At A Time” is an unfortunate thing that proves how even when Latinos create great content, at times it’s still not good enough. “I’ve seen this happen time and time again in Hollywood and we need to have some meaningful dialogue about where as Latinos we stand.”
If Latinos are going to see real progress when it comes to representation, they can’t wait for Hollywood to do it first.
There’s no denying that we are entering a new golden age in Mexican cinema with the continued success of Latino directors like Cuaron, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu and Guillermo Del Toro. But it’s a different story when it comes to U.S.-born Latino directors and actors.
Representation is important when it comes to how one sees themselves and how the world perceives them as. As the largest growing minority group in the U.S., Latinos should be near the top of most film studios and getting major roles. But that’s anything but the truth. So this all begs the question, where and how do we see change?
If Latinos are going to see make any progress when it comes to more representation, they’re going to have to do it themselves. Castillo says that Latinos can’t wait for Hollywood to open the gate for more opportunities.
“We have to create our own stories and narratives in this country,” Castillo said. “Grab a camera, write that script and share your own story that Hollywood will never get to tell.”
It’s been about a week since Netflix announced that it will be canceling its widely revered sitcom “One Day at a Time,” leaving cast, crew, and fans reeling from the news. If you’ve seen ODAAT, you’re shocked and confused, too. The show centered on a Cuban-American family, touching topics that few Latino families want to touch (i.e. mental illness, sexuality, alcoholism, and the list goes on).
Esto es lo mejor que hay en la vida
The writers were genius, the storyline perfection and the characters more lovable and relatable than any other Latinos on screen. We’re all mad at Netflix for hooking us with three seasons and denying us more.
Sounds like a personal marketing problem, Netflix.
CREDIT: @Netflix / Twitter
Netflix made the “hard” decision to cancel “One Day at a Time” citing low viewership as the reason. However, as any fan will tell you , and have told you on Twitter, Netflix never tried marketing the show. Many fans didn’t know there were new episodes until they saw the “New Episodes” sticker on the thumbnail.
Twitter came through to hold Netflix’s marketing department accountable.
CREDIT: @7_han_ / Twitter
Thank you for your service, @7_han_. Netflix, do you have a comment? It is really telling that so many other shows get so much attention from Netflix but ODAAT was essentially forgotten and dismissed. Feels a little bit like sabotage.
Plus, Netflix is notoriously secretive about its viewership numbers.
CREDIT: @biaz__ / Twitter
According to president and CEO of the National Hispanic Media Coalition, Alex Nogales, Netflix has often claimed: “that they don’t see numbers.” He told NBC News. “I always find that hard to believe … which one is it? For years, they’ve been saying that they don’t care about numbers and now they do.”
Needless to say, #SaveODAAT has become a grassroots movement.
CREDIT: @_SaveODAAT / Twitter
Netflix is feeling all kinds of pressure right now. We, the fans, made that happen. We exist. Count us as your “viewership,” por favor. #SaveODAAT has received attention from the entire planet. It is clear that people want this show. To chancel, it after not promoting it properly is wrong on so many levels.
Because la gente will take no apology from the streaming service.
CREDIT: @Netflix / Twitter
One user, @DreTerroba put it perfectly:
“Maybe, just maybe, think that the way to continue finding ways to tell these stories is by promoting them more when they’re already there, instead of siloing that outreach for just those who you think may watch. It’s simplistic and tokenistic tbh.”
It seems Lin-Manuel Miranda might just save the day. ?
CREDIT: @Lin_Manuel / Twitter
He has a proven track record of saving Latino-centered shows. Remember when he saved “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” last year from Fox? Boy’s got connections and he’s using them. Also, what are you plotting?! We need to know.
He’s busy snickering secrets with Rita Moreno over dinner.
CREDIT: @TheRitaMoreno / Twitter
?YOU ?CAN’T ?CANCEL ?RITA ?MORENO. We don’t exactly know what is being cooked up by Miranda but we hope it’s juicy. Please make this happen. We could only imagine what this show will look like at another network that wants it to succeed.
