More than 50 protesters demonstrated outside today’s annual Oscar nominees luncheon at the Beverly Hilton to protest the under-representation of Latinos in the film industry. Carrying signs saying “Enough is Enough” and chanting “Oscars so white” and “Latinos excluded, time to be included,” they’re demanding that Hollywood film studios include more Hispanics in front of and behind the cameras.
Despite the chants and the locale, the protest’s leader, National Hispanic Media Coalition president Alex Nogales, told Deadline that the protest is “not about the Oscars.”
“The reason we’re here is because the heads of all the studios are inside, and they’re not utilizing Latino talent, neither in front of nor behind the cameras,” he said. “Enough is enough. Only 3.1% of the speaking roles in Hollywood movies go to Latinos, and we make up 18% of the population.”
“This is not about the film Academy,” Nogales said. “They’re doing a good job of bringing in people of color.”
Other speakers at the protest included former Los Angeles County Supervisor Gloria Molina; Thomas A. Saenz, president and general counsel of MALDEF; producer Moctesuma Esparza; and Arenas Entertainment founder and CEO Santiago Pozo.
None of this year’s acting nominees is Latino, but Mexico-born Guillermo del Toro is nominated for Best Director and Original Screenplay for The Shape of Water, which leads the field with 13 nominations including Best Picture.
The NHMC said it will hold another protest March 3, the day before the Oscars.
A recent study by the USC Annenberg School found that of the 100 top-grossing films of 2016, 54 depicted no Hispanic/Latino characters, and that of those characters whose ethnicity could be determined, only 3.1% were Hispanic/Latino. That is despite the fact that the U.S. Census Bureau says Hispanics constituted 17.6% of the nation’s total population in 2015 – making people of Hispanic origin the nation’s largest ethnic or racial minority.
“For years the success of the major film studios has been won on the backs of U.S. Latinos who represent 23% of all movie-ticket buyers and 18% of the U.S. population,” Nogales said. “Yet, on- and off-screen and in the narratives Hollywood’s movies tell, Latinos remain the most underrepresented minority in the industry. Enough is enough. It’s time to end the whitewashing and put Latinos in front of and behind the camera.”