HOLLYWOOD (CNS) — Of the 100 top-grossing domestic features from each of the past 12 years, Latinx characters make up only 4.5 percent of all speaking roles, it was reported.
The finding came out of a study by the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative in association with the National Association of Latino Independent Producers and Wise Entertainment, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The report is entitled, “Latinos in Film: Erasure on Screen & Behind the Camera Across 1,200 Popular Movies.”
Only 3 percent of the films studied featured Latinx leads or co-leads. Seventeen, or 49 percent, of those leading or co-leading roles were women, but five of those 17 roles were played by a single actress: Cameron Diaz. Along with Diaz, the most frequently hired Latino actors were Jennifer Lopez, Eugenio Derbez and Jessica Alba.
Of the 1,200 titles, 568 did not feature a single Latinx speaking character, according to the Reporter.
The study also looked at the ways in which Latinx characters were portrayed onscreen, finding that 61.9 percent of all characters shown engaged in illegal activity and were part of an organized crime group such as gang members or drug dealers. One-sixth of all top-billed Latinx talent and one-eighth of all Latinx speaking characters were shown poor or impoverished on screen, according to the Reporter.
Historically, Hispanic audiences are disproportionately underrepresented onscreen in studio features, compared with their moviegoing population. In 2018, Hispanics made up 18 percent of the US population and 24 percent of the annual box office’s frequent moviegoers, according to the Motion Picture Association of America. Hispanic audiences made up the highest annual attendance per capita, going to the movie theater an average of 4.7 times in 2018.
According to the Latinos in Film study cited by the Reporter, 77 percent of 50 US states, as well as two territories, have a higher percentage of Latin populations than what we currently see in Hollywood films.
As with previous Annenberg studies, the lack of onscreen representation was mirrored in behind-the-camera representation. Of the 3,616 produced-by credits on the 1,200 feature films, only 3 percent were held by Latinx producers, while only 4 percent of directors were Latinx. When a Latino director was attached to a film, the percentage of Latino characters onscreen increased from 4 percent to 13 percent, according to the Reporter.