Only 7% of 2019's Top Grossing Movies Had a Hispanic Lead, Study Says

”The most illuminating thing is that there is no change on the horizon,“ USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative Report says

A new report on the movie business concludes that popular movies continue to marginalize Hispanic and Latino characters.

The report — released Wednesday by the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, Stacy Smith and partners Eva Longoria’s UnbeliEVAble Entertainment and Wise Entertainment — found that only 7% of the 100 highest-grossing films from 2019 featured a lead or co-lead of Hispanic or Latino origin.

“As companies celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month through online posts, events, and employee resources, the evidence is clear that concern for inclusion happens when convenient or expected and not when it comes to greenlighting films by, for and about the Hispanic/Latino community,” Smith said in a statement.

According to a statement from USC Annenberg, the report examines the prevalence and portrayal of Hispanic and Latinos in film and represents the second in a series from the Annenberg Initiative. The current study serves as an update to previous findings by evaluating top grossing movies from 2019.

The report assessed leading and co-leading Latinx actors and all Latinx speaking characters across 1,300 top-grossing films from 2007 to 2019 (100 per year), as well as the presence of Hispanics and Latinos working as directors, producers and casting directors. An additional qualitative analysis explored the stereotyping of Latinx actors in films from 2019 and compared those result to an analysis of 200 films from 2017 and2018.

Over the course of 13 years the average number of films with Hispanic leads or co-leads was 3.5%, which researchers said in the statement does not represent a significant difference from 2019’s 7% given that both are very low numbers compared to the total number of films examined.

“Forty-nine percent of Los Angelenos are Hispanic or Latino. We’re talking about an industry based in the heart of this city erasing the stories of their neighbors, colleagues, and friends consistently for the past 13 years,” Ariana Case, the study’s lead author, told The Wrap. “The most illuminating finding from this report is that a change is not on the horizon.”

Said Longoria in the statement, “Representation on screen matters for our community — it shapes not just how others sees us, but how we see ourselves.It’s imperative that our media includes narratives that uplift Latino and Hispanic voices.”

Some other findings of the report include:

• More than half of leading/co-leading Hispanic/Latino actors were girls and women across the 1,300 movies examined, including 6 of the 7 lead/co-lead actors in 20189.But Latinx girls and women still represent only 1.9% of all leads/co-leads across 1300 films.

• Hispanic and Latino leads/co-leads face a “significant age related barrier.” Only 1% of all 1,300 films featured a Hispanic lead/co lead age 45 or older, including none in 2019.Only 3 of those roles were held by a woman 45 or older; two of those roles went to Jennifer Lopez.

• Five percent of 2019’s leads/co-leads were Latinx– defined as Latinos born in the U.S. and not of Spanish origin (unless in combination with another Latino ethnicity.Only 6 Afro-Lations worked as leads/co leads aeross the 13 year time frame.Three held lead/co-lead roles in 2019.

• Hispanic and Latino LGBTQ characters and characters with disabilities are almost completely absent from top films. In 2019, 98 out of 100 films did not feature a Latinx character and 95 were missing Hispanic/Latino characters with disabilities.

• There were 35 individual Hispanic/Latino directors across 13 years.A total of 34.3% of these directors were U.S. born, while 65.7% were international.Only 2 directors were Afro-Latino.

Here’s a link to the full report.

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