A new report released by the nonprofit advocacy group Latino Donor Collaborative (LDC) finds that Latinos are systematically underrepresented in film and television roles ranging from acting, writing, directing, and producing.
Although Latinos represent 18.7% of the United States’s population as of the 2020 census, only 3.1% of lead roles in television shows feature Latinos, according to LDC’s latest analysis. Only 1.5% of showrunners and less than 1.3% of directors are Latino, a fact that plays a significant role in the lack of on-screen representation of Latino actors. Although shows on streaming channels tend to do better — about 9.3% of characters on these shows are Latino roles — cable and English language broadcast representation lags severely behind, at around 2.3% and 5.4% respectively.
Film suffers from a similar predicament, with only 5% of leads and 2.6% of directors being Latino.
The LDC’s report highlights that even when Latinos are represented, they are portrayed in harmful ways. “A Latino story is rarely told, and the very few times it is, they are mostly portrayed as drug dealers, criminals, or tied to other negative stereotypes,” the report reads. For instance, of those select shows that featured a Latino actor in the lead role, the authors determined that over half of them depicted Latinos in a negative light — casting them in “inaccurate” roles that “conveyed a message that U.S. Latinos tend to be gang members, become drug dealers, or ultimately steal opportunities from U.S. born Anglo-Americans.”
Latino Donor Collaborative is a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank that seeks to improve perceptions of Latinos in American culture through “confronting stereotypes with data,” co-founded by former San Antonio Mayor Henry Cisneros and businessman Sol Trujillo. The organization has previously issued surveys of Latinos in the tech industry and studies on the economic contributions Latinos make in the United States, among others.
The report notes that traditional entertainment will lose out to platforms like YouTube and TikTok if younger viewers do not resonate with what they see in movies and TV.
The report’s findings confirm those that have been reached by university research groups at the University of California Los Angeles, the University of Southern California, and Columbia University, and associations such as the National Hispanic Media Coalition, the National Association of Latino Independent Producers, the Directors Guild of America, and the Writers Guild of America. A survey of these studies conducted by the Los Angeles Times last year found that little headway in on-screen representation had been made over the past decade for Latinos despite being one of the most rapidly expanding communities in the US.
In recent years, actors and directors have also come under fire for inadequately representing particular Latino communities. Earlier this year, Spanish actor Javier Bardem caused controversy for playing the role of a Cuban man in Aaron Sorkin’s Being the Ricardos. Last year, musical drama In the Heights, directed by Jon M. Chu and written in part by Lin-Manuel Miranda, faced criticism for casting predominantly light-skinned actors despite telling a story about Washington Heights, a largely Afro-Dominican neighborhood.
“To be able to evolve with the audience, and succeed in this disruptive market, accurate representation is a priority,” the LDC report stresses.
Bobby Wilson Combats Indigenous Stereotypes Through Humor
The artist-performer’s career undulates, ever so gracefully, across multiple mediums and registers of generational pain, healing laughter, and Indigenous joy.
Rare 19th-Century Silhouette Album’s Secrets Unlocked
Traveling portrait artist William Bache’s album depicts famous figures like Thomas Jefferson as well as people whose identity was previously unknown.
Nevada Museum of Art Presents Adaline Kent: The Click of Authenticity
For the first time in nearly 60 years, the innovative yet under-recognized artist is the subject of a retrospective exhibition. On view in Reno, Nevada.
Artists Show What They Can Do With a Google Phone’s Camera
Works by 20 photographers are now on view in Manhattan for the seventh season and 100th project coming out of the Google Creator Labs.
Met Museum Kicked Me Out for Praying to My Ancestral Gods
My danced prayer to looted Cambodian antiquities was too much for the New York museum.
The Public Theater in NYC Presents Plays for the Plague Year
Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks’s theatrical concert chronicles the 2020 lockdown and the hope and perseverance that emerged from it.
A Museum Guard’s Ode to the Healing Power of Art
In All the Beauty in the World, Patrick Bringley revisits the many ways that art meets life, and life art, and how death is often the bridge between them.
UK Extends Export Ban on Coveted “Portrait of Omai”
London’s National Portrait Gallery was given a few months to acquire the work, which depicts the first Polynesian visitor to the UK.
Mondays at Pratt Institute: Weekly Openings of Work by Graduating Artists
Free and open to the public, Pratt Shows celebrate the school’s graduating students. MFA and BFA work on view this spring in Brooklyn, New York.
The Sculptor Making Art With Loved Ones’ Ashes
Inspired by the three-year anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic, Julian Stair’s exhibition honors the lives of eight people with cinerary jars.
Art Institute of Chicago Under Scrutiny Over Sacred Nepali Necklace
The 17th-century object remains on display at the Chicago museum despite Nepal’s calls for repatriation.
LSU School of Art Grants Highest MFA Stipends in the Southern US
With funded assistantships, full tuition waivers, and generous stipends, Louisiana State University helps students lay the groundwork for a successful lifelong art practice.
Art Problems: How Do I Get a Public Art Commission?
Want to leave a mark on your city or town, but don’t know where to start? Paddy Johnson has some tips.
Rose B. Simpson Embeds Ancestral Histories in Clay
She has taken clay and used it to recall its ancestral roots in Pueblo culture and address the present history of postcolonial recovery and ongoing trauma.