Bloomberg Línea — “There is a devastating gap between the reality of who we are, how we are portrayed and how we are imagined,” Ana Valdez, CEO and president of The Latino Donor Collaborative, tells Bloomberg Línea’s new podcast ‘Línea Latina’, regarding how the Latino population is seen in the US media.
In the first episode of the new podcast, which aired on Monday, Valdez, who heads film production company Valdez Productions, and is the CEO and president of the Latino Donor Collaborative, said: “The Latino community in the US is indispensable, all the information tells us that we have the highest economic mobility of any community, including the Asian community,. Latino immigrants arrive with nothing, and their children today are in college, in executive positions and doing business. Unlike Asians who arrive here with studies and a language.”
Born in Mexico, Valdez, who says she dedicates “100%” of her time to the collective, added that “since we started with the collective, we were clear that the way to show the importance of Latinos for the United States is with data,” and emphasizes the work that enables the think thank to provide data to the US audiovisual industry to reverse Latinos’ underrepresentation in that field.
The data is the most accurate evidence, with $2.8 billion of the country’s GDP produced by Latinos, and if they were an independent economy, they would be the fifth largest in the world.
Why do Latinos suffer underrepresentation in movies and TV?
The latest indicators of the 2022 Full-Year LDC US Latinos in Media Report, conducted by the think tank, reveal that Latinos are only 2.6% of the leading actors in programs, 1.4% of producers and 1.5% of TV directors, despite the fact that Latinos represent 19% of the US population and more than 25% of US youth.
“Eighty-five percent of Latinos are middle class and you never see that in the media,” Valdez tells ‘Línea Latina’. “We believe that the media that create the image, have simply ignored us, we are invisible or negatively visible.”
On the other hand, she highlights the growth of social networks such as TikTok, growth that is driven by the Latino community. “This is not because we are geniuses, but because we knew how to get involved”.
She also highlights how in recent years broadcasting has lost everything to cable, then cable to digital streaming platforms and now we are seeing a similar displacement by social networks.
According to Nielsen, Latino screen representation is 9.29% in streaming, 2.33% in cable and 5.42% in English-language television.
When asked about the reason for this representation, Valdez said: “There is a part of social pressure that we are not exerting. One of the ways that the other minority communities have advanced is because they raised their voices, for example in social media, with their purchases, with the way they spend, etc.”.
She also recognizes that the financial lows in the film industry have to do with the non-inclusion of Latinos, which she describes as an “intentional factor”.
“The proportionality of discrimination in the media is greater (...) The media still does not have a ghetto. If we do not change the image we will not have all the recognition and opportunity we deserve”, she claims.
This is when examples appear, such as ‘Merlina’, which became the second-most-watched series in the history of Netflix (NFLX), ‘The Last of Us,’ which positioned itself as one of the most-watched on HBO max or ABC’s ‘Will Trent’. All of these series starred Latinos.
“We have to have integration and access solutions for those we are the most entrepreneurs. In the US, 72% of the new businesses founded for years are in the hands of Latinos,” she says, to illustrate the power of self-management.
The ‘Línea Latina’ podcast, hosted by journalists Jimena Tolama and Alejandro Ángeles, premiered on Monday, May 15.