Sep 27, 2022 - Economy

New report calls out U.S. media for lack of Latino representation

Representation of Latinos in shows and films, 2022
Data: 2022 LDC Latinos in Media Report; Chart: Axios Visuals

Latinos continue to be significantly underrepresented in U.S. films and TV series, despite the fact that the group represents nearly one-fifth (20%) of the total U.S. population and $2.8 trillion in total economic output, a new report finds.

Why it matters: The report provides representation information by company, calling out specific studios and networks for their lack of Latino representation across acting roles, screenwriting and directing.

  • "For whatever reason, studios haven't done enough," said Ana Valdez, president and CEO of the Latino Donor Collaborative (LDC), the nonprofit group that published the report. "It doesn't make business sense."
  • The LDC is a nonpartisan group that's backed by its members, who are mostly prominent U.S. Latino business leaders. It funds economic research about the U.S. Latino community.

Details: The report finds that so far in 2022, Latinos represented only 3.1% of lead actors in TV shows and 2.1% of co-lead/ensemble actors. Only 1.5% of TV showrunners and 1.3% of directors were Latino.

  • In film, Latinos represented just 5.2% of lead actors and 5.1% of co-lead/ensemble actors. Only 3.5% of screenwriters and 2.6% of directors were Latino.

By the numbers: Most TV networks and movie studios have few Latinos represented across their programming, but some stand out more than others.

  • The report measures all new and returning shows with premiere dates between Jan. 1 and Aug. 31 in prime time (8–11pm) on broadcast and cable and all new shows on streaming.
  • It calls out CBS as a broadcaster that is "going backwards in Latino representation."

Cable and premium cable networks have even worse representation numbers than broadcasters, according to the report. None of the 331 shows on cable surveyed this year across 25 networks included Latino showrunners.

  • Discovery, HGTV, TLC and HBO, all owned by Warner Bros Discovery, have zero Latino leads across their 27, 37, 23 and 28 prime-time shows, respectively, the study finds.
  • Netflix has just two Latino leads across all of its 124 shows. Apple TV+ has one across 44 shows.

Between the lines: For years, the LDC has shared the findings of its annual media representation report privately with Hollywood executives, but it's making the latest report public for the first time to shine a light on the lack of progress, Valdez said.

  • The study finds that representation has barely grown in the past five years, and in some categories, it's declined. Just 1.3% of Latinos directed TV series in 2022, compared to 3.5% in 2018 and 3.7% in 2020.

The big picture: Hollywood has been making some strides in equal representation in film and TV, but data shows Latinos have not made the same progress as Black Americans and Asian Americans. According to data from Nielsen cited in the report:

  • Black people represent 16.12% of those in streaming shows, compared to 13.6% of the U.S. population.
  • Asian people represent 11.18% of those in streaming shows, compared to 6.1% of the U.S. population.
  • Latinos represent 9.29% of those in streaming shows, compared to 19% of the U.S. population.

The bottom line: "Other communities and groups have advanced tremendously, but Latinos keep lagging behind. We don't understand it. We don't see the business premise happening as it should," Valdez said.

  • "Quite frankly, we're baffled."

What's next: As a part of making the report public, LDC has released a list of more than 3,000 Latino actors, showrunners, screenwriters and directors for Hollywood to pull from when evaluating talent for roles.

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Editor’s note: This story has been corrected to reflect that Black people, Asian people and Latinos represented 16.12%, 11.18% and 9.29% of those in streaming shows, respectively (not that 16.12% of Black people, 11.18% of Asian people and 9.29% of Latinos were represented in streaming shows). Its headline has been corrected to reflect the story was not exclusive to Axios. 

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