Lin-Manuel Miranda, John Leguizamo and "One Day at a Time" co-creator Gloria Gloria Calderon Kellett are among 270 showrunners, creators, television and film writers who are calling for systemic change in the entertainment industry in regard to Latinx artists.
The group of writers and producers outlined their concerns in an open letter to Hollywood written in conjunction with Hispanic Heritage Month, which ends today. "We are tired," they write.
In the letter, the signatories contend that "Hollywood power brokers are complicit in our exclusion," noting that just 4.7% of feature writers and 8.7% of TV writers are Latinx, despite making up 18.3% of the U.S. population overall. Among the five demands laid out in the letter, the writers note the importance of hiring more Latinx talent, including in in decision-making roles like creator/showrunner: "No stories about us without us."
The letter is part of an initiative started by the Untitled Latinx Project (ULP), an all-Latina advocacy group founded by Tanya Saracho, showrunner of the Starz drama "Vida," to increase representation of Latinx-created stories for television.
Read the full letter below.
As we come to the end of Hispanic Heritage Month in the midst of a global pandemic and continued racial injustice, many of us in the Latinx community have found it difficult to celebrate. Inspired by the activism of the Black and Indigenous communities, many of whom also identify as Latinx, we stand in solidarity with our fellow Black, Native and Indigenous writers, co-signing their WGAW Open Letters and echoing their demands for systemic change in our industry.
As Latinx Showrunners, Creators, TV and Feature Writers, we are incensed by the continued lack of Latinx representation in our industry, especially among the Black and Indigenous members of our community. Our stories are important, and our erasure onscreen contributes to the persistent prejudice that prevents real change in this country. This prejudice is not as overt as the one that keeps immigrant children in cages and separates families at the border, or as violent as the racism that is killing our Black, Brown, and Indigenous community members at the hands of police. But when we are onscreen, we're often relegated to stereotypes or villains. And as a recent New York Times OpEd states, "White elites cannot muffle a huge, vibrant community for decades and not expect consequences. For Latinos in the Trump era, these consequences are deadly, from Hurricane Maria to the Walmart shooting in El Paso and the pandemic, as well as soaring hate crimes."
Writers create television and films, the arenas where national conversations about culture take place. But while Latinx are 18.3% of the U.S. population, we only make up 4.7% of feature writers and 8.7% of TV writers. As Latinx writers move up to Showrunner level, the stats only get more dismal.
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.