Image Courtesy of IMBD
LOS ANGELES -With awards season kicking off with the Emmy’s in September and the Golden Globes earlier in January, the topic of diversity and inclusion has again resurfaced to permeate the conversations surrounding Hollywood; specifically its lack of representation at this season’s high profile award events. Coming from the previous break out moment from the hashtag “#OscarsSoWhite” these conversations have now sparked a discussion around Latinos in the industry and the lack there of on screen and behind the camera.
This year’s Oscar nominations begs the question of whether or not there is enough representation across the entire spectrum of underrepresented communities. There are notable Latino favorites leading the race, such as The Shape of Water being nominated in 13 categories including Best Director and Best Picture, and Coco, a fan favorite for Best Animated Feature.
If Latinos have buying power, why don't we see them on screen and behind the camera?
Considering that Latinos have comparable buying power, being that they consist of 1 in 4 ticket buyers in the United States, it is surprising to see the scarcity of Latinos being nominated throughout this year’s award season. Instead of seeing this issue stemming straight from the award season, one must take a step back and start by looking at the development process behind the industry. It is not the lack of talent from our community, as one can see Latinos constantly winning big at awards through the recent years. It is the lack of power in the decision-making process, a lack of knowledge of the entertainment ecosystem, and a lack of support from media organizations.
As the 2017 Hollywood Report by UCLA states, Hollywood's diversity problems begin at the very top of the studios and networks, in the executive suites where decisions are made about what gets made and with what size production and marketing budget.
“There is a clear disconnect between Latino talent and the decision-making process that moves these projects and careers forward. This access starts in early in the tracking, development, and training process from having knowledge about the general entertainment ecosystem and support to move their career forwards, and right now, Latinos are not set on a pathway to succeed in this industry,” says Ben Lopez, Executive Director of NALIP. “It is imperative that the industry invests in the Latino community to have a profound impact by providing the resources to invest and transform the face of the industry for the better. An increase in the makeup of representation will also mean an increase in ROI and the bottom line for the industry.”.
Viable Solutions: Collaboration & Active Programming
We recognize and appreciate the effort made by The Academy of Motion Picture Arts to increase diversity in the house over the past several years. Seeing the issue and being proactive, in early 2017 The Academy invited over 700 new members to join their membership list. The invitees come from 57 countries, the organization says in unveiling its list, with the list comprising 39% female and 30% people of color (POC), both numbers increasing overall totals in those categories which has been a focus of AMPAS over the past couple of years. Especially their efforts in launching their Gold Talent Development and Inclusion Program aimed at giving diverse students an opportunity for an industry-wide internship program. In having these collaborations with other entertainment companies and digital organizations, the issue of lacking diversity is not only addressed in the ecosystem but brought a solution and access to an otherwise impermeable system.
NALIP Executive Director, Ben Lopez speaking of about diversity at the "Transforming the Portrayal of Underrepresented Communities" at Sundance, 2018
The goal of organizations such as NALIP, The National Association of Latino Independent Producers, is to bring light to the lack of representation across the industry while making a difference by creating various opportunities and programs for diverse voices. NALIP’s mission is to nurture, incubate, and develop those Latinos who will be working behind the camera in order to be able to put more Latinos in front of it and on the screen.
Although we still have a long ways to go in terms of equal representation we look forward to collaborating with our sister organizations, agencies, studios, networks, and the community at large and move the needle forward towards a more inclusive entertainment ecosystem.
2018 Latino Oscar nominations:
“The Shape of Water”
“The Shape of Water,” Guillermo del Toro
Best Foreign Language Film:
“A Fantastic Woman” (Chile)
“Coco,” Lee Unkrich, Darla K. Anderson
“Ferdinand,” Carlos Saldanha
“The Shape of Water,” Guillermo del Toro, Vanessa Taylor
“Remember Me” from “Coco,” Kristen Anderson-Lopez, Robert Lopez
“The Shape of Water,” Luis Sequeira