Latino Watchdog Organizations Launch Campaign Against Paramount Pictures

Photo Courtesy of NHMC

Tom Saenz, Brenda Castillo, Alex Nogales and  Gloria Molina

Armed with a poll, research from UCLA's “Hollywood Diversity Report,” and a failed attempt to come to an understanding with studio executives, the National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC) and the National Latino Media Council (NLMC) announced a plan of action this week against Paramount Pictures.

The two organizations referencing the top 100 grossing films from 2016 to 2017 found that Paramount had the worst track record in hiring Latino talent whether it was in front of or behind the camera, and voiced their strong concern that the lack of hiring Latino actors, writers and directors, they believe, has contributed to the negative stereotypes that have fueled the nation's devisive political climate.

A USC report released Wednesday also revealed similar results that document the lack of diversity in Hollywood films.

The NHMC and NLMC called for the public to join them as they begin a series of actions against Paramount that includes a social media campaign, signing a petition, financially contributing to the campaign, joining nationwide demonstrations and boycotting upcoming Paramount films.

Among their goals to ultimately change the elite industry is to first apply pressure to the studio to sign a memorandum of understanding with the two organizations “detailing how they [Paramount Pictures] plan to solve their Latino exclusion problem.” Last month, NHMC and NLMC met with Paramount COO Andrew Gumpert to come to an agreement with an MOU, however, following the meeting, Gumpert said he would not sign it.

“With only 2.7 percent of Latinos being in films in 2016, according to the report from UCLA, the lack of representation of Latinos is an embarrassment and the unfair portrayal of our community paired with our current political climate is putting us at harm to how the world sees us,“ said Gloria Molina, a former Los Angeles County Supervisor.

Without mentioning President Trump by name or the many times he's made disparaging comments from our nation's highest office about Mexicans including calling them “criminals,” and “rapists,”          Thomas A. Saenz, president of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund and NLMC chair echoed the concern: "Severe underrepresentation in media -- to the point of near total exclusion -- of any significant community has real consequences, including encouraging unscrupulous political demagogues to target the excluded community in campaigns and rhetoric," he said.

"The Latino community understands these consequences and will hold the media companies with the worst records of underrepresentation accountable for their complicity in the denial of civil rights to the Latino community, the nation's largest minority group."

Hollywood has had a long held tradition of stereotyping Latinos as gangmembers, maids, Latin lovers and bimbos. The roles offered to Latino actors are typically one dimensional and don't utilize the training or talent that they have, and it's a frustrating experience for those who want to work in the industry. Latino actors often complain that they aren't considered for general parts and are instead routed to roles where they're asked to mimic accents and provide a director's image of what they think a Latino looks and sounds like.

The purchasing power of the Latino community and its impact on the box office is often overlooked. "We are more than 57 million people in the United States with a purchasing power of more than 1.5 trillion dollars, said Brenda Victoria Castillo, NHMC President & CEO- Elect, “Latinos purchase 24 percent of all tickets sold at the box office. That's real power!” For the boycott, the organization has listed Paramount's upcoming films and their release dates.

On the list is: Nobody’s Fool 11/2/18, Overlord 11/9/18, Bumblebee12/21/18, Eli 1/4/19, What Men Want 1/11/19, Instant Family 2/15/19, Rhythm Section 2/22/19, Wonder Park 3/15/19, Pet Sematary 4/5/19, Rocketman 5/17/19. Absent from the list is the Paramount film, Dora the Explorer.”  Paramount meanwhile, has pointed out that John Ortiz, of Puerto Rican ancestry, will star in the film, Bumblebee.

Alex Nogales, President & CEO of the National Hispanic Media Coalition, said that "Latinos can no longer wait for the film companies to, as they say, bring us into their films `organically'.''

"Latinos must be part and parcel of the film industry. The talent is there and as a community, we need the positive stories and sensitivity of our actors, writers, and directors to counter the anti-Latino rhetoric and actions of the Trump administration who has influenced a large portion of the

population to look at us as the dregs of society," he said.

“It's time for Latinos to be included, said Molina, “It's time for people outside of our community to see what makes the Latino community truly great.”

The organizations' first demonstration against Paramount, which will take place in front of the studio lot, is set for Aug. 25 at 11 a.m. on the corner of Melrose Avenue and Windsor Boulevard. For more information go to: http://www.nhmc.org/

City News Service contributed to this article

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