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Turns out Latinx people are staggeringly underrepresented in Hollywood movies

Only 4.5 percent of speaking roles in the top-grossing 1,200 movies from 2007-2018 went to Latinx performers, according to a new USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative study.

Turns out Latinx people are staggeringly underrepresented in Hollywood movies
(Left to right) Michael Peña, Isabela Moner, and Eva Longoria star in Dora and the Lost City of Gold. [Photo: Vince Valitutt/Paramount Pictures]

A general rule of thumb is that any time the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative releases a study, it’s quite embarrassing for Hollywood.

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A 2018 study revealed that an increase in diversity had brought in bigger box office returns, something the #OscarsSoWhite crowd had been rather vocal in predicting for years. The organization’s latest study, however, homes in on one particular demographic that has been all but ignored in recent years: the Latinx community.

The study takes a close look at the 1,200 major films made between 2007 and 2018 and ends up with some troubling statistics. It seems the disparity between the Latinx community residing in America and that which is depicted on-screen is staggering, with 77% of U.S. states having a Latinx population larger than the percentage seen in top-grossing movies. Adding insult to injury, when Latinx characters aren’t entirely absent, they’re often depicted with negative stereotypes.

Here are some of the study’s more damning statistics:

  • Across the 100 top-grossing movies from 2007-2018, only 3% of films featured leads or co-leads with Latino actors.
  • 4.5% of more than 47,000 speaking or named roles went to Latinx actors. Only 3% were leads or co-leads. This is 13.8 percentage points below U.S. Census figures.
  • Five of the 17 lead actress roles in the films studied were played by Cameron Diaz.
  • Only eight male and 2 female leads, co-leads, or members of an ensemble cast were 45 years of age or older at the time of theatrical release. Both female leads were played by Jennifer Lopez.
  • Out of 200 films examined, 24% of all Latino-speaking characters and 28% of top-billed Latino talent were depicted as lawbreakers across a range of violent and nonviolent crimes. 61.9% of all characters shown engaged in illegal activity were gang members or drug dealers.
  • Of the 100 top-grossing films of 2018, 47 completely lacked a speaking or named character of Latino descent, and 70 lacked Latinas completely. Five hundred sixty-eight of the 1,200 movies studied did not feature even one Latinx character, and 828 completely lacked Latinas.
  • 3% of the producers on these films were Latinx, the majority of which were men, with only 19 being Latina.
  • Only 4% of directors were Latinos out of the 1,335 holding top jobs.
  • Just one of those directors in the 1,335 studied was Latina.

As last year’s major Annenberg study revealed, Hollywood is doing better on diversity and inclusion recently than it had before. But still, Hollywood: Do better.

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