With stories of the Trump administration’s newest border policy decision causing children to be separated from their families and locked in cages, it’s no surprise the entertainment industry’s most prominent figures have spoken out against the policy this past week.
The topic was unavoidable at the National Association of Latino Independent Producers’ Latino Media Awards at the Ray Dolby Ballroom in Hollywood on Saturday.
“Flatliners” and “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” star Diego Luna, who received the outstanding achievement in film award, told Variety he believes it is the duty of Latino creators to bring their stories to light, including the stories of the children being separated from their families.
“What’s been in happening in this country these last few days, this cruelty cannot be accepted or tolerated,” Luna said. “We have to remind ourselves that we are the ones telling our stories, so we have to be telling the stories of the invisible so they can be visible.”
Isabela Moner, who won the Lupe Ontiveros award, told Variety all creators need to speak up, because she believes it is not longer just a government issue, but a humanitarian issue: “At a certain point it’s just wrong, and the law can be morally wrong and that’s where we have to draw the line as humans.”
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The 16-year-old “Sicario: Day of the Soldado” star said while she’s glad to see people speaking up about it on social media, there’s more that needs to be done.
“Until you start telling people what to do and how to do it, there’s so much more to it,” Moner said. “And I feel like I’m not doing enough, and I’m really trying. You can make phone calls, there are people who are camping out outside these [ICE] centers and protesting.”
In her acceptance speech for the outstanding achievement in television award, “Vida” star Mishel Prada said she was grateful for the chance to work on the STARZ show, and that it was her dream to be able to tell honest stories of the Latino community. She said the more the world gets exposed to stories from within the community, the more they will understand that “no matter how different we may appear, we are so similar.” However, she said people are seeing how easy it is to strip people of their basic humanities, and she fears what inaction may lead to.
“We’re all seeing the pictures and videos and audio of what’s happening to our gentes trying to immigrate here and trying to find asylum,” Prada said. “We are scared that, deep down, other people in this country are hearing these children crying for their parents and feeling nothing.”
She said that lack of empathy is why it’s important for Latino creators to tell their history to a wider audience.
“It’s so easy to fear what we don’t know, and we must be seen, we must be felt and we must be understood so that no one can deny us our humanity,” Prada said. “And we can only do that if we continue working together.”
The pride in cultural history that Prada spoke of flowed through the speakers and the audiences throughout the night, highlighted by Argentinian-born Marvel Studios producer Victoria Alonso asking the audience to close their eyes and think about the moment they realized their dream was worth coming to the United States for.
“Look back to that moment where you thought this is what I will go and fight for. This is what I will leave my family behind for, I will leave my language behind for, I will leave my country behind for, I will perhaps find a lot of gaps along the way, but then in that search, you found the gratitude of what it means to take one step at a time,” Alonso said.
As the audience concentrated, Alonso began to sing “Gracias a La Vida,” (Give Thanks to Life) a folk song born in the Nueva canción era composed by Chilean musician Violeta Parra and covered by Argentinian folk singer Mercedes Sosa.
Others in attendance were event host Kristina Guerrero, Clifton Collins Jr., Gustavo Santaolalla, Francisco Ramos, Jaina Lee Ortiz, Jorge Gutierrez, Melissa Barrera, Sol Rodriguez and Chelsea Rendon.
The full list the NALIP Latino Media Awards recipients are below:
Lifetime Achievement Award: Gustavo Santaolalla
Outstanding Achievement in Film: Diego Luna
Lupe Ontiveros Award: Isabela Moner
Tech Arts Innovator Award: Victoria Alonso
Digital Trailblazer Award: Dulce Candy
Outstanding Achievement in Television: Mishel Prada
We Are Inclusion Award: Array
Lisa Quiroz Media Advacement Award: PBS
Industry Pioneer Award: Cris Abrego