November 27, 2023
In an open letter, by Rep. Joaquin Castro in Variety on November 22, 2023, the Texas Democrat pushes the industry to embrace Latino stories:
'Our success is your success'
As the Thanksgiving holiday dawns, I urge you to include Latino films and performances on your winter watch list and give Hollywood Latinos and their projects a fair chance to be seen.
While Latinos are a growing and essential part of the cultural and social fabric of America, based on the dismal numbers from the recent USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative Report on major Hollywood films released between 2007-2022, it’s clear that Hollywood — America’s narrative-creating and image-defining institution — is broadly failing to acknowledge or include the Latino community.
The Annenberg report notes slow progress over the years. In 2007, no Hispanic/Latino actor held a lead or co-lead role in major Hollywood films. In 2021 and 2022, there were marginal gains, with 10 films where Hispanic/Latino actors held lead or co-lead roles, out of a total of 109 and 118 leading roles, respectively. Among directors and producers of major Hollywood films, less than 5% were Hispanic or Latino, with only five of these 82 directors being women.
This year, however, stands as a testament to the vibrancy of Latino stories, showcasing a range of artistic excellence. In the face of profound barriers to entry, Latinos have shown up and taken center stage, leading or supporting beautiful storytelling that transcends cultural boundaries. These narratives resonate powerfully, not just with Latinos, who deserve to see accurate, positive portrayals of our community reflected on screen, but with Americans at large, underscoring the universal appeal of diverse and inclusive storytelling.
This year, Latinos were the driving force behind and in many projects, I would like to bring them to your attention:
Please join me and millions of movie-goers in celebrating the accomplishments of the Latino community by watching these projects and other stories by Latino and Hispanic actors, directors, screenwriters, and visionary creatives.
In 2024, consider greenlighting more Latino stories — giving more Latino storytellers opportunities from below to above the line, and promoting Latinos into positions of power in your development, greenlighting, and consumer-facing decision rooms.
Latinos have always been a good bet. With the highest per-capita movie attendance in America, we are your bottom line — and our success is your success.
U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX) is the former chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and a six-term congressman from San Antonio, Texas. In 2020, he commissioned a two-part report on Latino underrepresentation in America’s media and entertainment industry that has been widely cited in analysis of the film, television, news and publishing sectors.