Sunday, July 21, 2024

Latinos Remain Under-Represented In the Media, On Screen

In this Dec. 14, 2011 photo, Univision newscaster Jorge Ramos works in the studio in Miami, Florida. Ramos is anchors one of the most watched news shows in Spanish the U.S. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)

Latinos make up 17 percent of the total US population, however, those number do not translate to the big screen or on TV where the number of Latinos in leading roles has remained stagnant or even diminished since the 1950’s. The problem translates to the news media as well where, by and large, the only subject where Latinos are brought on for expert opinions is on the sole subject of immigration according to a recent Media Matters for America report.

Robert Rodriguez grew frustrated with the lack of Latino representation and character diversity in roles and in the news and so he created El Rey Network, an English-language channel. “You can only tell a network so long to cast a Hispanic,” Rodriguez told the Associated Press. “But if there’s nobody writing the roles or creating the roles, it’s even fundamentally a larger problem.”

Rodriquez’s, EL Rey Network seeks to solve that larger problem by placing writing, producing and directorial control over content and characters into the hands of Latinos. From 2010-2013, of the entertainment industry’s top directors, only 2 percent were Latino. El Rey Network is helping to ensure that Latinos are not only fully represented on screen but also ensures audiences get the chance to see Latino characters in roles other than criminals and immigrants, of which TV shows such as the popular Law & Order franchise is especially prone to do, and allows for on screen actors and those in the Latino media to showcase more than a one-dimensional stereotype.

The often times negative image presented on TV of Latinos in America and the lack of alternatives also has unintended consequences on the development of Latino youth. Alex Nogales, president and CEO of the National Hispanic Media Coalition, recently commented that “as children we see ourselves in the characters around us. If that character is a blue-collar this, or a police officer that, then “that’s how we’ll perceive ourselves.”


National Journal