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National Latin American Media Coalition Launches Entertainment Push




National Latin American Media Coalition Launches Entertainment Push

The National Hispanic Media Coalition is launching a campaign to educate Hollywood leaders about the economic value of Latino audiences and the need to get more Latinos into senior positions at all levels of entertainment.

The NHMC, the almost 40-year-old interest group from Washington DC led by Brenda Victoria Castillo, has published a 32-page guide designed as a roadmap for the entertainment industry. Actor Gabriel Luna is among the prominent Latino talents supporting NHMC’s initiative. Castillo is about to make the rounds to senior executives in media and entertainment to press them about the lack of progress for Latinos, especially in the executive suites.

After spending many years in the trenches as a lawyer, Castillo believes there are many misunderstandings about the Latino community.

“I will personally facilitate private, tailor-made sessions tailored to top executives,” says Castillo Variety. “In other words, creating a safe space so that they can ask the questions that they are somewhat afraid of. I want to have authentic conversations with higher-ups. Actually, NHMC is here to connect and collaborate. We are here to ask the industry to join us and create positive change.”

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The NHMC guide explains issues that have been so persistent in front of the camera for Latino actors and behind the camera for other creatives. It also addresses the woeful lack of Latino representation in decision-making roles at major networks and studios. Luna, known for the “Ghost Rider” film series and for his latest role in HBO’s “The Last of Us,” draws on his own experience to argue that Latinos have been unfairly excluded from opportunities, even with the massive increase in TV series and film production around the world in recent years.

Luna hopes that the guide will help those in power recognize this gap. The guide even includes a section addressing the confusion surrounding the term “Latinx” versus “Latino” or “Latine.”

“The idea is to inform the managers and people who will process this information about how to approach the many different identities within our community,” says Luna. Variety. “It’s not all doom and gloom. It shows where we have had our successes and shows where we have had our triumphs and what has been successful.”

Luna notes that he has been fortunate to have an array of creative opportunities that have only expanded as his career has progressed. He is currently a co-star of HBO’s Emmy-nominated drama series ‘The Last of Us’ alongside Pedro Pascal. The NHMC guide cites statistics from the UCLA Hollywood Diversity Report showing that less than 5% of TV series in the 2021-2022 season had Latino lead actors.

“In this new season, I sat with a young actress, Isabela Merced, who was just floored by the fact that she was recently in a room with four Latino actors,” Luna said. “And no one played the bad guy. Everyone played a very complex character with real depth.”

The guide provides examples of racist tropes and stereotypes that are persistent for Latino characters in mainstream films and TV. Top of the list: Portraying Latino characters as gang members, drug cartel leaders, and criminals. No. 2 features Latinos in “roles with limited or no dialogue.” No. 3 is “characters in service or submissive or subservient roles.”

The guide also uses industry ratings and box office data to highlight the importance of the Latino audience.

“Latinos are avid media consumers, buying more movie tickets and subscribing to more online streaming services and video-on-demand than any other group. The audience is there and it is time for the industry to catch up,” the guide said. “We need more authenticity in storytelling, more representation from the screen to the writers’ room, and a commitment from the industry to learn and do better. Through original storytelling, the opportunities to reach a larger audience and positively impact the lives of our community are endless.”

Castillo is well aware that the NHMC is not the first advocacy group to issue a report to entertainment leaders in their quest for progress. But the urgency is great because of the political and cultural turmoil the US faces around diversity and inclusion issues, immigration policies and the shocking level of racially motivated crime.

“The decisions made in Washington DC impact entertainment in Hollywood, and the way Hollywood decides to portray my community is the way we are perceived by the public. And it’s this vicious circle. One of the reasons we’re putting it out now is because this is an election year. And they have dehumanized my community. They have dehumanized not only my community, but all immigrants.”

Castillo, Luna and others believe now is the time to make an educational push, as the entertainment industry itself is in the midst of a dramatic transformation.

“I just want to get in the room with the top people making decisions,” Castillo said. “I am very enthusiastic about this media guide. I think we can break through.”