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. Click here
for part 1 of Latinos in Media and Entertainment.
Interview recorded Sept 6, 2017.
Traynham: Felix, I remember reading about -- In the 1950s and ?60s, very prominent African-Americans would go to Hollywood and say "No, no. We're here. We don't want to be represented just as the help. We want to be seen as the lead actor or the lead actress." In other words, there was a groundswell movement, if you will, in the African-American community. It feels like that's happening now in the Latino community. Is that accurate? Sanchez: You know, there's a parallel experience here, and here's the sad part -- We are about 30 years behind the African-American experience in entertainment.
Traynham: Really? 30 years? Sanchez: Yeah. 30 years. And those numbers just simply are not there. The leads are not there. I mean, you're starting to see series regulars where, you know, you're a part of the show, and they -- you go to the website, and you?ll see the cast, and you?re in the cast, and you get a good enough amount of lines and story lines related to your character. But you're still not, you know, the sole opener like Shemar Moore is, you know, in "S.W.A.T.," about to occur. That is one of the few shows that has that kind of lead. We saw that with "24," as well, and yet that show did not get the ratings that it should have gotten, and that was, you know, a very big, promoted -- heavily promoted show. So, a lot of it is not just that the content has to be good, the writing has to be, you know, spectacular. And I think that one of the shows on the Latino side that made a huge difference was "American Crime" on ABC. It presented a very contemporary look at all different ethnicities and races, and it was a very compelling drama that lasted three seasons. But, again, you know, this is the kind of directional that I think is gonna succeed in television and in film.
Traynham: Felix, are you -- Here it is, obviously 2017. Are you optimistic that, say, the next five, the six years that there will be a rich tapestry of Latino representation, not only on the screen but behind the camera, as well -- the screenwriters, the casting directors, and so forth?
Sanchez: Well, one of the programs that we created at The National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts is a program we call "Quarum Call," and it -- A quorum is, you know, is a Latin word. It means "majority." But it's also a Spanish word. If you put the accent on the O, it's "Quarum," and it's a kind of a clarion call for content creators to come and pitch their content ideas to different media platforms, and that has been very successful because we mentor students at the graduate-school level at eight universities -- at NYU, Columbia, Yale, Harvard, Northwestern, USC, UCLA, and the University of Texas at Austin, and these kids are the best and the brightest, and they are the emerging filmmakers of their generation.
Traynham: So you're building the pipeline, if you will.
Sanchez: And that is what we're doing -- collateral programs to support their launch into the entertainment industry.
Traynham: Well, Felix Sanchez, I look forward to having you back on the program -- not only five years from now, but very, very soon to get a status check to see where we are with this very, very important topic. Thank you for joining us. Sanchez: Thank you, Robert. Traynham: And thank you for joining us, as well. For more great conversations with leaders in your community and across the nation,visit comcastnewsmakers.com. I'm Robert Traynham.