"Coco" is seen as something of a love letter to Mexico and has been applauded for its authentic portrayal of Mexican culture. But as you tune into the glitz and glamour of the Oscars this Sunday, you might notice that most of the nominees are not Latino. We actually counted, and out of 41 people nominated in the actor, director, screenwriter categories, only one was Latino.
The last time a Latino won in the best actor category was 1951. No Latina woman has ever taken home the best lead actress award. This is in spite of the fact that Latinos make up 23% of frequent moviegoers. So, where's the representation?
Jorge Gutierrez is an academy member, artist and director. Gutierrez pointed out that while male Latino directors seem to be exempt from the lack or representation, the movies that have won them awards do not shine a light on Latinos or their experience.
Alfonso Cuaron won recently, Gonzalez Iñárritu won recently, hopefully, Guillermo's going to win this year... A lot of these films are not about Latino characters, and they're not dealing with the stories coming from that community.
And so actors are not being cast to represent those stories and therefore no one's getting nominated. If these stories aren't told, there's no way to have the actors represent those stories.
Where's the cohesive moment for Latinos?
Obviously, I'm speaking from my personal experience. the Latino community is a little more fragmented because there is a large Mexican American community here in L.A. Then, the Cuban American community in Florida and then Puerto Rican and Dominican...and they're all completely different.
So, it's going to be a little harder to get us all together. But I think it can happen and there are organizations out there that are really trying to help.
One of those organizations is the National Hispanic Media Coalition, which is hosting a protest in Hollywood ahead of the Academy Awards. More information on that is here.
We also have films like "Coco," showcasing more representation. Is it fair to say the tide might be turning?
I think so, and what I love about animation is, I really believe you can't change adult minds, they're already formed. But kids, they're still forming themselves and they're still forming their view of the world and I think that's the power of animated movies when we can showcase other cultures and when we can illuminate children into seeing other things.
Do you feel like this movement is finally on the verge of happening?
Absolutely, I think this is a great start, but emphasis should be put not only on the Academy Awards but on the studios themselves...
The only power the Latino community has is the consumer power, the amount of money we're spending. So if people stop going to movies and start going to other movies that have Latino characters, that moves the needle in Hollywood. That's the only thing that moves the needle.