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Little Latino visibility in mainstream media, report says, but content dominates streaming

Latino representation in Hollywood hasn't changed much in the last 5 years, yet over half of the most streamed songs this summer are by Latino artists.
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A pedestrian walks past posters in Washington Heights, N.Y., on June 11, 2021.Spencer Platt / Getty Images file

Despite the growth and consumer power of U.S. Latinos, they continue to be significantly underrepresented in media, according to a new report.

Latinos represent 1 in 4 potential American TV and film viewers and help bring in 20% to 30% of the industry's revenue, depending on the platform, and more than 50% of its growth, according to a study released Friday by the nonprofit Latino Donor Collaborative.

Yet, analyzing trends over the last five years, the study found Latinos accounted for 5.2% of leads in films, 5.1% of co-leads/ensemble actors, 3.5% of screenwriters and 2.6% of directors. Of the lead roles, half were positive representations and half were negative.

The study measured films from the annual top 100 films in theaters and over-the-top platforms, as well as prime-time, original, new and returning TV shows. It found that Latinos are the largest minority group, yet the most underrepresented in media.

On TV shows, Latinos made up 3.1% of lead actors, 2.1% of co-leads/ensemble actors and 1.5% of showrunners.

There are no Latino CEOs or film and production company chairs, important decision-making roles that help greenlight stories and steer content. Only 5.7% of senior executives in show production are Latino.

Amid the lack of representation, more Latinos are turning to social media platforms and brands for content, such as YouTube, TikTok and Snapchat, the report found. The report also noted that 11 of the 20 most streamed songs of the summer, according to Spotify, are by Latino artists.

The report argues that the current levels of Latino representation are not sustainable for media companies if they seek to tap the rapid and robust purchasing power of Hispanics, who have a younger median age (29) than their non-Latino counterparts (38).

“Unfortunately, and based on the invisibility of this community on screen and behind the camera, Hollywood does not seem to have a strategy to address the U.S. Latino market,” Sol Trujillo, a co-founder and the chairman of the board at the Latino Donor Collaborative, wrote in the report.

From 2010 to 2019, the purchasing power of Latinos increased by 69%. In 2019, they accounted for 23% of all moviegoers and bought $2.9 billion (29%) of all box office tickets sold in English-language films.

“Although there has been tremendous diversity advancement in Hollywood in recent years, the Latino community lags behind at all levels of representation. A lack of strategy to include Latinos, the largest and fastest growing minority, directly translates into money being left on the table and opportunities missed,” Ana Valdez, the Latino Donor Collaborative’s president and CEO, said in the report.

To boost the hiring of Latino talent, the organization has created a free database, the Latino Source for Hollywood, which includes 3,000 names of experienced actors, writers and directors who have worked with leading networks or studios in the last five years.

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