Showrunners Gloria Calderón-Kellet and Mike Royce have publicly asked networks to #SaveODAAT.
Calderón-Kellet announced on Twitter, “Good morning networks. I’ve met with you in the past & you’ve said ‘If only we had @OneDayAtATime’ Good news…. we can be yours! We can easily do a reset so that those not familiar with the show will get all the info they need. Call Sony. The fight continues”
Meanwhile, Rotten Tomatoes gave ODAAT two perfect 100 percent ratings for its second and third seasons.
CREDIT: @RottenTomatoes / Twitter
It’s a hit for a reason, and everyone, including its infamous produce Norman Lear is confused. In a statement, Lear said, “I wish I could understand Netflix’s decision to not pick us up for a fourth [season].”
The problem is that Netflix contracts prevent canceled shows from being picked up for at least 2-3 years.
CREDIT: @everythingloria / Twitter
It is truly childish, but we’re seeing nothing but hope and positivity from showrunners and cast alike. Keep it going, fans! People want to see this show and they want to see it wherever they can. Don’t let the show die because of your non-compete, Netflix. Let the fans get the show they want and deserve.
The cast and crew might not be aqble to talk, btu we, the fans, can continue to make noise and pressure the streaming giant to let the show live on.
CREDIT: @MikeRoyce / Twitter
If they don’t want it, fine. But don’t deprive audiences that finally saw themselves represented because you don’t want someone else to have the show. Let is live on a network that will truly care for iandnd give it the publicity it deserves.
To offend Rita Moreno is to offend an *angel*. But Netflix did a great job.
This show didn’t just resonate with Latino audiences. It resonates with American families. We are American families and it is wonderful to see our family on the tv.
Isabella Gomez, on the other hand, was enojada AF.
CREDIT: @isabella.gomez / Instagram
Caption: “All of us last week. ??♀️? HOWEVER, this week is full of hope and possibilities! Game plan: you guys keep tweeting and talking about the show so potential buyers see that people are invested and wanting more seasons and we’ll try to find us a new home! Use #SaveODAAT ??”
And has spent the week eating her feelings.
CREDIT: @Isabella_Gomez / Twitter
Seriously, get in on this #SaveODAAT train and save Isabella Gomez from herself.
Fans are even changing their Twitter names to really commit to saving the show.
CREDIT: @queerstewart @notearsoff / Twitter
What are you doing? Share this article. Share your feelings. Tweet #SaveODAAT and help save ODAAT!
Young Marcel Ruiz, who plays Alex, had a touching message for his fans.
CREDIT: @itsmarcelruiz / Instagram
Caption: “I am very surprised and sad that One Day at a Time is getting canceled and not having a season 4. I always thought this show would go on for many more seasons and that’s why it’s so hard to realize it has come to an end. This show not only taught me so much about acting but also about life and how important family is. This has been a life changing experience that I will always be thankful for being a part of. Thank you to @gloriakellett@mikeroyce @thenormanlear@thebrent_miller @Sony @netflix and all the writers that made this story come to life. Thank you for giving me the opportunity of playing the character of Alex. I will miss this amazingly talented cast who has been the most supportive family since the first day. Thank you to the fans that watched and were proud to be represented on tv, you guys are the best! I hope this show can find a new home, in the meantime we will keep laughing and crying. This was it, this was life, One Day at a Time. #saveodaat
Here’s some inspiring anecdotes to remind you why you’re about to hashtag #SaveODAAT.
CREDIT: @elvendrms / Twitter
Because it’s not closed curtains yet. We don’t know what’s cooking but we know that we can turn up the heat by showing networks that ODAAT is beloved by its fanbase. We fight for what we love.
This show has brought families together in their living rooms all over the world.
CREDIT: @_rafaf / Twitter
If “One Day at a Time” has had any impact on you, the least we can do is show our support. If it’s true that Netflix’s reason fothe r cancellation was low viewership numbers, we can elevate those numbers on social media.
We won’t stop you from calling Netflix and giving them a piece of your mind.
