An Emmy award
Representational image AFP

Latinos are a growing cultural force in the U.S., but a new study shows once again that actors from this demographic remain underrepresented in scripted television shows.

The 2023 Hollywood Diversity Report, sponsored by The Division of Social Sciences at UCLA, analyzed 521 live-action TV shows that aired between 2021 and 2022 across broadcast, cable, and digital platforms. It found that Latino actors made up 4.6% of show leads. The figure contrasts with the overall population of Latinos in the U.S., which according to the 2020 Census was almost 20%.

According to the data, the biggest share of leading roles for Latinos was in broadcast, with 6.1% of the total. In digital streaming shows Latinos accounted for 4.3% of leading roles; and in cable shows the figure was only 3.6% of all leading roles.

"Although there was progress for leads of color in broadcast, people of color remained underrepresented as leads in broadcast and digital," read the report.

This report comes weeks after Variety reported that Latino actors only had ten leading roles in 2022's top-grossing 100 Films. According to a report it that surveyed 1,600 films between 2007 and 2022, Latino representation in films increased from 3% to 6% during the 16-year span.

The lack of Latinos in TV and film contrasts with the type of content audiences are looking for, as the report shows them to be more drawn to diverse casts or creators. According to the report, ratings peaked for broadcast scripted shows in which 31% to 40% of the cast were minorities. Ratings were also high for shows in which 31% to 40% of the credited writers were people of color.

The 2023 Hollywood Diversity Report also analyzed diversity among people behind the camera and found that representation in that area was also lacking. Since 2019, the number of minority TV show creators has increased, most notably among scripted broadcast show creators. In 2019, minority creators represented just 9.8% of all TV creators in broadcast, in 2022 they made up 23.2% of all creators. Similar increases in minority show creators of 8.9% and 10.9% were seen in the cable and digital streaming categories respectively. However, the report states that the increase is due to the large sum of new shows for streaming services.

They also mention that minority creators are still underrepresented and receive comparatively smaller budgets to produce their shows when they do get greenlit.

According to the data, minority show creators on broadcast shows made up 23.2% of the total, while the figure was 29.5% for cable. On digital streaming, minority show creators made up 25.5% of the total. Across all three sectors analyzed, white show creators accounted for over 70% of the total.

"Overall, both women and people of color remained underrepresented among show creators across each platform type in 2021-22. Any sign of increased opportunity for people of color and women must be qualified by the limited resources they receive compared to White men once their shows are greenlit," the report concluded.

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