Leaders of Latinx groups reiterated their call Wednesday for a boycott of Paramount Pictures in response to what they said was the studio’s refusal to work with their groups to improve the studio’s record of hiring Latinx individuals in front of and behind the camera. Paramount, they added, was the worst of the six major studios in this regard.
The call came during a demonstration of about 75 protesters picketing in front of the studio’s Melrose Avenue gates, the second such demonstration in two months. Leaders delivered a petition signed by 12,307 people and addressed to Paramount chairman and CEO Jim Gianopulos.
“There’s an urgency to what we’re doing because of what Latinos are going through [under Trump],” said Alex Nogales, president and CEO of the National Hispanic Media Coalition. “How we’re perceived is the way we are treated,” he added, citing a spike in hate crimes since the president’s inauguration.
NHMC and a related organization, the National Latino Media Council, want Paramount to sign a memorandum of understanding pledging to work toward greater Latinx inclusivity. Broadcast networks — including Paramount cousin CBS — have signed such MOUs, the groups say, but Paramount is the first studio the groups have approached and it has refused. A meeting several months ago with Paramount COO Andrew Gumpert did not prove fruitful.
“They seemed interested, [but then] they told us we were too aggressive,” said National Hispanic Leadership Agenda chair Thomas A. Saenz. “Well, it’s time to be aggressive.”
On Tuesday, Saenz sent a letter to Gianopulos on behalf of the NHLA, a coalition of 45 national Latino civil rights and advocacy organizations, excoriating Paramount as “worst-performing movie studio with respect to Latino inclusion” and stating NHLA’s support for a campaign against the studio.
Paramount declined to comment anew on the protest, but pointed to a statement issued after the June meeting: “We recently met with NHMC in a good faith effort to see how we could partner as we further drive Paramount’s culture of diversity, inclusion and belonging. Under our new leadership team, we continue to make progress — including ensuring representation in front of and behind the camera in upcoming films such as Dora the Explorer, Instant Family, Bumblebee and Limited Partners — and welcome the opportunity to build and strengthen relationships with the Latinx creative community further.”
Nogales and other organizers said that only 3.1 percent of speaking roles in recent Paramount movies were Latinx, though an 18 percent share of the population and 24 percent share of the moviegoing audience are.
“They’re all bad, but Paramount is the worst,” said Saenz. “The other studios should be aware and beware, because we have them in our sights.”