CREDIT: @mooredevitto / Twitter
The truth is that we don’t know exactly what is going on, but the showrunners’ comments allude to something. Call Netflix at 1 (866) 579-7172 and definitely tweet out all the sorrow, joy and rage that ODAAT has given you with #SaveODAAT. Let’s go, familia!
When Luis Octavio, 36, and Gladys Vasquez, 40, met in 2016 they thought of a crazy idea. Both were struggling vendors trying to make a name for themselves but could never find the right event to get their names out there. Octavio sold his line of embroidered hats and balloons, while Vasquez had her graphic design brand.
“When Luis asked me if there was an event solely dedicated to Latino vendors I said ‘No’ and then an idea dawned on us,” Vasquez said. “We asked ourselves, ‘Why isn’t there an event or space catered just for Latino vendors?.”
That crazy idea became a reality this month as both Octavio and Vaquez opened up Molcajete Dominguero Tienda, a retail space in Boyle Heights solely dedicated for Latino vendors to sell their products.
They wanted to create a space for Latino brands to promote and elevate themselves.
Octavio had a marketing background and Vasquez had some experience with accounting, so together they knew they could make this a reality. With only $50 invested from each of them, Molcajete Dominguero Tienda started as a monthly pop-up event on Sundays in 2017. They would host vendors that would sell everything from Latino-inspired jewelry to concha themed pillows.
But everything didn’t start off so smoothly. Initially there was skepticism from vendors about how all this would work. Many didn’t know what to think of their idea of an all-Latino popup event and if their products would even sell.
“We reached out to probably 100 vendors and only 35 responded,” Vasquez said recalling their first popup at Self Help Graphics in Boyle Heights. “We didn’t really know what we were doing and didn’t know if a single person was gonna walk through that door.”
Those fears quickly left as they saw a forming line of about 30 people. By the end, they had well over 450 people attend their first popup event. “We couldn’t believe it and it was in that moment our hard work, in a way, felt validated,” Vasquez said.
Things only went up from there. Octavio and Vasquez began hosting monthly popups across Los Angeles and even in San Francisco. Their brand quickly grew on Instagram and realized they needed a permanent space for their business.
In just two years, they became the largest Latino popup in the country and now have a retail space dedicated to Latino brands.
The vision that Vasquez and Octavio had in 2016 has become a reality. From Selena pillows to Frida Kahlo fanny-packs, Molcajete Dominguero Tienda gives Latino vendors a space to showcase their brands. The name, Molcajete Dominguero, is a play on words from the traditional Mexican stone tool used to grind various food products. It is also a representation of the various vendors they bring together on Sundays at their popups.
Their current database has over 400 vendors from LA to San Francisco that either have their products sold at the store or at popups. Vendors typically pay $150 to have a space at a popup event and get promoted on their Instagram page.
“We feel like this is important to so many people that feel like they don’t see themselves when they go into big retailers,” Octavio said. “We want people to come in here and feel at home. Whether it’s the colorful wall murals, the fresh smell of Fabuloso or the familiar sound of Spanish music playing, we’re trying to create something special.”
Having the store in Boyle Heights is no coincidence. The largely Latino working class community has welcomed and embraced their business.
The location of the store in Boyle Heights has great meaning. Vasquez grew up in East LA and Octavio in Santa Ana, so both know the importance of having a business in a predominant Latino neighborhood. They say that many community members have welcomed them and have been getting regulars at the store already.
“This business is needed especially in a place like Boyle Heights where identity is important,” Octavio said. “These brands need a home and we feel like they found one here in East LA.”
Their grand opening this month was an indicator of their success as well over 500 people showed up. Octavio said there was a line around the block and people waited almost two hours in the rain just to get in.
A local community artist has already left their mark at the store with a mural of Mexican singer Maria Felix. There is already future plans to have two more artists paint murals outside the store. Octavio also hopes to host various workshops that will benefit the youth in the area as well. Earlier this year they hosted a Pinata making workshop and a Loteria night for the community.
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