Paramount Pictures is Protested by Latino Group for its Lack of Representation
Two Latino civil rights organizations staged a protest on Saturday outside Paramount Pictures in Los Angeles, to draw attention to the lack of Latino representation in its films.
Leaders for the National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC) and the National Latino Media Council (NLMC) focused their efforts on Paramount, citing statistics from University of Southern California (USC) and its Annenberg Inclusion Initiative — with their own research showing Paramount had the fewest number of Latinos in films.
Both organizations met this past Tuesday in Pasadena to discuss a poll of Latinos viewers’ sensibilities and unveiled a list of planned actions against Paramount.
This lack of representation pervades all through Hollywood as well. Fewer than seven percent of speaking characters in the top 100 films over an 11-year period spanning from 2007 to 2017 were Latino, according to the USC report published last month.
Based on their film studio research from 2012 to 2017 — and UCLA’s latest Hollywood Diversity Report, released in February — the NHMC found that Paramount had the worst numbers when it came to hiring Latino actors, writers, and directors.
According to NHMC’s just-released “Lack of Latinx in Film Industry,” which narrowed its focus on the top 100 grossing films per year between 2016 and 2017, Paramount released no films featuring either a Hispanic writer or a Hispanic actor in a lead role. During that period, Paramount released 20 survey-eligible films. In 2017, Paramount distributed only one movie from a Hispanic director, Spaniard F. Javier Gutiérrez’s Rings.
Alex Nogales, NHMC president, said that his organization also decided to target Paramount after an unsuccessful meeting with studio executives earlier this summer to reach a memorandum of understanding. Nogales said those agreements help set goals in writing in how the studio would boost Latino representation in its films.
The talks stalled after a tense meeting between NHMC leaders and Paramount executives who felt the civil rights group was being overly aggressive in their demands. Nogales defended his tactics, saying that change in the industry was long overdue.
A studio spokesperson late last month said Paramount executives “met with NHMC in a good faith effort to see how we could partner as we further drive Paramount’s culture of diversity, inclusion and belonging. Under our new leadership team, we continue to make progress — including ensuring representation in front of and behind the camera in upcoming films such as Dora the Explorer, Instant Family, Bumblebee and Limited Partners — and welcome the opportunity to build and strengthen relationships with the Latinx creative community further.”
Indeed, diversity could be seen as a boon for business: in the aforementioned poll, completed by 423 individuals who self-identify as Latino or Hispanic, 66 percent of said viewers were more inclined to watch films with Latino themes, while 61 percent would prefer films from Latino actors, writers, and directors. Another 51 percent said they would either eliminate or watch viewer films from the least-inclusive studio.
As of 2016, the Pew Research Center stipulated that there were 58 million Latinos in America, accounting for 18 percent of the population. The 2018 Hollywood Diversity Report found that less than three percent of speaking parts in films go to Latino actors.
Nogales urged Latinos to sign a petition, picket Paramount Pictures, and cease buying tickets for its films. The boycott demonstration was held at 11 a.m. Saturday, August 25.