If you’re a fan of the Oscars (like I am), then you are probably VERY familiar with the #OscarsSoWhite controversy that dominated the social media conversation during the 2015 and 2016 Academy Awards. People were mad, rightly so, because black actors and films that focused on black characters were completely overlooked in all of the major Oscar nomination categories. In order to diversify, last year the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences set a record for the most black acting nominees (six!) in any previous year, according to The New York Times.
We can all agree that this means a HUGE win for diversity in Hollywood… But, unfortunately, it is still not enough. According to that same The New York Times story, there is still one minority group in Hollywood that is the most underrepresented onscreen: Latinos. For any one of us that loves movies and entertainment, you will probably not be surprised to hear the shockingly terrible statistics of seeing Latino or Hispanic actors onscreen: We make up only 3.1% of characters in film, despite making up 18% of the U.S. population (or 60 million people).
Furthermore, out of the top 100 films in 2016, 72 had no Hispanic/Latina females. Meanwhile, out of the top 168 top grossing films in 2015, only 3 had Latinos in lead actor roles, 5 had Latino directors, and only 4 had Latino writers. And when we look at the Oscars, the numbers are depressing: Only one Hispanic man has ever on the Best Actor Oscar (José Ferrer in 1951) and the last Hispanic/Latinx actor to win an Oscar was Penélope Cruz in 2009. The last Hispanic acting nominees were in 2012, Demián Bichir and Bérénice Bejo, respectively.
Unfortunately, these numbers are not expected to change this year. Although some minority hopefuls include Vietnamese-American Hong Chau of Downsizing and black actors Daniel Kaluuya of Get Out and Mary J. Blige of Mudbound, no Latinx actors are expected to be nominated when the 90th Academy Awards announcement happens tomorrow morning.
Some in Hollywood aren’t taking the news lying down, however. At Sunday’s Screen Actors Guild Awards, Gina Rodriguez called out Hollywood for lacking Latinx representation in films, according to Glamour.
“Yay, Sony, for putting a Latino in the lead, because barely people do that,” she said while looking at the camera. “I mean, we do make $50 million plus for the country—no big deal—you should throw us in a movie or two, it would make sense. We do buy 1 in every 4 tickets every single weekend and make sure that your movies do well. So it would do you a service. And not only service, it would be—I don’t know—integrity. So thank you, Paramount and Sony, you’re driving the game, you’re doing it. You’re opening the doors.”
In an interview with Glamour on the red carpet, she added: “I believe it is a movement and not just a moment,” she said when asked about her #TimesUp pin. “We all need to get on our platforms and speak positively through the movement itself. For me, we talk about inclusivity, but Latinos are still super underrepresented in our community, in our industry. We make up 1 in 4 tickets bought at the box office every weekend, we are holding every movie up, so we should be included in those movies as well. From European Latinos to Afro-Latinos, we come in all shapes and sizes and colors and backgrounds and political expressions, and I think it’s important for us to express and explore the complexities of the Latino demographic, because we are loyal consumers, and we deserve the same respect we give to all these industries.”
Amen, Gina! We can only hope that Hollywood begins to listen.