October 15 marks the end of Hispanic Heritage Month and some of the top creators in TV and film are punctuating it with a demand for change when it comes to Latinx representation — and they have every right to voice their demands. In fact, it is long overdue.
In an open letter to Hollywood over 270 Latinx showrunners, creators, and TV and feature writers, including Lin-Manuel Miranda, Tanya Saracho, Gloria Calderon-Kellett, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, Steven Canals, John Leguizamo, Linda Yvette-Chavez, Carolina Paiz, Marco Ramirez, Javier Grillo-Marxuach and more are calling for systemic change in the entertainment industry.
The letter starts: “As we come to the end of Hispanic Heritage Month in the midst of a global pandemic and continued racial injustice, many of us in the Latinx community have found it difficult to celebrate. Inspired by the activism of the Black and Indigenous communities, many of whom also identify as Latinx, we stand in solidarity with our fellow Black, Native and Indigenous writers, co-signing their WGAW Open Letters and echoing their demands for systemic change in our industry.”
“As Latinx Showrunners, Creators, TV and Feature Writers, we are incensed by the continued lack of Latinx representation in our industry, especially among the Black and Indigenous members of our community,” the letter continues. “Our stories are important, and our erasure onscreen contributes to the persistent prejudice that prevents real change in this country. This prejudice is not as overt as the one that keeps immigrant children in cages and separates families at the border, or as violent as the racism that is killing our Black, Brown, and Indigenous community members at the hands of police.”
“But when we are onscreen, we’re often relegated to stereotypes or villains. And as a recent New York Times OpEd states, ‘White elites cannot muffle a huge, vibrant community for decades and not expect consequences. For Latinos in the Trump era, these consequences are deadly, from Hurricane Maria to the Walmart shooting in El Paso and the pandemic, as well as soaring hate crimes.'”
The letter points out that the Latinx community makes up 18.3% of the U.S. population but it is not reflected in film and TV. There are only 4.7% feature writers and 8.7% TV writers that are Latinx. As Latinx writers move up to Showrunner level, the stats only get more dismal. “By refusing to tell our stories AND by refusing to put us in charge of telling them — Hollywood power brokers are complicit in our exclusion,” the letter remarks.
This is even further supported by a recent study from CAA and Parrot Analytics, which shows that even though TV shows are a lot more diverse than they were three years ago, not all racial and ethnic groups were equally well represented in scripted debuts. Latinos and Hispanics remain significantly underrepresented despite being one of the fastest-growing demographics in the country. Yes, there are shows like One Day At A Time that are killing it, but there have been many Latino-fronted shows in the past years, like The Baker and the Beauty, Vida and United We Fall — but they were canceled. Particularly, shows like The Baker and the Beauty and United We Fall did not get the chance to find its footing beyond one season.
The letter can be summarized with three words included heavily throughout: “We are tired.”
The open letter does not mince words with the demands and draws out exactly what needs to be done including creating stories for and about the Latinx community by Latinx creators; greenlighting Latinx-fronted projects; respecting all aspects and intersections of the Latinx cultural representation; and hiring Latinx creators for non-Latinx projects.
The letter, which was posted on social channels with the hashtag #EndLatinXclusion, closes with “Stories are powerful. Stories change the world. Let’s get on the right side of history so we can continue to create needed change and tell captivating stories together.”
This initiative was launched by the Untitled Latinx Project (ULP) founded by Saracho. It is an all-Latina advocacy group formed to increase representation of Latinx created stories for Television. The goal of this call to action was uniting the professional community of Latinx writers, creators and showrunners.
Read the letter in full here.
Subscribe to Deadline Breaking News Alerts and keep your inbox happy.