BEVERLY HILLS — Several dozen protesters gathered Feb. 5 outside the annual Oscar nominees’ lunch at the Beverly Hilton to call for more representation of Latinos in on-screen and behind-the-camera roles in motion pictures.
“Hollywood continues to be challenged by gender and ethnic diversity,” said Alex Nogales, president and chief executive officer of the National Hispanic Media Coalition, which organized the protest. “Our upcoming demonstrations are only the first of what will become increasingly aggressive wake-up calls to Hollywood executives to end the exclusion of Latinos in the industry.
“By targeting the very important and visible Academy events, we’re publicly serving notice to the motion picture executives that we’re not asking for equity anymore. We’re demanding it.”
The group cited studies conducted from 2007 to 2016 by the USC Annenberg School for Communications and Journalism, which showed, among other findings, that only 3.1 percent of film characters during that time were Hispanic.
Former Los Angeles County Supervisor Gloria Molina, who participated in the demonstration, said, “Demographics show that Latinos make up 56 million plus in the country, yet films in this country fail to represent the true composition of the U.S. And then when you do have Latina roles their character tends to be overly sexualized. Our children need better images of themselves and invisibility doesn’t do justice to our artists or our community.”
The Academy has been working over the past few years to increase the percentage of women and “people of color” among its ranks, in the wake of the “OscarsSoWhite” criticism generated by two years of all-white slates of Oscar nominees in 2015 and 2016.
In 2016, the Academy announced a series of changes to its voting and membership procedures with the aim of doubling its female and “diverse” membership by 2020.
Coalition officials said a second demonstration is scheduled for March 3, with a time and location to be announced in the coming weeks.