As Hollywood's marquee names drove up to the Beverly Hilton Hotel for the annual Academy Awards luncheon on Monday, protesters from the National Hispanic Media Coalition flanked the entrance to the parking garage to call attention to the lack of representation for Latinos in Hollywood.
The coalition has for many years worked to improve the situation in television and is now turning its attention to the film industry.
"Latinos, although we have been the largest minority group in the country ... for over a decade, we have the lowest representation of any major racial/ethnic group in front of the camera in movies," said Thomas A. Saenz, president and general counsel for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund. "And that can no longer be tolerated."
Leaders of the protest point out the fact that Latinos make up 18 percent of the U.S. population, but buy almost one-fourth of all movie tickets. Meanwhile, studies show that only 3.1 percent of speaking roles in movies in the past 10 years have gone to Latinos.
Alex Nogales, president and CEO of the National Hispanic Media Coalition, said it has been virtually impossible to get the attention of executives at the movie studios.
"Either they come and talk to us about what they're going to do about their problem," said Nogales, "or we're going to have to call them out by name and boycott their films."
The media coalition is planning another protest for March 3 — the day before the Academy Awards ceremony.