Academy Dialogues: From Eva Longoria to the real path towards visibility for Latinos in the film industry
Following the new inclusion standards, Eva Longoria and other women sat down on a panel to discuss the visibility of Latinos in Hollywood
Latinos in Hollywood want visibility. Rather, we need visibility. On Thursday, Sept. 10, the Academy invited an all-female panel to the series “Academy Dialogues: It Starts with Us,” with the topic of conversation being “The Erasure of latinos in Hollywood.”
It opened the floor to Eva Longoria, where she shared that her beginning to acting was as a means to becoming what she always wanted to be: a producer and director.
However, in Hollywood, she said she was not “Latina” enough because she did not speak Spanish and didn’t have an accent like Rosie Perez.
“So I wasn’t Latin enough, and I wasn’t white enough,” Longoria noted.
Filmmaker and cinematographer Nadia Hallgren, another member of the panel, echoed Longoria’s words of being an outsider.
“I still don’t feel Hollywood,” she said. “I feel documentary.”
Hallgren was born and raised in the South Bronx, and never imagined that documentaries would land her in the industry and it took a lot of good fortune for her to get noticed.
She recounted how she was at a community film festival in the Bronx when she met one of Michael Moore’s producers, which she still holds as the “biggest stroke of luck in my life.”
But it shouldn’t take luck, and even those that have made it, have faced discriminatory assumptions and comments all along the way to success.
During the 70-minute discussion, Victoria Alonso, the executive vice president of production for Marvel Studios, shared an experience while running late for a pitch meeting at Marvel. As she arrived and apologized to the director, he thought she was the assistant.
For Ivette Rodriguez, the founder and president of American Entertainment Marketing and the co-founder of LA collab, her journey began with a move to New Jersey from Puerto Rico and as a paralegal before her first shot at Arista Records.
At the time, she didn’t even know there was an industry that combined her love of music and film, begging the question of the industry’s overall visibility to the Latinx community.
That’s a difficult thing to achieve in such a whitewashed industry.
All the women on the panel shared their experiences of their rise to Hollywood and the challenges of it, but also addressed the visibility that still plagues Latinos in the industry today.
“In front of the camera, behind the camera. We’re just missing,” said Munoz. “We’re 18% of the population in this country and yet we are in the 4%, 3% in terms of just in front of the camera.”
The panel referenced the 2019 study from the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative at the University of Southern California that displayed that only 3% of actors in lead or co-lead roles in the top 100 movies from 2007-2018 were Latinos.
“Every part of the pipeline you do not see Latinos. And this is at a time that Latinos are facing intense concern about our safety. We are being attacked daily in our communities. And so to have authentic and accurate representation throughout entertainment is important,” said Longoria
“Consider not excluding us.”