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JLo is Hollywood’s idea of ​​a middle-aged Latina, based on the movies

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In the world that Hollywood has created, very few middle-aged and older Latina women are the main leads. The few who are are shapely Puerto Ricans, with thin legs, agelessness and glorious tresses.

Hollywood has had a lead or co-lead character played by a Latina 45 or older in just five of the top 1,600 grossing films in 16 years. In three of those five films, Jennifer Lopez played the role, according to a new study from the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative. The group is based at the University of Southern California.

Lopez starred as an older woman who has a tryst with her 19-year-old neighbor in “The Boy Next Door”, as a big box store employee who lands a job as a high profile in “Second Act” and in the romantic comedy “Marry Me”.

“JLo is amazing and she continues to succeed, but there are storylines and people who represent the nuance and diversity of this community; most just don’t have the opportunity,” said Stacy Smith, founder of the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, a think tank on inequality in the entertainment industry.

“If we try to think about the complex and multidimensional nature of this community, there is a complete disconnect if JLo has to represent all Latinas 45 and older. The people who are giving the green light or allocating resources to this community don’t understand anything about the community,” Smith said.

Overall, only 14 Hispanic or Latino actors over the age of 45 played leading roles in the 1,600 films made between 2007 and 2022. And in leading roles across all ages, only 4.4% were played by a Hispanic actor.

Only one protagonist was played by an Afro Latina, Nathalie Emmanuel in “The Invitation,” among the 100 highest-grossing films of 2022, and eight Afro Latinos played lead or co-lead roles in the 1,600 films made between 2007 and 2022.

Only three U.S.-born Latino actors played leads or co-leads in films made in 2022. Over the 16 years studied, the majority of U.S.-born Latino actors who were leads or co-leads did not were hired only once during this period. .

The study found no cases of a U.S.-born Latino being cast as the protagonist or co-lead in more than one film.

Overall, actresses have recently seen slight progress in their presence in Hollywood films. They made up 37% of all speaking characters in the top 100 grossing films of 2022, up from 34% in 2021, according to the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University.

However, Latinas saw their presence drop from 9.5% in 2021 to 7% in 2022, according to this study.

Fewer budgets for films with Latino protagonists

Smith’s examination of costs and expenses for films and their scores from Metacritic, which aggregates film reviews and scores them using a mathematical formula, showed that although films with a Latino protagonist had higher Metacritic scores, less was spent to make and market them. , and they were in fewer rooms.

She said the scores meant films with Latino protagonists were better but made less money. Although films with Latino protagonists made as much money at the box office as those with non-Latino lead actors, the study found that actors and people working on films with Latino protagonists were paid less, Smith said.

“It’s the whole issue of having to work twice as hard to get halfway there,” Smith said. “This community is not valued by those who make decisions within the executive branch. »

Ana-Christina Ramón is director of the Entertainment and Media Research Initiative at the University of California, Los Angeles, which produces the annual Hollywood Diversity Report.

The initiative released its 10th annual report this year examining the relationship between diversity and finances in the top 200 English-language theatrical films released worldwide and the top 100 English-language streaming films.

His study showed that Latinos held 2.3% of lead roles in theatrical films examined, compared to 78.4% for white actors. Latinos fare better in streaming with 6% of leads, compared to 66.7% held by white actors.

Ramón said the initiative resulted in similar results in terms of budgets and resources, with films made by women and people of color receiving less money than those made by white men. The director is the best indicator of the type of budget a film has.

“Particularly for people of color, you’ll find that there will be a main character who is a man of color and if he has a white director, then he’s fine,” Ramón said.

“It was very difficult to make your film when you’re the director and you’re a person of color, or when you’re a white woman,” she said. Directors of color tended to have more diverse casts, and even when a director of color had white management, they often had fewer resources.

Rep. Joaquín Castro, Democrat of Texas, has taken a hard look at racial diversity and representation in the media industry. He commissioned a two-part Government Accountability Office study that made several recommendations after similar findings, including better data sharing between the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Federal Communications Commission, which regulates the media, regarding discrimination.

The lack of diversity among media personnel “has led to unbalanced and unequal representations that then create stigma for an entire community,” Castro said in 2022.


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