Although two recent studies have concluded that Latinos are vastly underrepresented on film and television, a shouting match erupted over the reasons behind the findings at a symposium Wednesday on the subject.
Warner Bros. veep of casting John Levey sparked the day’s argument at the Hollywood Museum of Television & Radio with the comment, “On ‘ER,’ we don’t have a Latino series regular, and it isn’t because we haven’t tried … it’s ultimately up to the actor to deliver the goods and get the job.”
To which Si TV co-chair Jeff Valdez said, “I couldn’t disagree with you more … The numbers of Latinos getting cast are just too low to explain it away like that.” The discussion was part of a Screen Actors Guild-sponsored event titled “Big Screen, Small Screen: Latinos Are Watching, Are You Reaching Them?”
Agreeing with Valdez, helmer Jesus Trevino (“Dawson’s Creek, “NYPD Blue”) said, “In a county that’s 44% Latino, just 2% of TV directors are Latino and 1% of its writers are Latino … and we just accept this as a matter of course.” Trevino said a solution is for “executives to see that a lot of money exists in the barrio and put a Latino ensemble on the air.”
However, Levey said that Latinos do have access to roles — “I cast 25 parts a week on ‘ER,’ and that’s an enormous opportunity for actors.”
Trevino shot back, “I’m always asking myself who’s stealing all the Latinos out of L.A. because you never see them on TV.” And to the cheers of the audience Valdez added, “I can look at a lot of people in this room who have put in their dues and they certainly aren’t getting the roles.”