Some powerful Latinx voices in entertainment have put their support behind an open letter to Hollywood peers and gate keepers in hopes of addressing the shortcomings in the industry’s efforts to improve diversity.
Lin-Manuel Miranda, “Riverdale” executive producer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, “One Day at a Time” executive producer Gloria Calderon Kellett, John Leguizamo and “Vida” executive producer Tanya Saracho are among the more than 200 creative leaders who signed the letter, released Thursday as Hispanic Heritage Month comes to a close. (Latinx is an inclusive term when referring to people of Latin American descent and used throughout the letter.)
“As Latinx Showrunners, Creators, TV and Feature Writers, we are incensed by the continued lack of Latinx representation in our industry, especially among the Black and Indigenous members of our community. Our stories are important, and our erasure onscreen contributes to the persistent prejudice that prevents real change in this country,” they wrote. “This prejudice is not as overt as the one that keeps immigrant children in cages and separates families at the border, or as violent as the racism that is killing our Black, Brown, and Indigenous community members at the hands of police. But when we are onscreen, we’re often relegated to stereotypes or villains.”
The letter goes on to make recommendations for systematic change, including ways to fix the Hollywood pipeline that often holds writers and creators of Latinx descent back, when compared to peers.
Other suggestions aim to fix the way stories about the Latinx population are told. It is unacceptable, they said, for stories about Latinx people to not be crafted by or including a writer who understands that story first-hand.
“Make room for us to tell our own stories. It is not enough to hire one Latinx writer and expect them to be the sole representative of a vast and heterogeneous group of people,” they wrote. “While we recognize that writers can tell stories about an array of voices and experiences, until the Latinx community is close to reaching parity, we need to be included in the telling of our own stories.”
Improvements also need to be made, they stated, in how the types of Latinx stories that are told. Being portrayed as “stereotypes or villains” does not count as representation or inclusion, the letter added.
“Make sure the projects you greenlight reflect the diversity of our population. We are a diaspora from more than 20 different countries,” they wrote. “We are more than our trauma. We write stories of joy, origin stories, genre stories, children’s stories, and much more. We demand to be seen and heard in our entirety.”
The group called action on these points by their Hollywood peers “critical.”
“Stories are powerful. Stories change the world. Let’s get on the right side of history so we can continue to create needed change and tell captivating stories together.”