There are 326,766,748 people in the United States and 52 million people are Latinos, the second largest ethnic group in the United States. Latinos make up 16.7 percent of the population in the United States. But why are they not represented on the big screen?
When Latinos are on the big screen, they are secondary characters with stereotypes such as gangsters, loud latina women, labor workers, and Latin lovers. Latinos are never the star nor the lead. When roles are made for Latinos, people tend to cast the whiter version of it. Catherine Zeta-Jones played Elena Montero in the film Zorro when Shakira and Salma Hayek, both latina women, were considered for the role. Then just recently Zeta-Jones played the famous Colombian drug lord Griselda Blanco for the lifetime movie The Godmother. Scarface follows the rise of a Cuban drug lord but they cast Al Pacino an Italian-American actor. They could have had Benicio Del Toro or Javier Bardem. Natalie Wood, an American actress, played Maria, Puerto Rican girl in the famous musical West Side Story. They could have had Rita Moreno as Maria instead of Anitta.
In the Academy Awards for 2018, I found out that only two Latinos were nominated and two latino films. Guillermo Del Toro was nominated for his work of The Shape of Water.The Shape of Water has the most nominations for this years Academy Awards with 13 nominations. Carlos Saldanha is nominated for Ferdinand. A Fantastic Woman is Chilean film nominated for Best Foreign Language Film. Coco is nominated for Best Animated Film. I tried to figure out if any Latinos could play the leads in the nominees for best picture, they could not. That is when I figured out that people are not even writing roles for Latinos.
Jaime Camil, a Mexican-born actor and the father from Jane the Virgin, spoke to Slate Magazine and said “ “It’s ridiculous right now … Gina Rodriguez and everybody at the show, we were outraged about the fact that SAG-AFTRA and other award shows didn’t nominate one single Latino in their shows. It is not that we want to get an award for free, like, ‘Oh, the poor Latinos, throw them a little bone. Throw them a little award just for them not to feel ignored.’ No, no, no. F**k you. It’s not about that.” He then went on to call out the Academy Awards for not nominating people of color or recognizing them.
In the 90 year history of the Academy Awards, Latinos have been nominated 16 times and six have won. Till this day it has been six years since a Latino actor has been nominated for an Academy Award. Latino actors and actresses can play any role one gives but they are not given the chance. The stories of Latino writers are silenced by the same old biopic from a white writer. The rich stories of Latino history are being whitewashed.