As Hispanic Heritage Month ends once again, 273 Latinx artists in the industry have come together to advocate against the exclusion of Latinx stories in both film and television in a letter addressed to Hollywood.
Side note: Latinx is the gender neutral term for people of Latin descent.
The letter, which was a product of the Untitled Latinx Project, states that all these creatives came together due to their disapproval of the constant lack of representation in media, especially when it comes to Indigenous and Black members of the community. According to them, this lack of representation leads to real world consequences.
“Our stories are important, and our erasure onscreen contributes to the persistent prejudice that prevents real change in this country,” the letter states. “When we are onscreen, we’re often relegated to stereotypes or villains.”
Another aspect of the letter talks about the disconnect between the amount of Latinx writers involved in some projects about Latinx stories. In the letter, it states that even though the Latinx community makes up 18.3% of the United States populations, they also only make up 4.7% of feature writers and 8.7% of television writers. For these creatives, this means their stories are usually told through the filter of someone else’s culture.
“By refusing to tell our stories AND by refusing to put us in charge of telling them — Hollywood power brokers are complicit in our exclusion,” the letter states. “We are tired of hearing ‘we couldn’t find any Latinx writers to hire.'”
With this, the letter also states a list of five demands for change within the industry:
1. No Stories About Us Without Us
In this demand, the artists ask that they be included in projects about their own stories and hiring more than just one writer to “be the sole representative of a vast and heterogeneous group of people.” Under the demand, the letter contains three links that provide lists of Latinx writers.
The demand also asks that non-Latinx writers who are offered positions in Latinx-centered projects with no Latinx writer, director or producer consider finding someone who is to collaborate with or pass on the position to advocate for a Latinx writer.
“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,” the letter states.
2. Greenlight Our Projects
In this demand, the artists ask that more of their projects be greenlighted and not just bought. The letter states that buying the pilots to stories are not enough since many of these series are never put into production.
“With the recent commercial and critical success of ‘Pose,’ ‘One Day at a Time,’ ‘Vida,’ and ‘Gentefied,’ it’s clear that Latinx stories find loyal audiences and receive accolades,” the letter states.
3. Represent All Aspects Of Our Lives and Culture
With this demand, the artists asks that there be more projects that show the diversity of the Latinx population. The demand lists many ways in which Latinx people can be represented differently including country of origin, other racial identity, sexual orientation, physical ability, and religious background.
“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 letter states.
4. Do Away With Repeating Levels
Focusing on the television industry, this demand asks that writers receive the same advancement and regular promotion of their non-Latinx White counterparts. The letter also states that these writers are usually kept in staff writer positions for years due to being dismissed as diversity hires.
“Our talent is wasted for years at the lower ranks, keeping us from Showrunner positions,” the letter states. “Rather than hold us back, invest in our growth.”
5. Hire Us For Non-Latinx Projects
In the final demand, the artists ask that they be consider for more than just “identity stories.” Calling back to the ending statement of the first demand, the letter states Latinx writers can write non-Latinx stories as much as other writers can write theirs.
“Because we are steeped in the dominant culture, we speak at least two, if not more, cultural languages, well versed in yours as much as we are in ours,” the letter states. “Our voices and our perspective will undoubtedly enhance yours and that of all Americans.”
In ending the letter, the artists ask that their peers will consider it as they continue to demand an industry that “sees us, hears us, and values our contributions so that the world will do the same through the stories we tell.”
The letter, which had 273 signatures, featured many prominent Latino writers and actors. Some of the biggest names include “Riverdale” creator and showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, “Hamilton” and “In the Heights” actor and composer Lin-Manuel Miranda, stand-up comedian and actor Felipe Esparza and “Ice Age” and “When They See Us” actor John Leguizamo.