×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Gloria Calderón Kellett on Latinx Creators in Hollywood: ‘We’re Culture Makers’

On Thursday night at the AMC Century City 15 in Los Angeles, the Latino Media Fest Awards celebrated content creators who are helping to make the industry a more diverse and inclusive place.

The event was hosted by the National Association of Latino Independent Producers, which for the past 20 years has advocated on behalf of the largest ethnic minority in the U.S. that also happens to be the most underrepresented in Hollywood. (According to a new NALIP study with the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, only four percent of the 100 top-grossing films from 2007 to 2018 were helmed by Latinx directors — and only three percent featured Latinx lead actors.)

“This is unprecedented,” NALIP executive director Ben Lopez told Variety before the ceremony, referring to the event’s focus on Latinx storytellers. “We believe that if you showcase them and give them time and exposure, they’re going to be able to launch themselves as global superstars. And that’s why NALIP is here — to be that supporting organization.”

Awards included Best Latin American Film (“Monos”), Best Latinx Director (Rashaad Ernesto Green, who also co-wrote “Premature”) and Breakthrough Filmmaker (“The Chambermaid” director Lila Avilés). Ben DeJesus, whose documentary about Puerto Rican actor Raul Julia won Best Latinx Film, urged aspiring filmmakers not to wait for studio approval. “Go tell your stories,” he said. “This is our time. Don’t wait for a green light — the green light is within you.”

Added Mexican filmmaker Issa López, who was honored as Best Latin American Director for “Tigers Are Not Afraid”: “Representation matters now more than ever at a time when people like us are being deported, being persecuted, being killed.”

Recently, Netflix renewed the violent drama, “Narcos,” but canceled Gloria Calderón Kellett’s sweet, non-stereotypical sitcom, “One Day at a Time,” which NALIP named Best Latinx TV Show. Following a social media campaign to save the series, it was rescued by Pop TV and will return in 2020. “We’re culture makers,” Kellett said, referring to her fellow content creators in the crowd. “It’s fun but also it impacts society in ways that you cannot possibly understand.”

The show runner reflected on her parents’ journey from Cuba to America in 1962. “Their immigrant story is very different than the immigrant story we have today,” Kellett said. “They were seeking asylum — sound familiar? They were exiled, they were welcomed to this country, they were given a path to citizenship — and as a result, in one generation, I am now telling the story of their life.”

However, Latinx characters continue to be less visible; they account for only 4.5 percent of characters in movies, according to the Annenberg study. “There are still wildly stereotyped roles,” Kellett said, drawing a parallel between negative media representation and public perception. “That leads to children in cages. That leads to fear-mongering in this country. It is all starts with the narrative. You guys, we have the power to change that narrative — it is so vital. And so important.”

More Film

  • Jason Flemyng, Casting Director Lucinda Syson

    Jason Flemyng, Lucinda Syson Launch Film and TV Indie The Kernel Factory (EXCLUSIVE)

    Jason Flemyng, fellow actor Ben Starr, casting director Lucinda Syson, and finance expert Cristiano D’Urso are opening The Kernel Factory, a new U.K.-based film and TV indie. Flemyng has a long list of movie credits including “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen,” and Guy Ritchie’s “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking [...]

  • Hache

    ‘Hache’ Creator, Director Discuss Netflix’s Next Spanish Original, Dropping Nov. 1

    MADRID — On Nov 1 Netflix will drop its fifth Spanish original series, 1960’s-set drug smuggling drama “Hache,” produced by Madrid’s Weekend Studio for the platform. Created by Verónica Fernández and directed by Jorge Torregrossa (“La vida inesperada,” “Cocaine Coast,” “Velvet Collection”), “Hache” tells the story of Helena (Adriana Ugarte), a prostitute who ends up [...]

  • Argentina Film Lab

    Argentina to Build Country’s First Film Restoration Laboratory in Buenos Aires

    Argentina’s Instituto Nacional de Cinematografia y las Artes Audiovisuals (INCAA) and the Ministry of Culture of the City of Buenos Aires will partner to build Argentina’s first laboratory of film preservation. Minister of Culture Enrique Avogadro and INCAA president Ralph Haiek signed the agreement which will see Buenos Aires’ Pablo Ducrós Hicken Film Museum in [...]

  • The-Ancient-Law

    Lumière Festival’s MIFC Broadens International Spotlight with Focus on Germany

    The 7th Lumière Film Festival’s International Classic Film Market (MIFC) is expanding its international scope this year with more foreign companies than ever before taking part in the event, high-profile guests and an examination of Germany’s heritage cinema sector. With 17 international firms from 25 countries at the event, the MIFC has reported a 20% [...]

  • US actor Donald Sutherland poses for

    Donald Sutherland Reflects in Lyon On A Life And Career Marked By Cinema

    In a loose and free-flowing on-stage interview held at the Lumière Festival this past Sunday, Donald Sutherland reflected on his decade-spanning career with a tone that mixed personal irreverence alongside genuine veneration for the art form that brought him this far. “I love filmmakers, I really do,” said the Canadian actor, who delighted the local [...]

  • Lucky Day

    Film Review: 'Lucky Day'

    It’s been 17 long years since “Rules of Attraction” director Roger Avary has released a film, during which time he was involved in a deadly car crash, charged with gross vehicle manslaughter, saw a work furlough translated into actual prison time, and watched things go south with Video Archives amigo Quentin Tarantino over the “Pulp [...]

  • Terry Back chairman ACF

    Veteran U.K. Media Investor Terry Back Joins ACF as Chairman

    CANNES — Veteran U.K. film industry investor Terry Back has joined ACF investment bank as chairman. ACF, headed by CEO Thomas Dey, has been at the forefront of the M&A activity around independent TV and film production outfits, mostly in the unscripted TV arena. ACF is in the midst of expanding its activities in the [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content