Fuse Advocates for More Latino Representation in Hollywood

As Hollywood prepares for Sunday’s Academy Awards, Fuse is shining a light on the underrepresentation of Hispanics among the major Oscar acting categories.

Fuse has teamed with the National Hispanic Media Coalition to bring more attention to the fact that none of the Oscar nominees for best actor or actress is Latino. Further, Latino actors and actresses have only garnered 16 nominations and six wins in 90 years, according to the Huffington Post.

The NHMC is planning to demonstrate the day before the Oscars to bring light to the disparity.

“We want to help them get the conversation going – they are the watchdog of Latinos in media, and they are there to elevate Latino voices on air and online, and that’s what we are here to do,” said Judi Lopez, Fuse senior vice president of distribution and affiliate marketing. “It’s important that we’re raising the issue and locking arms with them.”

Added NHMC president Alex Nogales: “We applaud Fuse for standing up for the Latino community by helping us drive awareness for this incredible inequity in representation. More media companies need to take notice and need to follow the example.”  

On Sunday, against the Oscars telecast, Fuse will air commercial-free the 2014 dramedy film Dear White People, which examines escalating racial tensions at a fictitious college. As part of that telecast, Fuse will also premiere several interstitials featuring footage from the 1950 classic film Cyrano de Bergerac, starring José Ferrer (pictured) -- the only Latino actor ever to win an Oscar for best actor. The remixed footage will use humor to call attention to the lack of Latino representation and provide thought-provoking facts on inclusion in entertainment, Fuse said.

“The interstitials are a play on what’s going on and how ludicrous the [Latino] representation – or lack thereof – is in the Oscar categories and in Hollywood,” Lopez said. 

Indeed, Latino actors and actresses represented only 3.1% of speaking roles in major Hollywood films from 2007 to 2016, Lopez said. With 56 million Hispanics in the U.S., the numbers are embarrassing.

The lack of Latino actors and actresses in prominent speaking roles may also be affecting Latino movie attendance. Lopez said Latinos represent 24% of movie ticket buyers today, down from 32% of movie ticket buyers just four years ago.

On the flip side, movies that have significant Latino representation and reflect the culture, such as Disney’s animated film Coco, can perform well at the box office. The Mexican folktale-themed film with a predominately Hispanic vocal cast has generated more than $208 million in domestic box office sales since its November 2017 release, according to Box Office Mojo.

“At 18% of the population, Latinos are still over-indexing on buying movie tickets, but you have to ask the question as to why those movie ticket buying numbers are down,” Lopez said. “Maybe its because they’re not seeing themselves represented in the movies, and representation and engagement is key. When you see yourself on television or in the movies, it resonates deeply.” 

Lopez said the network is in the planning stages of developing other initiatives that will continue to tackle the issues of inclusion and diversity beyond the Oscars both on its linear network and online. 

“This is going to have at least raised the issue during the moment in time we have here during the Oscars, and we’re going to keep on that mission,” she said. “I think there’s going to be a lot of visibility within the Latino community, and we’ll continue to look for opportunities to keep amplifying it.”

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.