Only 1 Top-Grossing Movie of the Last 12 Years Had a Latina Director
A new study by the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative has found that Latinx representation in Hollywood, both in front of and behind the camera, is so dismal that in many cases it amounts to complete erasure. This likely won't come as a shock to anyone who's watched a mainstream movie recently, but the study's results are still astounding. Examining the 1,200 top-grossing movies from each year between 2007 and 2018, the study found that only 3 percent of films featured a Latinx lead or co-lead. Only 4.5 percent of all speaking characters, lead or otherwise, were Latinx, and 47 percent of the movies examined had no Latinx speaking characters at all.
Even within that small group of speaking characters, representation was problematic. Only five films released between 2014 and 2018 featured a Latinx character from the LGBTQ community, and only 13 out of 400 featured a disabled Latinx character. Of the 17 lead roles that went to Latinas in 12 years, five of them were played by Cameron Diaz. Only two movies featured lead roles for an actress 45 or older; Jennifer Lopez played both. Then there's the data about what those characters actually did for a living — the study found that 24 percent of Latinx speaking characters were criminals, and nearly 62 percent of those law-breaking characters were affiliated with a gang.
Latinx represenation behind the camera was also abysmal, with only 4 percent of the 1,200 movies studied having Latinx directors. Only one of those movies was directed by a Latina — Patricia Riggen, who directed 2007's Under the Same Moon. Only 3 percent of casting directors were Latinx, and only 3 percent of “produced by” credits in the films studied went to Latinx producers.
Actors and directors like Eva Longoria, America Ferrera, Kerry Washington and Ava DuVernay shared their thoughts on the study via social media on Monday. “Here's the point: It's easier to accept the mistreatment and dehumanization of Latinx people when they are invisible in our culture,” Ferrera tweeted. “Hollywood, take responsibility for the stories you reinforce.” Congressman Joaquin Castro also tweeted about the study, writing, “Hollywood misrepresents Latinos. Sadly, it's done as much damage to Americans' perceptions of Latinos as anything you see on Fox News at night or hear at a Trump rally.”
You can read the full study here.