Latin representation in television and film has dropped to 2019 levels, according to a new diversity report from the Latino Donor Collaborative, a nonprofit organization that studies the Latin community in the US.
According to the 2022 report, the percentage of Latin stars, co-stars, showrunners, and directors all declined from 2021 to 2022. Last year saw 2.6 percent Latin leads on television, up from 2.9 percent the year before; 2.6 percent co-leads in 2022 versus 3.7 percent in 2021; 1.4 percent of showrunners last year, up from 2.5 percent the year before; and 1.5 percent Latin drivers versus 2.5 percent in 2021.
Film projects also saw a drop in Latin representation, including stars, screenwriters and directors between 2021 and 2022. Latin stars made up 5.1 percent of films in 2022, more than two percent less than the year before. In terms of co-stars, however, there was a brief increase: 4.5 percent of co-lead ensembles were led by Hispanic people, up from 4.3 percent in 2021. Latin American screenwriters and directors both made up 6.9 percent of those in the industry, and both fell below 3 percent by 2022.
The LDC report drew attention to specific streaming and premium cable networks that had zero Latin leads across their various programs by 2022: HGTV, Discovery, TLC, and HBO. Netflix had two Latin American leads in its 124 series, while AppleTV+ only had one in its 44 shows.
In a few case studies in the report, season 23 of Law & Order: special unit for victims was randomly selected to analyze the inaccurate characterization of Hispanic people in the mainstream media. It pointed to three ways the community is inaccurately portrayed in the series: Latin people make up 30 percent of the New York Police Department, but there is only one Latin officer as a co-leader in the series; the co-lead has a backstory of growing up in an abusive family and was briefly forced to work for the Mexican cartel as a child; and many of the Latin characters on the show were cast as criminals or victims of violent crimes.
The report also looked at a case study for films, particularly futuristic films. The organization looked at 10 future-themed films released between 2014 and 2023, none of which featured a Latin star, co-star, director or screenwriter. The organization studied Interstellar, Ready Player One, Infinite, Lightyear, The Tomorrow War, Dual, Apollo 10 1/2: A Space Age Childhood, Monsters of California, After Yang And Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.
The Hispanic population is the largest minority in the US, accounting for 19 percent of Americans, according to the report, yet they are the most underrepresented group in the media. Latin stars make up just 9.29 percent of on-screen viewing in streaming, 2.33 percent in cable, and 5.42 percent in broadcast.