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Latin Representation in TV and Film Reverts to 2019 Levels, Study Finds



Latin representation in television and film has dropped to 2019 levels, according to a new diversity report from the Latino Donor Collaborative, a nonprofit that researches the Latin community in the US.

According to its 2022 report, the percentage of Latin stars, co-stars, showrunners and directors all decreased from 2021 to 2022. Last year saw 2.6 percent Latin leads on television, as opposed to 2.9 percent the year before; 2.6 percent co-leads in 2022 versus 3.7 percent in 2021; 1.4 percent of showrunners last year, contrary to 2.5 percent the year before; and 1.5 percent Latin directors as opposed to 2.5 percent in 2021.

Film projects also saw a drop in Latin representation, including stars, screenwriters and directors between 2021 and 2022. Latin stars made up 5.1 percent of films in 2022, more than two percent less than the year before. However, when it came to co-stars, there was a brief increase, with 4.5 percent of co-lead ensembles being led by Latin people, contrary to 4.3 percent in 2021. Latin screenwriters and directors both made up 6.9 percent of those in the industry, and both dropped below 3 percent in 2022.

The LDC report called attention to specific streaming and premium cable networks that had zero Latin leads across their several programs in 2022: HGTV, Discovery, TLC and HBO. Netflix had two Latin leads across its 124 series, while AppleTV+ only had one in its 44 shows.

In a few case studies provided in the report, season 23 of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit was randomly selected to analyze the inaccurate characterization of US Latin people in mainstream media. It pointed out three ways in which the community is inaccurately represented in the series: Latin folks make up 30 percent of the New York Police Department, but there’s only one Latin officer as a co-lead in the series; the co-lead has a backstory of growing up in a violent home and was forced to work for the Mexican cartel briefly as a child; and a lot of the Latin characters in the show were cast as either criminals or victims of violent crimes.

The report also looked at a case study for films, specifically futuristic ones. The organization looked at 10 future-themed movies that were released between 2014 and 2023, none of which included a Latin star, co-star, director or screenwriter. The organization studied Interstellar, Ready Player One, Infinite, Lightyear, The Tomorrow War, Dual, Apollo 10 1/2: A Space Age Childhood, Monsters of California, After Yang and Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.

The Latin population is the largest minority in the US, per the report, making up 19 percent of Americans, and yet they’re the most underrepresented group in the media. Latin stars make up only 9.29 percent of onscreen representation in streaming, 2.33 percent on cable and 5.42 percent on broadcast.

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