Latino, long rejected in Hollywood, push to hear voice

Tanya Sarcho In 2012 the Lifetime soap landed its first television writing assignment on “Dayd Maids”. He was a diversified fare.

It is an official term for a practice intended to encourage inclusion. In an effort to create writers’ rooms – longtime white men’s strongholds – the more diverse, studio minorities pay the writer’s salary so the show doesn’t have to. Ms. Saracho considers the idea great but at the same time problematic.

In a recent video interview, Ms. Saracho, 44, said, “You get marginalized by other people and then you are expected to be a culture negotiator and protector and protector of every culture.” “It’s a big burden. I quit almost every day. “

Instead, Ms. Saracho steadfastly prospered in an industry she didn’t always welcome: a queue writer interested in exploring her Mexican-American heritage on television. She wrote for HBO’s “Looking” and “Girls” and spent time on Shonda Rhimes’s “How to Get Away with Murder”. His big break came when Marta Fernandez, senior vice president of original programming at Starz, invited him to create a show, “Vida,” about two sisters returning to the former Los Angeles neighborhood of Boyle Heights to harass their mom . The show, which made its debut in 2018, dealt with issues of Gentrification and assimilation through family spectacles. It was well reviewed and presented as an example for three seasons when potential vowels are given a chance to succeed.

But “Vida” was canceled in March. ABC then finished the only network TV show in June with the Latino cast, “The Baker and the Beauty”. And although CBS kicked off the fourth season of the Latino-centric reboot of “One Day at a Time” in October, the fate of the show is unclear. (Netflix first canceled it in 2019.)

For many Latino working in Hollywood, it seems that each gain is soon a loss, a constant ebb and flow after which one never feels improved.

Ms. Saracho began her career as a playwright in Chicago, where she established a theater company and an alliance for Latin playwrights, “Vida ‘does exist, but’ Vida ‘is now gone.” “‘One day at a time’ is still gone. We have not arrived.”

According to a study by the Writers Guild of America West released in June, Hispanic-Latino population is 18.3 percent, they only represent 4.7 percent of feature film writers and 8.7 percent of television writers. A 2019 study by the University of Southern California’s Annaberg Inclusion Initiative named Hollywood’s treatment of Latino as “an erior” in front of the camera.

Critical stats, coupled with personal experience, inspired Ms. Saracho, Gloria Calderone Kellett (“Once a Day”) and 16 other Latina show-honors, forming the Untitled LatinX Project Group to promote their own cause Huh.

In mid-October, on the last day of National Hispanic Heritage Month, the group Gave an open letter Hollywood has called for a change in an industry that has been ignoring them for a long time. It includes the names of 276 Latino creative people, including film screenwriters and famous names such as Lynn Manuel-Miranda, John Leguizamo, Eva Longoria, and writer and producer Phil Lord (“Spiderman: In the Spidervert”). And it made specific demands: stop telling our stories without us, start making our projects more green, reflect the diversity of our population and put us to work for projects not about the Latina community Huh.

The letter came to Hollywood’s inbox shortly before the 2020 election, which shed a light on the diversity of Latino in the United States. Latino’s are the second largest voting group in the country, but they defy Blanket classification. For example, Latino in Florida and Texas, including many of Cuban and Venezuelan lineages, leaned toward President Trump, while young progressive Latino in Arizona, including a number of Mexican ancestry, Joseph R. Biden Jr. supported.

It was a stacker reminder that categorized Puerto Ricans, Cubans, Mexican-Americans, and others into an unbroken racial group, as Hollywood has done for decades, underscoring their heteronormative experiences and concerns. Stacey L. Smith, founder of USC’s Annberg Inclusion Initiative, said in an interview that Latino characters in Hollywood films were often portrayed as “criminals, as low-income, immigrants, isolated, hungry.” is.

Representative Joaquin Castro, a Democrat from Texas who leads the Congressional Hispanic Congress, argued that these statements have real-world consequences. In Recent column In the Hollywood trade publication Variety, he wrote, “You can draw a clear line from the widespread lack of positive Latino representation onscreen for the rise in hate crimes against our communities.”

The Untitled LatinX Project is one of the groups trying to change it. Last year, the women partnered with Franklin Leonard and his company, The Black List, to promote the best unproduced screenplays in Hollywood to create an early Latinx TV list. It features one hour and half hour original pilots written by at least one Latino writer and features a Latino or Latin American character in a lead role. The top three finishers struck deals with streaming service Hulu. Multiple secure agency representation.

Mr. Leonard said, “We have found 10 great writers who are just as latex as good as anyone else who is already a professional writer.”

Such findings, advocates say, show how the Hollywood issue is not a lack of creative voices to choose from, but a lack of executives ready to take a chance and nurture new talent.

“If people say they are committed to diversity and inclusion, they will make different choices,” Ms. Calderone Kellett said. “That’s why Tanya and I are so loud to talk about the inequality that we constantly see and are trying to call for some real changes.”

Ms. Saracho, for one, recognizes that without Ms. Fernandez in Starz, “goodbye” never happens. “Who knows how he championed me and the battles I had never seen,” said Ms. Saracho, who encouraged her to direct. “This is what happens when you are one of you in the palace.”

But Ms. Fernandez left Starz last year for a job running a television department at Macro, a production and finance company aimed at raising voices of color. In addition to developing new shows with writers of color, she is also grooming color executives, which she hopes will one day land decision-making spots in the studio.

Ms. Saracho and Ms. Calderone Kellett will continue on their own paths. Ms. Calderone Kellett signed an overall agreement with Amazon Studios last year. Ms. Saracho signed with NBCUniversal’s television studio, Universal Content Productions, this August, which, in addition to creating new shows, will create a talent incubator for Latina creators.

Ms. Saracho is now in London, teaming up with indie musician Johnny Flynn on a new pilot for UCP called “Love Story”, which is the focus of a heart-wrenching love story season. The debut will focus on two Mexican-American childhood friends living in London who fall in love with the same singer-songwriter. (Mr. Flynn is writing music and Ms. Saracho is helping to navigate the world of the anti-folk British indie music scene.)

Ms. Saracho is excited by the project and encouraged by the response her group’s letter received. But she knows that there is still a long way to go.

“I don’t understand why they don’t take a chance on us, but they’ll take a chance on the most tedious refeed-bean coop show,” she said. “I think it’s such a side effect of how we are seen in this country, in a stereotyped way, in a limited way. Those winds go up to Hollywood and it splashes everywhere. It’s sad . “

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