The New Bechdel Test, Are Latina’s Accurately Portrayed?

Posted by on January 05, 2018

Image Courtesy of FiveThirtyEight

In talking about representation in film, The Bechdel Test raises the question of women’s roles & portrayals: Does the movie have at least two named female characters? And do those characters have at least one conversation that is not about a man? Unfortunately, many films fail the test to address the inequalities in Hollywood films.

After reading over The Next Bechdel Test by FiveThirtyEight, NALIP asked past #WeAreInclusion feature Ligiah Villalobos her thought’s on creating a test focusing on Latinas in film.

“When I was asked to contribute to "The Next Bechdel Test" survey that FiveThirtyEight was working on, my conversation with them shifted more towards Latina characters in films and they decided to do a specific survey with the questions I suggested.  The results of my particular test/survey make it clear how little effort the film industry has made to even include Latina characters in their development process.  They must do better.  We must demand better.”


Tests that look beyond white women

When women do get a break in Hollywood, they tend to be white. One study found that among the female leads and co-leads in the top 100 films6 of 2016, only three were members of an underrepresented racial or ethnic group. And that figure was identical to the 2015’s. Young girls of color have a difficult time finding movie characters who look like them.

“I feel like we all deserve that,” said Lena Waithe, the actress, and Emmy Award-winning writer. “Everybody deserves to see positive — not positive, I’m not a big fan of that word — but accurate and layered and complex images of themselves.”


Image Courtesy of FiveThirtyEight

These tests ask if films incorporate women of color at any level. In writer and actress Naomi Ko’s test, it’s as simple as looking for a non-white, English-speaking woman who talks in five or more scenes. In Waithe’s test, it’s about a balanced portrayal. About 18 percent of the country is Hispanic or Latino, but Hollywood failed a simple test, from producer and writer Ligiah Villalobos, that looks for Latinas in film.

Image Courtesy of FiveThirtyEight

“It is incredibly disappointing,” said Villalobos, “that we are at the end of 2017, that this country has over 50 million Latinos, and that these are the numbers relating to Latina characters in films.” Read more at FiveThirtyEight. 

NALIP's mission is to support inclusion and advance accurate representation both on and off-screen in media. Join us in supporting women of color directors, producers, and writers as we launch our Diverse Women in Media Incubator that will actively support women of color in media and their careers. For more information, click here