Latinos in Media and Entertainment (part 1)

with Felix Sanchez of the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts

National Economy and Business

The Hispanic community is America’s largest ethnic minority, making up close to eighteen percent of the total U.S. population. However, Latinos remain underrepresented in the media, both in front of and behind the camera.

Felix Sanchez, Chairman and Co-founder of the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts discusses the state of Latinos in entertainment and media.  This discussion continues in part 2 of Latinos in Media and Entertainment.

Interview recorded Sept 6, 2017.  Hosted by Robert Traynham.  Part 1 of 2.

Read a partial transcript of this interview below:

Traynham: The Hispanic community is our nation´s largest ethnic minority group, comprising 18% of the U.S. population. Despite this fact, this population remains underrepresented in the entertainment industry. Hello, everyone, and welcome to “Comcast Newsmakers.” I´m Robert Traynham, and joining me is Felix Sanchez. He´s the chairman and co-founder of The National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts. Felix, welcome to the program.

Sanchez: Thank you.

Traynham: So, you know, the first question that I have to ask you is why is this the case? Why are Hispanics and Latinos underrepresented in the entertainment community?

Sanchez: You know, it´s been a long process of trying to understand this problem, and it doesn´t fall neatly into one category where it´s maybe in terms of television, the networks, or cable, or the casting directors, or the agents and managers, and so much of it is the content and the creators. So everybody has a little piece at stake, and not everybody wants to kind of take the risk on new actors with their brand-new show because they want the show to succeed, and they don´t want to take any risks with it. What we have said all along is that when you increase diversity you almost automatically expand the audience that wants to view that programing, and we´ve seen that steadfastly increase, and now I think on television and in cable you see a tremendous amount of Latino actors and actresses as series regulars, not just as peripheral characters, you know, in a scene.

Traynham: Felix, let me take your last point and kind of twist the question around a little bit. One would think that if the population is browning, if in fact there´s more and more “minorities” that are becoming the majority, one would think that, for lack of a better term, Hollywood would say, “Look, the country´s changing. We need to have programming that reflects that change.” Why isn´t it that simple?

Sanchez: You know, I think it´s a mind-set, and I think that — Everybody lives in their own bubble, and the entertainment industry has lived in their own bubble. Television has changed dramatically for the good. It´s film that has not. In fact, the Motion Picture Association of America in their 2016 theatrical statistical report said that 48% of the frequent moviegoer audience was comprised of African-Americans, Latinos, and Asians. That´s half your audience…

Traynham: Mm-hmm.

Sanchez: …and yet Latinos were only well-represented in one film in the entire last year. So, you know, that change has been very hard to make, and I think that part of it is that what happens a lot of times is that the agencies put together not only the content, but they attach talent to it, and so when you´re buying something you´re buying a complete package, and in that package they are not packaging and adding diversity.

Traynham: The conversation is only beginning, ladies and gentlemen. Click the link below for more of our discussion.