The Writers Guild is on strike standing up for fair pay and rights. If they don’t receive a fair contract, Latinos and people of color would be disproportionately impacted.

The strike underscores that Latinos, who make up 19% of the U.S. population, are already severely underrepresented, not just as writers but in all roles in Hollywood.

U.S. Latino representation in Hollywood went down for the last quarter of 2022 to 2019 levels. 

Only 2.6% of lead actors in shows, 1.4% of showrunners, and 1.5% of directors were Latino in 2022, according to the Latino Data Collaborative Think Tank. 

The think tank is the research branch of the Latino Donor Collaborative (LDC) and they released the 2022 Full-Year LDC U.S. Latinos in Media Report this month.

“No other American industry would allow this to happen,” said Ana Valdez, CEO of the LDC, said in a statement. “This data issues an urgent challenge for the entertainment industry to act. The standard corporate response of ‘We haven’t done very well with Latinos but hope to do better’ will no longer work.”

Sol Trujillo, global telecom leader and Chairman of the Latino Donor Collaborative, said in a statement that Hollywood is becoming more diverse but leaving Latinos behind. 

 “Even though Hollywood has created space for more diversity in the last years, this new representation has not included Latinos. Latinos are not only a vital part of the audience but an indispensable part of the talent, which crosses over and attracts all cohorts,” Trujillo said.

Netflix partnered with USC and the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative to analyze the inclusion data of the streaming service from 2018 to 2021.

Latinos acted in 4.5% of main cast roles on Netflix in 2021, up from 2.6% in 2018. That compares with 17.1% for Black actors and 9.4% for Asian actors. Only 1.9% of writers for Netflix films have been Latino, the study said.

Actor John Leguizamo of  “Latin History for Morons” and who has starred in more than 100 films has long advocated for more Latinos in Hollywood. He published an open letter in the Los Angeles Times last fall.

“When you walk anywhere in Los Angeles (except those gated communities), you see Latinos everywhere. That’s because the city is approaching 50% Latino. But where are we onscreen? That is cultural apartheid. The Latino population is larger than the white population in California, and yet we are not represented accordingly,” Leguizamo wrote. “That is cultural apartheid. In New York, the Latino population is equal to the white population, but you would never know it if you watched local TV or read our newspapers and magazines. The metrics are on our side, but the system is not.”

Latinos are practically invisible in Hollywood. 

“There’s a fix for this: cast more Latinos! We are nearly 20% of the population, so for every ten characters, two should be Latino. For every ten executives, two should be Latino. For every ten crew members, two should be Latino. For every ten films, two should be about Latino,” Leguizamo wrote.

We need more Latino writers, actors, casting directors, show runners, directors, producers. The talent and the people are out there. Hollywood just needs to finally let them in and then pay them what they’re worth.

Teresa Puente has spent her career reporting on immigration and Latino issues in the U.S. and has also reported extensively from Mexico. Previously, she was a staff reporter at the Chicago Tribune and...