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Hollywood’s Latin ambitions reach new heights

It’s March and some of Hollywood’s most accomplished Latinx voices are debriefing two recent reports on an old problem. One, led by the Directors Guild of America, found encouraging gains for black directors, but a lack of progress among Latinxes and directors of color, who “continued to be seriously under-represented.” .
The other was from Netflix, which in a rare move commissioned a study of its own content, with grim conclusions for the Latinx community. “In movies and series, few Netflix stories focused on the Latinx cast and even fewer benefited from the creative vision of Latinx storytellers behind the camera. These results are problematic, given that Latinos are the largest ethnic group. minority in the United States and probably a large part of Netflix’s audience, ”the study says. These findings led to a significant company investment in supporting creators and artists from under-represented communities, which was announced in conjunction with the report.

What those two docs told them is something they already know in their hearts and on their resumes: the industry is running out of Latinx creatives.

“I’m so tired,” said one person. “Very, very tired.”

Peter Murrieta, executive producer of “Mr. Iglesias” on Netflix, who recently signed a prominent deal with Universal Television, was in attendance.

“I absolutely think their frustration is justified,” he told CNN.

He knows it because he felt it too. He has directed three TV shows, overseen hundreds of TV episodes over his decades in business, and has found that the opportunities don’t always match the experience one has.

“As the years add up, you really have to look at what decisions are made, how they are made and you go, there is a problem. There is just a problem.”

There are reasons to be hopeful, of course. In every corner of the industry there are Latinx titans getting the job done and setting the stage for the long-awaited advancements. Seven of them – Carolina Garcia, Gloria Calderón Kellett, Roberto Larios, Alan Luna, Claudia Lyon, Kase Peña and Gina Torres – are featured by CNN as part of this report.
Then there’s the release of “In the Heights,” a film that hopes to be a major spark for change – the “Crazy Rich Asians” of the Latin American community. The film, released in 2018 and also directed by “In the Heights” director Jon Chu, grossed over $ 238 million and has been credited with boosting the profile of its stars and the entire Asian-American community. at Hollywood.

In fact, the film is just a step in the right direction that will hopefully spur bigger and bigger investments in stories about the life of Latinx. Every time a project gets the proper green light and goes beyond the development stage, it creates “an ecosystem so that we can have our future stars, our future star writers, our future star directors,” said Murrieta.

“I think we should celebrate ‘In the Heights’. We’re up there. I think we should show off. I hope people come out, and I hope we show that this is the start for us. to deserve more, ”he said.“ And I think that’s enough because I don’t want to put all the weight of all the hopes and dreams of all of us on one movie. I think it’s not fair for this movie. ”

Gina Reyes, TV literary agent at Verve Talent and Literary Agency, knows this feeling of hope. In 2007, while working as an agent assistant at ICM, she recalls feeling encouraged when she read a story in the entertainment industry publication Variety about a collaboration between MGM and Salma Hayek to produce Latin themed films.

“I remember thinking, ‘Finally! Hollywood is seeing us,'” she said.

Again, it was 2007 “and we are still here”.

Reyes continued to work with Hayek in the early years of his development career and was one of the early champions of “In the Heights,” but the rights went to Universal Pictures and then eventually to Warner Bros. (which, like CNN, is part of WarnerMedia.)

“We’ve all been talking about it at length for years and years and years, but there is still work to be done,” adds Reyes.

Much of this falls on individuals for whom the doors have already been opened. Several Latinx entertainment personalities have described to CNN the efforts they have made as individuals to foster a community of support and mentorship – from helping the work of other aspiring professionals to be. vu or work with young people to foster the next generation of creators. (Reyes is a member of the board of directors of The Unusual Suspects Theater Company, a non-profit organization providing theater arts education to at-risk youth and families, and previously served on the board of directors of Young Storytellers.)

The people are working to make this happen.

Hollywood is slowly following suit, as evidenced by the global agreement of Murrieta and others that have been made with Latinx powers like Calderón Kellett (Amazon Studios), Tanya Saracho (Universal Content Productions), Reed Morano (Amazon Studios) and Steven Canals (20th television).

Maintaining unity is important, however. This is a topic that comes up when I talk to Murrieta about some of the spirited responses that were generated when the term Latinx, which is used throughout this project for its inclusive nature, was used in some recent appeal form. .

“When you give yourself these credentials, they should be things that empower you,” said Murrieta, who touched on the subject on an episode of “Mr. Iglesias”. “If Latinx gives you power, then that should be what you identify with.”

However, it behooves the Latinx community to view other marginalized groups as companions, not competition, Murrieta said.

“I think one of the most damaging things you can do as an individual or as a community is to compare yourself,” he said. “I think in our best lives and at our best, we run our race and we know what our race is. When we’re there and we run these laps, we can look at the people running with us and say, ‘I see this other person running and I want to see if I can be with them and help them. ‘”

The race, if you will, is far from over for any marginalized group. But, rest assured, the Latinx community in Hollywood will continue to function, as they say, con ganas.


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