Jan 24, 2023 - World

"Black Panther" actor Tenoch Huerta calls out Hollywood colorism

Actor Tenoch Huerta sits on a couch, holds a microphone to his face and looks off to the side during a press event in Mexico City

Tenoch Huerta speaks in Mexico City on Nov. 9, 2022. Photo: Agustin Cuevas/Getty Images for Disney

"Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" breakout star Tenoch Huerta called out colorism in the film and television industry during an event at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah this past weekend.

Details: Huerta, who made the remarks at a Latinx House event, said Latinos with lighter complexions are cast more often than actors with darker complexions, like him.

  • When Latino actors are cast, he noted, they are often portrayed as stereotypical characters such as criminals or nannies.

What they're saying: "Those characters, they don't have any power. They don't have any influence in the story. They are just background. That's the problem," he said.

  • One factor that contributes to that issue, he said, is that many filmmakers in Latin America are white men from affluent backgrounds.
  • That contributes to a distorted point of view about poverty and social inequality in Mexico, he said.
  • White-passing Latinos should acknowledge their privilege and "help the people because we are a community," Huerta added.

By the numbers: Latinos account for nearly 19% of the U.S. population, but represented about 7% of film leads in 2021, according to the annual Hollywood Diversity Report by the UCLA College of Social Sciences.

Our thought bubble, via Axios Latino co-author Marina E. Franco: Huerta's comments, which he also makes in his book "Orgullo prieto/Brown Pride," echo an issue that is pervasive in Mexico, where TV shows and news stations mostly show lighter-skinned Mexicans.

  • Recent studies have shown that disparities in access to jobs and education can be traced to skin tone, in addition to other causes.
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