“Latinos may be the most avid movie goers in the country, but chances are they won’t be seeing many Hispanics on screen.
A study released Monday by the Media, Diversity and Social Change Initiative at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism exhaustively researched racial, ethnic and gender diversity on screen and behind cameras. The results found most stories “fail to represent the demographic composition of the U.S.”
The study, which is called the Comprehensive Annenberg Report on Diversity, found Latinos are among the least represented speaking roles in film and TV, even though they make up about 17.4 percent of the U.S. population. Out of more than 11,000 speaking characters surveyed in film and TV, 5.8 percent were Hispanic or Latino.
“For the past 10 years, we have quantified disturbing patterns around the lack of media representation concerning females and people of color in film,” the authors stated in the report. “Despite elevated awareness around this issue, the numbers have not budged.”
Felix Sánchez, co-founder of the National Hispanics Foundation for the Arts, said the report reiterates a pattern he has seen in Hollywood for 20 years. He said on-screen representation, and whether or not a character even gets named, starts in predominantly white writers’ rooms.
“It all depends on who is in the writer’s room because they control the words and images the actors produce,” Sánchez told NBC Latino. “When you don’t have diverse writers, you won’t have three-dimensional minority characters.”
There is also a notable gender disparity when it comes to onscreen Latino-speaking characters. Fewer than 38 percent of the actresses are Latina, and according to the report, they are the most sexualized identifiable minority group.
“When Latinos are represented, they just play stereotypes,” Sánchez said. “If the casting continues to portray a very singular look for Latinos, then that means women continue to be overly sexualized and [men] equally have to be the dominant, macho role…”