Hispanic missing from leading roles in Hollywood but that’s not all

I don’t know about you but I don’t need a study to tell me that Hollywood movies are lacking Hispanics in leading roles. All anyone…

Few roles for Hispanics in top Hollywood movies.(Photo by Jon Shapley/Getty Images for SXSW)

I don’t know about you but I don’t need a study to tell me that Hollywood movies are lacking Hispanics in leading roles.

All anyone needs to do is look at the movie screen and know that Hispanics continue to be relegated more to movie roles that are heavy on the stereotype, i. e., playing maids, drug dealers, gunman, or sexy nymphs as opposed to serious movie characters.

SEE ALSO: Lupe Ontiveros’ legacy and the role of Latinos in Hollywood

The University of Southern California’s Annenberg School recently conducted a study of the top 100 grossing films in 2013 and while at it, revealed that less than five percent of actors in top Hollywood films are Hispanic and that moreover, Latinas are more likely than women of any other ethnicity to appear partially or totally naked on screen.

Is any one surprised by these findings?

Latinas are more likely than women of any other ethnicity to appear partially or totally naked on screen. (Photo: Facebook)

Even though Hispanics make up the largest percentage of move goers of all groups, when it comes to casting calls, Hollywood has not returned the allegiance. Certainly there is a larger number of Hispanics on the movie screen these days but those with name recognition are still countable on one hand.

Blanca Valdez who runs a Hispanic casting agency in Los Angeles said in a recent interview that it’s difficult for Latinos to audition for roles unless the call specifically asks for “diversity” or “multiethnic,” which means we won’t see Eva Longoria playing Eliza Doolittle or Esai Morales playing Patrick Henry anytime soon.

Admittedly, we saw Jimmy Smits, albeit on television not in a movie, almost become President of the United States until the show’s creators decided to kill him off. The creator’s missed their chance to take an out of the box step to put a Hispanic in such an unusual but important role.

But the movies and television aren’t the only venues where Hispanics are missing in action.

Think back to the interviews done on the entire network and cable stations during the recent border crisis and see if you can recall the name of at least one Hispanic that was asked their opinion about the unaccompanied minor issue.

The name of comedian Paul Rodriguez does come to mind but the interview afterward was said to shock Don Lemon of CNN who interviewed him.

Apparently, Mr. Rodriguez expressed his opinion that said basically the children coming illegally should be repatriated to their country and added that the U.S. can’t take every poor child that wants to come here. Mr. Lemon couldn’t help himself; he said that Mr. Rodriquez’s views might surprise viewers since he is an immigrant himself. What? So its bad enough we aren’t heard from on such an important issue that is also close to our hearts but then when we are interviewed we are thrown back to our immigrant roots and expected to behave a certain way.

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If I’ve written once, I’ve written a hundred times in past columns that Hispanic aren’t monolithic, we may speak Spanish (some of us that is) and have Spanish surnames but our thoughts and opinions can vary widely depending on what part of the United States we were born and raised.

Stop with the stereotypes!

If someone such as Rodriquez says something that is likely to displease the interviewer so be it. In the past, our community as a whole has been reluctant to offend outsiders period. Well its time to speak up as Paul Rodriquez did and express our opinions without fear of being hectored by the television commentators or even by our own community.

To their credit MSNBC has stepped up to meet its commitment to ensuring that all communities are represented on the air. In this regard they recently hired José Díaz Balart to be the new host for the 10:00 AM slot formerly held by Chris Jansing.

 Journalist José Díaz-Balart

Jose Diaz-Balart, host of weekday MSNBC news. (Photo by Rob Kim/Getty Images)

This is good news yet I hear rumblings, primarily from Mexican-Americans, that a Cuban American doesn’t represent the largest of Hispanic audiences in this country…obviously a Mexican-American would have been preferred by the Mexican-American community.

To this I say, “what difference does it make whether it’s a Cuban, Mexican or Bolivian…we have a Hispanic hosting a prime time slot who is a known commodity and a professional in his own right.”

It’s up to Mr. Balart to insist that MSNBC doesn’t stop with him and that other Hispanics will be hosts, will participate on panel discussions and will be interviewed on a regular basis not just on his show but on other MSNBC shows as well. In the meantime, we should support him and begin to make noise about the lack of Hispanics in all media outlets.

There are many Latino organizations in this country and its incumbent upon them to start beating the drum.

The National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts has been beating this drum for years but it can’t stand alone, the more partners it can pick up along the way the better and stronger the message.

The National Association of Hispanic Journalists is meeting in San Antonio this weekend and the membership has the opportunity to especially call out the lack of Hispanics journalist everywhere.

Next time the NCLR hosts the ALMA Awards, they should make time to protest the lack of Hispanics in leading roles. And next time LULAC holds it annual convention, instead of fighting among themselves, the organization should draw attention to the lack of Hispanics in all entertainment and media fields. And if that isn’t enough, we Hispanics should protest our displeasure by not attending one single movie for an entire week and find out if low ticket sales may enlighten the powers that be in the entertainment and media business.

Enough is enough!

SEE ALSO: Latinos get no respect on Vanity Fair’s Hollywood cover