Where are all the Latinx late night TV show hosts? That’s what Afro-Latina comedian Suni Reyes (TV’s Billions) wants to know. In a recent op-ed for The Wrap, Reyes writes about the lack of Latinx representation in the late night TV space. The first (and last) time a Latinx person hosted their own late-night series was George López–10 years ago.
“For decades, white men have dominated the business of ‘progressive, smart, satirical comedy,’” Reyes writes. “And although networks have started to move the needle forward and giving diverse voices the opportunity to join the roster, Latinx/Latine comedians–both up-and-coming and ‘household’ names–have not been able to enter the exclusive late-night and variety show club.”
Reyes says that she thought maybe a change would occur in late-night writers’ rooms during the Trump administration, since so much of the news making headlines was about the former president’s anti-immigrant policies. Unfortunately, however, Reyes says she was only hired for stereotypical roles on late-night TV. She was hired to play a maid on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert and a Taco Bell customer on Last Week Tonight With John Oliver.
“Although I appreciated the opportunities these shows gave me, Latinx/Latine comedians are still on the outside looking in when it comes to being hired, promoted and uplifted–even though we’ve been doing the work for years, and have left our mark at the predominantly white theaters and comedy clubs that serve as incubators of talent for these shows,” Reyes writes.
Reyes points out some “trickling” of Latinx voices into late night writers’ rooms like Afro-Latina comedian X Mayo joining The Daily Show With Trevor Noah, Felipe Torres Medina hired as a writer on The Late Show, and Desus and Mero on Showtime, but adds that it’s not nearly enough.
“This abysmally low representation should not give us the false impression that we have a seat at the table, or that there’s a pipeline in place to continue to promote Latine comedians,” she writes. “Wouldn’t it be lovely if mainstream media could give a Latina woman of African or Indigenous descent their own late-night show? Saturday Noche Latina, anyone?”