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Latinos in Hollywood; the Rocky Road to Representation

Latinos have been pioneers in the film industry since the silent movie era, but there are trials and tribulations of representation in Hollywood. The underrepresentation is in front and behind the cameras. 

UCLA’s Hollywood Diversity Report 2022 shows that Latinos only get 7% of lead roles. 

Latinos were often used as background characters wrangling horses in western films. Latinos that did land a role were often typecast in roles that involved poverty and immigration. 

The roles that Latinos are often boxed in are stereotypes that include; feisty-Latina, the maid, gang banger, and the Latin lover. 

Hollywood stars like Ramon Navarro and Dolores del Rio, both from Mexico, got their starts in silent movies as “Latin Lovers”. 

Dolores del Rio is seen as an “exotic woman” who became Hollywood’s sex symbol. 

The harmful stereotypes of Latino characters make it hard for aspiring Latino characters to break out of typecasting. 

Actors like Jenna Ortega, Xolo Maridueña, and Xochitl Gomez have been breaking out in Hollywood recently. 

The under representation in Hollywood affects all aspects of filmmaking; only 3% of casting directors and 3% of producers are Latino, according to USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative’s 2021 study. 

The lack of Latino representation in films makes it hard to showcase Latino characters that reflect the entire community.  

Below is a list of films to watch during Hispanic Heritage Month. 

Roma” 

  • Directed by Alfonso Cuarón
  • Follows the life of a housekeeper in Mexico for an upper-class family, a semi-autobiographical take on Cuarón life. 

Gueros” 

  • Set in Mexico City, three teenagers set out to find a musician during the Mexican capital’s student strike. 
  • Directed by Alonso Ruizpalacios 

Pan’s Labyrinth

  • Bookish daughter escapes into an eerie fantasy world 
  • Directed by Guillermo del Toro 

Real Women Have Curves

  • Set in East Los Angeles, an 18-year-old daughter struggles to decide to leave for college or stay at home with her mother. 
  • Directed by Patricia Cardoso

Spy Kids” 

  • Family-friendly adventure based on two children who help save their parents 
  • Directed by Robert Rodriguez 

Selena” 

  • Biography of Tejano music star Selena 
  • Directed by Gregory Nava 

What are your thoughts on diversity and representation in Hollywood? Share your thoughts with us @HerCampusSJSU

Lesley Rodriguez is currently a fourth year journalism major and radio-television- film minor attending San Jose State University.
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