UPDATED with Paramount statement, 10:50 AM: Paramount Pictures has issued this statement about the call for boycott: “We recently met with NHMC in a good faith effort to see how we could partner as we further drive Paramount’s culture of diversity, inclusion and belonging. Under our new leadership team, we continue to make progress — including ensuring representation in front of and behind the camera in upcoming films such as Dora the Explorer, Instant Family, and Limited Partners — and welcome the opportunity to build and strengthen relationships with the Latinx creative community further.”
EARLIER: Paramount Pictures was singled out today by Hispanic leaders for its “dismal numbers” in the hiring of Latino and Latina actors, writers and directors. Speaking at a news conference in Pasadena, leaders of the National Hispanic Media Coalition and the National Latino Media Council called for the public to join them in a boycott to force the studio to sign a Memorandum of Understanding “detailing how they are going to solve their Latino exclusion problem.”
The groups said that 20 of Paramount’s 100 top-grossing films in 2016-17 had seven Latinos out of 160 of the top eight credited actors, one Latino director and zero Latino writers.
The groups originally said they would wait to hear Paramount’s response, but there were “Boycott Paramount films” signs at NHMC headquarters today, and Brenda Victoria Castillo, NHMC’s president and CEO-elect, made the groups’ stance clear: “Boycott Paramount Pictures today,” she said.
“The whole Latino community is going to boycott their films,” said NHMC president and CEO Alex Nogales, adding that he and a delegation met with Paramount execs in late June to urge them to sign a memorandum of understanding but got nowhere. The groups are planning a demonstration August 25 in front of Paramount to deliver a petition.
At a pre-Oscar protest in March, Nogales told Deadline that the studios “aren’t listening” to their concerns and that “because they have not been willing to talk to us, our next step will be to see which of the six major studios we will boycott nationwide.”
During a Q&A session, a reporter brought up the recent firing of longtime Paramount Television president Amy Powell, who sources said was let go over racially insensitive comments she made. (She has denied that claim.) Nogales noted that Paramount execs said during their meeting last month that they “are going to to correct the wrongs of the past.” But he said today, “Words are enough — we want action.”
A survey released at the news conference indicates that most Latinos “are willing to take action and flex their purchase power by reducing or boycotting altogether movies from studies that lack representation.” The survey concluded that “studios should take action, or Latinos will.”
“Half of all respondents (51%) would either reduce or stop watching movies from the worst offending studio altogether,” the survey found, and “two out of five Latinos (41%) would talk with friends about their concerns.” The poll found that “25% report being willing to write a letter,” while one in eight (13%) said they would be willing to protest.
“Latinos are 18% of the U.S. population, yet we appear in only 2.7% of the speaking roles in film and have even more dismal representation as writers and directors,” organizers said in advance of the press conference. “How Latinos are perceived and treated is directly linked to how we are portrayed on television and film.”
The survey of 423 adult Latinos, conducted by Latino Decision, found that those surveyed overwhelmingly believe that there are “way too many stereotypical portrayals of Latinos in film, which they view as harmful,” and that “stereotypes in film cause America to look down on Latinos.”
It also found that 66% of Latinos are “more likely to watch a film with Latino themes,” and that 61% are “more likely to watch a film with Latino/Latina actors/directors.” The poll also found that 54% of Latino adults said “there aren’t enough Latino actors in film,” while 59% said there “aren’t enough Latino storylines in film.”
The report also found that “women, who go more often to the theater and purchase more films, are 12 points more likely than men to respond to the presence of a Latino actor or theme by wanting to see the film,” and that “young moviegoers (18-29), who are also more likely to see movies and buy them when compared with older consumers, are five points more likely than older patrons to want to see Latino-themed films or Latino talent.”
Joining Nogales and Castillo at the news conference were Gloria Molina, former LA County Supervisor; Thomas Saenz, chair of the National Latino Media Council and president and general counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund; and Matt Barreto, co-founder and managing partner of Latino Decisions.