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The National Association of Latino Independent Producers’ 20th annual Media Summit keynote luncheon kicked off Friday with board of directors co-chair Axel Caballero, HBO’s director of corporate social responsibility, declaring that “there is enough Hollywood money to go around. Trust me.”
Caballero sat down with Television Academy Foundation’s Karla Pita Loor to co-moderate the HBO Collabs + Fresh Voices panel, which featured three Latinx filmmakers who have received funding from NALIP: Henry Alberto, Marianne Amelinckx and Spider-Man: Far From Home actor Tony Revolori, who screened a teaser of his upcoming directorial debut, the short film Apartment.
Addressing an audience at the Ray Dolby Ballroom in Hollywood, the group discussed the importance of collaboration, with Alberto explaining that “Latinx communities come from a mentality there isn’t a place for us here.” Revolori agreed, drawing on his 21 years of experience as an actor in which he was often told he was “too Hispanic” to be cast in films and TV shows: “I remember going into my Spider-Man audition for Peter Parker, trying to convince myself why I deserved the role more than someone that was white.”
Venezuelan filmmaker Amelinckx, whose short Salta won a student prize at Tribeca in 2017, emphasized the need for more diversity on and off the camera in order to build a network for women, different ethnic groups and others not represented in the entertainment industry. Meanwhile, Alberto stressed the importance of breaking Latinx pop culture stereotypes, as he aims to do in one of his next projects, a film adaptation of the 2012 coming-of-age novel Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. “We are more than gardeners and maids,” he said. “I [was raised by] a psychologist and a professor. That is already breaking the mold.”
The second session was “On the Record,” with entertainment journalist KJ Matthews moderating a panel with NPR West correspondent Mandalit Del Barco, The Wrap senior film reporter Beatrice Verhoeven and The Hollywood Reporter’s own Rebecca Sun.
The women dove into conversation about the state of journalism and how often politics are brought into play within the entertainment industry. “Politics has become entertainment,” Sun said, adding that the political climate has made her aware of the importance of using precise language: “Don’t use the term ‘racially charged’ instead of ‘racist.’ It normalizes racism when you use a euphemism for it.”
In a climate in which the definition of journalism is often questioned, Del Barco noted that everyone assumes they are a journalist today. “Everyone with a Twitter account does,” Matthews agreed with a chuckle.
Matthews then turned the conversation toward the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements in Hollywood. Many people assume that opportunities for women are better now, in light of a few high-profile male executives whose alleged sexual misconduct have led to their replacement by women. But “there is still a stigma” around being a woman, said Verhoeven, referencing the recent news story about the Mississippi gubernatorial candidate who told a female journalist that she could not follow him on his campaign trial unless accompanied by a man.
Sun agreed. “People say that it is hard for white males right now, but that is not true,” she said, pushing back against the assumption that women and people of color are affirmative action hires. “A 200 percent increase in hiring women and people of color doesn’t mean as much when you’re going from zero to two. We still have to work twice as hard.”
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