Hispanic Activist Groups Launch Campaign Targeting Paramount Pictures
Reviewing the top 100 grossing films in the U.S. from 2016 to 2017, researchers for the National Hispanic Media Coalition concluded that the studio had the worst track record in terms of hiring Latino actors, writers and directors.
A half-year since the National Hispanic Media Coalition revealed its plan to boycott a film studio for underrepresenting Latino talent in front of and behind the camera, the organization has partnered with another activist group to initiate a campaign against Paramount Pictures.
On Tuesday, the NHMC announced that, in partnership with the National Latino Media Council, it would be "target[ing] Paramount Pictures for their lack of Latino actors, writers, and directors," taking steps including a social media campaign, demonstrations and a general boycott of upcoming Paramount films. The goal is to persuade the studio to agree to a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the organizations that would outline how Paramount intends to improve inclusivity in its output.
"Latinos can no longer wait for the film companies to, as they say, bring us into their films 'organically.' Latinos must be part and parcel of the film industry," NHMC president and CEO Alex Nogales said in a statement. "The talent is there and as a community, we need the positive stories and sensitivity of our actors, writers, and directors to counter the anti-Latino rhetoric and actions of the Trump administration who has influenced a large portion of the population to look at us as the dregs of society."
Paramount was chosen after a study conducted by NHMC and the team behind UCLA's "Hollywood Diversity Report." Reviewing the top 100 grossing films in the U.S. from 2016 to 2017, researchers said that the studio had the worst track record in terms of hiring Latino actors, writers and directors. In 2016, none of Paramount's 12 films in the top 100 featured a Latino writer, lead actor or director; only three of those films featured a Latino actor within the top eight billed actors on IMDb. In 2017, meanwhile, one Paramount film of its eight in the top 100 featured a Latino director (the horror film Rings), while none had a Latino lead actor or writer; only two films of those eight featured Latino actors in IMDb's top eight billed actors.
After completion of the study, NHMC and NLMC met with Paramount COO Andrew Gumpert in late June to discuss agreeing on a potential MOU. According to the NHMC, Gumpert told Nogales three weeks later that he would not sign it.
In its own statement to The Hollywood Reporter, a spokesperson from Paramount said, "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."
CEO Jim Gianopulos took over as chief of Paramount in March 2017 after the departure of former CEO Brad Grey.
Among the films that Paramount cited in its statement, Dora the Explorer is set to star Isabela Moner, the daughter of a Peruvian immigrant, and Mexican star Eugenio Derbez. Danielle Sanchez-Witzel, a veteran of NBC's diversity program, has done a rewrite. Moner is also set to star in Instant Family, while John Ortiz, of Puerto Rican ancestry, will star in Bumblebee. Puerto Rican director Miguel Arteta will director Limited Partners.
NHMC has put up a list on its website of upcoming Paramount films that it encourages supporters to boycott, including Bumblebee.
The studio boycott and campaign follows NHMC's demonstrations against the Academy Awards last winter, when Nogales told THR that the Oscars events would be the first of "increasingly aggressive wake-up calls to Hollywood studios to end institutionalized racism against Latinos."
The organizations' first demonstration against Paramount, which will take place in front of the studio lot, is set for Aug. 25 at 11 a.m. on the corner of Melrose Avenue and Windsor Boulevard.