During a recent Heritage Month event, Latine leaders in Hollywood spoke about how film and TV studios should continue increasing diversity and give Latine creators ample time to cultivate their work before deeming something unsuccessful.
Showrunners and writers like Tanya Saracho (Vida) and Gloria Calderón Kellett (One Day at a Time) urged executives to stop erasing Latine stories without giving them a chance to grow. The message was delivered at an event for DEAR Hollywood, an initiative between the justice-based organization Harness and the Untitled Latinx Project (ULP). DEAR Hollywood stands for Demanding Equal Access and Representation in Hollywood.
“Latine storytellers and Latine storytelling [have] lived in the shadows since the advent of Hollywood,” Saracho said. “It’s always been like this. We are allowed a glimpse of light here and there, but we always go back in the shadows. We never remained in the light long enough to make substantial progress.”
Saracho referenced the HBO Max series Gordita Chronicles, a coming-of-age comedy executive produced by Eva Longoria and Zoe Saldaña, that was canceled after only one season. The quick abandonment of Gordita Chronicles was nothing new in recent years for Latine creators in Hollywood. Just this year, Latine shows like Gentefied and Promised Land were also unceremoniously given the ax.
That’s only the beginning. Several other Latine shows have recently been tossed into the recycle bin after only a couple of seasons. They include Diary of a Future President (canceled in 2021 after two seasons); Mr. Iglesias (canceled in 2021 after two seasons); The Expanding Universe of Ashley Garcia (canceled in 2020 after one season); The Baker and the Beauty (canceled in 2020 after one season); and One Day at a Time (canceled in 2020 after four seasons), among others.
“Why is this so?” Saracho asked. “Well, lots of systemic reasons. But this erasure has become a deep wound that we must heal.”
Other speakers during the event included Wilmer Valderrama (NCIS), who co-founded Harness with America Ferrera and Ryan Piers Williams; Dailyn Rodriguez (The Lincoln Lawyer); Sierra Teller Ornelas (Rutherford Falls); Linda Yvette Chávez (Gentefied); and Leah Benavides Rodriguez (Thirst). The latter four discussed the “Pillars of Change,” five objectives created by DEAR Hollywood to help increase Latine inclusion. The five pillars are:
- No Stories About Us Without Us
- Greenlight Our Projects
- Represent All Aspects of Our Lives and Culture
- Repeating Levels Holds Us Back
- Hire Us for Non-Latine Projects
“Audiences, Latine and otherwise, are tired of watching us in the same clichéd roles and writers are tired of being commissioned to write them,” Saracho said of the third pillar. “But it’s not just that. Many studies mention the consequences of omission or toxic representation in the form of stereotypes. Representation, as we’ve heard, affects perception. The cultivation theory claims that over time, media shapes how audiences perceive the world around them. And this is what we want to be considered when executives are weighing what kind of Latine stories to develop.”