Congressman Joaquin Castro Urges Hollywood to Give Latino Films a ‘Fair Chance’ 

November 27, 2023

Photo: NHMC 2023 Impact Awards Gala

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'

Dear Hollywood,

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:

  • Eva Longoria’s feature directorial debut as the only Mexican American Latina to direct a major studio motion picture with “Flamin’ Hot.” A film that resonated universally with audiences, Flamin’ Hot stars a Latino-dominated cast led by Jesse Garcia and Annie Gonzalez, and is Searchlight Pictures’ biggest streaming debut to date.
  • “A Million Miles Away” directed by Alejandra Márquez Abella and starring Michael Peña in a spectacular biopic about Mexican American astronaut José Hernandez and his path from farm worker to engineer and astronaut.
  • America Ferrera’s powerful turn in this year’s blockbuster “Barbie” movie.
  • “Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe” marks Aitch Alberto’s feature film debut.
  • “Blue Beetle,” directed by Ángel Manuel Soto and written by Gareth Dunnet-Alcocer, is the first DC comic film starring a majority-Latino cast.
  • Gael García Bernal stars in “Cassandro,” the true story of Saúl Armendáriz, a gay amateur wrestler from El Paso who rose to global fame.
  • Eugenio Derbez stars in the Sundance Film Festival winner “Radical,” based on a true story about an inspiring teacher in a Mexican border town who led his students to incredible academic success.
  • “Rustin” stars Colman Domingo as Bayard Rustin in the often-overlooked story of the civil rights activist who organized the historic 1963 March on Washington.
  • “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse,” written by Phil Lord and starring Oscar Isaac and Lauren Vélez, is the story of an Afro Latino teenager who uses his powers to save the universe and the people he loves.

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.

National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC) is a woman-led 501(c)(3) non-profit civil and human rights organization that was founded to eliminate hate, discrimination, and racism toward the Latino communities.
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