How Film & TV Executives can Strengthen Latinx-Led Stories

Posted by on July 08, 2021

Understanding the media industry business model can reveal the course of action to open doors for minorities. Learn how executives are attempting to boost diversity.  

Despite being the number one consumer of media in the United States, the Latinx community is underrepresented in the Film & TV industry. Across 100 top-grossing films from 2018, there were only 70 Latina characters represented. This disparity is also present in the core production crew, only 7% of the US directors from this list identifying as Latinx ( USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative Study). Behind the scenes, driving to promote inclusion and diversity are the executive producers. Understanding the entertainment industry business model is at the foundation to boost Latinx talent in productions. 

In this article, we will explain the role of Film & TV executives, how they can bring real representation of Latinx stories, and the path to success when pitching a project.  

What is the role of an executive producer and why it matters for your project

The responsibilities of a studio executive are to make the important decision of selecting which productions are greenlit for production. They work within the corporate structure of the company they represent, and monitor what ideas audiences will be receptive towards while aligning with the company brand. The executive producer works directly with the key stakeholders of studios such as the board of directors and the Chief Executive Officer. 

The role of the executive producer is to scout ideas and talent, and oftentimes aid in developing the idea from conception to execution. They are heavily involved in the development, financing, production and distribution of film and television content. As a creative it is vital we understand how the studios organizational structure functions in order to get more of our projects greenlit. 

The executive room has historically been predominantly a space dominated by white voices. However, with the strides media organizations such as NALIP have been implementing to advance the careers of emerging Latinx professionals, we are witnessing a time of record breaking executive roles being filled with members of the Latinx community. 

In an upcoming panel discussion at NMS21 with Trailblazing Executives moderated by Kelly Edwards, we meet three strong women making moves in some of the largest media organizations in the country. Mrs. Edwards, a Writer/Producer at HBO described the journey within the corporate media industry as a “Never ending rollercoaster ride”. As an experienced professional she shares her experience in corporate media in her upcoming book “The Executive Chair” releasing on October 5th, 2021. 

How executives can accelerate the careers of Latinx creatives  

Originally a stage manager before her transition into the movie business, Bianca Quesada is currently the Head of Development for Zone One Productions. Her previous roles at CAA and STARZ allowed her a unique perspective into the Film & TV industry. She realized the power of her high-level position in championing more Latinx content “Can we be true advocates for this project, because I have to pick up the phone and convince the executive on the other side that this is the story.” By allowing more Latinx voices in the room where it happens we can create more auteurs like Lin Manuel Miranda. 

During her five year run as Director of Development for Warner Brothers at Stage 13, Christine Davila was able to identify the points of disconnection. She is interested in “How do we set them up for success” which she discovered lies in understanding the business model in order to be innovative and disruptive. To Davila it was not just a moral imperative but an offer of social currency to media companies to continue growing their reach, and overall display better business practices. 

A previous manager at Netflix overseeing Spain & Latin America, Adriana Martinez Barron has worked with Sofia Vergara and Eugenio Derbez respective production companies. Barron is excited to see the industry evolve as she observes a conscious shift towards including more latinx in executive positions. The advantage of diverse executives at the highest level is the ability to plug into the network of Latinx creatives they already possess. 

Key Takeaways

For Christine in her current role as Head of Production at Ojalá Productions working with Latinx writers is non-negotiable. She notes how we have only seen a sliver of the diversity of the Latinx diaspora. Tapping into the diaspora and amplifying Afro-Latinx and Indigenous perspectives is one of her priorities. 

Adriana 8 years ago came to her first NALIP event, and found a sense of community. Christine Davila expressed how in NALIP you find so much ‘ganas’ to actually do the work. You can see a person as a speaker, learn about them, target them and say I’m going to work with you one day.

“Never before has there been a breath of executives who have come from companies such as ours who are now at the forefront of helming production companies” - Bianca Quesada 

Witness the full scope of this discussion at the Trailblazing Executives Panel at The 2021 NALIP Media Summit. 

Join the NALIP Media Summit virtually this year from July 19 to July 21 to help boost, connect, and celebrate Latinx industry professionals. The event goes beyond conversations on how to make the industry more inclusive. The summit promotes new projects with exclusive screenings and develops content creators through workshops, mentorship, and networking opportunities. Get your pass here: NALIP Media Summit.