Thanks, Hollywood. For as many strides as Latinos (and specifically, Latinas) are making on the screen, it seems like not much has changed. A new study has shown that less than 5 percent of actors in top Hollywood films are Hispanic, while Latinas are more likely than any other group of women to appear partially or fully naked on screen.
Yes, it seems the “sexy” Latina stereotype is alive and well: Latinas represent 37.5 percent of all female nudity (partial or full) on-screen. White women account for 31.9 percent of full or partial nudity, while black women come in at 23.5 percent. And Latinos? They don’t fare much better either: they are more likely to be seen in “tight, alluring or revealing” clothing (16.5 percent) than any other group.
“Hispanics and Latinos are one of the fastest-growing groups in the U.S.,” said Marc Choueiti, one of the authors of the study. “If popular films were the only way to gauge diversity, viewers would be completely unaware of this. Individuals from this group are almost invisible on screen.”
Actress Alma Martinez, most recently seen on FX’s The Bridge, told KPCC that the “hot Latina stereotype” has been seen since silent films and continues to this day.
“You’re looking at Lupe Vélez, Carmen Miranda, Salma Hayek,” Martinez said. “They’re sexualized Latina women. And they have an accent.” But don’t mistake her for saying these women don’t have talent: “They’re excellent,” Martinez said. “It’s [the roles] Hollywood gives them.”
Moreover, speaking parts for minorities is, in a word, abysmal. Only about 5 percent of all speaking roles in top movies were Hispanic. In 2010, just 1.5 percent of speaking parts were given to any racial minority. Seriously?
“In reality, we saw no meaningful difference in the representation of characters from underrepresented backgrounds across the six years we studied,” said Stacy Smith. Smith is an author and director of the study.
Latinos make up 16.3 percent of the U.S. population and buy 25 percent of all tickets at the box office, yet we are still one of the most underrepresented demographics when it comes to on-screen time and speaking roles.
Despite what it seems Hollywood wants us to do (be quiet and get naked), we’ll keep raising our voice to this issue until it changes. And we’ll do so with our clothes on.