As of late, there’s been a spike in the conversation about Hollywood’s gender imbalance behind the camera. Tumblr page Shit People Say to Women Directors killed it by allowing women working in the film industry to anonymously share the horrific, sexist comments they’ve endured. This past summer, the ACLU petitioned local government agencies to look at the issue more deeply, ultimately triggering an investigation by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
In an attempt to document the extent of the disparity, The New York Times Magazine published a feature story in which women working in Hollywood aired their industry’s dirty laundry. Maureen Dowd, author of “The Women of Hollywood Speak Out,” explains, “I talked to more than 100 women and men at all levels of Hollywood. What I heard was an avalanche of previously pent-up fears, regrets, recriminations, and recommendations. Beyond the bad numbers were a lot of raw emotions.”
Accompanying the story were 63 portraits; only one of them, Patricia Riggen, is Latina. The Mexican director of La misma luna and Girl in Progress is one of the few Latinas who has been able to penetrate the studio system. Her most recent film, The 33, is a big-budget Hollywood behemoth with special effects and big stars like Antonio Banderas, Lou Diamond Phillips, and Kate del Castillo. It’s not the type of project studio execs would normally leave in the hands of a female director. She’s one of the lucky ones.
Is it really possible that The New York Times Magazine could only find one Latina working in Hollywood? Looking over the photos leaves one with the impression that ethnic and racial diversity was not their top priority. White feminism strikes again.
Even a person vaguely familiar with the industry, or who’s only watched a handful of movies in the last few years could rattle off three names of Latina actresses: Jennifer Lopez, Sofia Vegara, and Eva Longoria. Besides being gossip magazine fodder, and no matter what you think of their acting, all three have their own production companies and work hard to elevate Latino stories into the mainstream. Lopez is producing and starring in NBC’s new cop drama, Shades of Blue. Eva Longoria’s UnbeliEVAble Entertainment sold several pilots this year, including her return to television as the star of NBC’s Telenovela.
For a long time, the only way for a Latina to rise the ranks in Hollywood was as an actress playing stereotypical spitfire roles. But, things are changing and the sexy Latina trope is worn out. It’s about time we recognized Latinas for their behind-the-camera talents too.