Accurate multicultural representation in Hollywood starts crucially with hiring communities of color to make and star in films, “Suicide Squad” and “Bright” director David Ayer said Thursday at the ArcLight drive-in premiere of his new Los Angeles-based crime drama, “The Tax Collector.”
“Hire them. Hire them for jobs,” Ayer said when asked about increasing Latino representation in Hollywood productions. “People take care of people, give them jobs and give them their voice.”
“The Tax Collector” has a mostly Latinx cast, led by Bobby Soto, Cinthya Carmona, George Lopez, Lana Parrilla, Chelsea Rendon and Jose “Conejo” Martin.
Ayer, who has written and directed several South L.A.-set films, including “End of Watch,” “Training Day” and “Harsh Times,” said, “I always grew up around Chicanos. Where is the f—ing Hollywood Chicano superstar?”
Ayer explained, “[South Central] is where I like to work. I like to bring work, jobs and vision to the neighborhood and then help people in the neighborhood come up.”
Rendon, fresh off the acclaimed and recently concluded “Vida,” was part of a 15-minute cast Zoom Q&A after “The Tax Collector’s” screening.
“The brown community in Hollywood is really small,” Rendon said. “It’s family. It’s important to represent.”
Carmona added, “As Latinos, we’re constantly fighting for that representation onscreen. This is a really good example of representation that we can carry a film and to expect to see a lot more of this.”
A notable exception to Ayer’s comments is the significant supporting role that Shia LaBeouf, who is Jewish, has in the film as a ruthless gangster, Creeper. In response to a fan’s recent question on Twitter about this non-Latino casting of LaBeouf in “The Tax Collector,” Ayer, who is white, replied that he grew up in Chicano L.A. street culture, and that it included white people, in addition to people of color.
“I grew up hood and I’m a white boy,” Ayer wrote. “Chicano culture is inclusive. I’ve seen whiteys, Asians, Blacks, Filipinos all putting in work for the hood. It’s part of street culture.”
LaBeouf, who previously worked with Ayer on “Fury,” kept his comments brief Thursday, speaking about his chemistry with costar Soto, who plays his partner in crime.
“I sensed in [Soto] a person who had similar sensibilities and a similar trajectory, was interested in the same [stuff],” LaBeouf said. “Me and him connected.”
“The Tax Collector” hits select drive-in theaters and is available on demand Aug. 7.