Cool discussion about a very hot issue. In all of H’wood’s history, has anything ever affected the old, “Business as Usual?”
While we ponder….
by Carimah Townes
Actor Carlos Carrasco wants people to know that this year’s Best Picture Academy Award winner was a Latino film.
“Who wrote it? Alejandro Iñárritu. It was a little bit of Gabriel Garcia Marquez. The magical realism that Marquez won a Nobel Prize for 40 years ago — that’s what Birdman is,” he boasted over the phone. The critically-acclaimed movie, starring Michael Keaton and Edward Norton, follows a washed up Hollywood blockbuster star struggling to find his footing as a Broadway actor/director. As he prepares for his play’s debut, an inner, fantastical bird that undermines his confidence manifests itself in eye-popping action sequences.
“That kind of writing has been poking out in other places. There are other [Latino] directors and screenwriters bringing that to the fore,” Carrasco, known for his roles in Speed and Deep Space Nine, continued.
Their presence, he argues, is a sign of the times: Latinos are becoming a dynamic force in Hollywood. And as of 2014, they’re officially the majority population in California — up from just 12 percent in 1970. Los Angeles County, the home of Hollywood, has the single largest Latino population in the country. And by 2060, half of all California residents will be Latino.
Much has been said about what the growing population means for the future of politics and the economy. The majority of wage laborers in the state are Latino, although upward mobility is commonly achieved by second-generation individuals. Politicians are also more reliant on the population’s votes than ever before. But what does the demographic shift mean for Latinos in the entertainment industry?
“It’s miles and eons away from what it was,” said Carrasco, a Panama-born, classically-trained actor who moved to the U.S. for an acting scholarship in college. Being a big, dark-complexioned, and smart Afro-Latino created significant challenges for him when he began his career — to the point where he had to learn to dumb it down. He’s convinced that when he dies, people will remember him as the conspiring Mexican gang-banger in the cult-classic Blood In, Blood Out.
But he’s optimistic about the future of Hollywood. “It’s about the inevitability of the numbers, the purchasing power,” he explained. “There have been efforts to start Latino distribution companies. Latino original production is increasing. [And] Latinos go to the movies a lot — more than any other demographic, especially in California. Imagine a scenario where suddenly they’re holding back their movie dollars. It would be a huge crisis at the box office, but I think the industry is starting to recognize that.”
Indeed, Latinos bought 25 percent of movie tickets in 2013. In an interview with the Wrap, Fox President of Domestic Distribution confirmed, “You don’t have a major hit without Hispanic moviegoers.”