Tanya Saracho Among Top TV & Film Creators Demanding More Latinx Representation in Hollywood

Tanya Saracho is calling for more Latinx representation in Hollywood…

The Mexican playwright, screenwriter and actress is among some of the top creators in television and film who are demanding for change when it comes to Latinx representation as Hispanic Heritage Months comes to an end.

Tanya Saracho

In an open letter to Hollywood more than 270 Latinx showrunners, creators, and television and feature writers, including Saracho, Lin-Manuel MirandaGloria Calderon-Kellett, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, Steven Canals, John Leguizamo, Linda Yvette-Chavez, Carolina Paiz, Marco Ramirez, Javier Grillo-Marxuach and more are calling for systemic change in the entertainment industry.

The letter begins: “As we come to the end of Hispanic Heritage Month in the midst of a global pandemic and continued racial injustice, many of us in the Latinx community have found it difficult to celebrate. Inspired by the activism of the Black and Indigenous communities, many of whom also identify as Latinx, we stand in solidarity with our fellow Black, Native and Indigenous writers, co-signing their WGAW Open Letters and echoing their demands for systemic change in our industry.”

“As Latinx Showrunners, Creators, TV and Feature Writers, we are incensed by the continued lack of Latinx representation in our industry, especially among the Black and Indigenous members of our community,” the letter continues. “Our stories are important, and our erasure onscreen contributes to the persistent prejudice that prevents real change in this country. This prejudice is not as overt as the one that keeps immigrant children in cages and separates families at the border, or as violent as the racism that is killing our Black, Brown, and Indigenous community members at the hands of police.”

“But when we are onscreen, we’re often relegated to stereotypes or villains. And as a recent​ ​New York Times OpEd​ states, ‘White elites cannot muffle a huge, vibrant community for decades and not expect consequences. For Latinos in the Trump era, these consequences are deadly, from Hurricane Maria to the Walmart shooting in El Paso and the pandemic, as well as soaring hate crimes.’”

The letter points out that the Latinx community makes up 18.3% of the U.S. population but it is not reflected in film and TV. There are only 4.7% feature writers and 8.7% TV writers that are Latinx. As Latinx writers move up to Showrunner level, the stats only get more dismal. “By refusing to tell our stories AND by refusing to put us in charge of telling them — Hollywood power brokers are complicit in our exclusion,” the letter remarks.

This is even further supported by a recent study from CAA and Parrot Analytics, which shows that even though television shows are a lot more diverse than they were three years ago, not all racial and ethnic groups were equally well represented in scripted debuts. Latinos and Hispanics remain significantly underrepresented despite being one of the fastest-growing demographics in the country.

While there are shows like One Day At A Time that having managed to get multiple season orders, there have been other Latino-fronted shows in the past years, like The Baker and the Beauty and United We Fall — that have been canceled before getting the chance to find their footing beyond one season.

The letter can be summarized with three words included heavily throughout: “We are tired.”

The open letter does not mince words with the demands and draws out exactly what needs to be done including creating stories for and about the Latinx community by Latinx creators; greenlighting Latinx-fronted projects; respecting all aspects and intersections of the Latinx cultural representation; and hiring Latinx creators for non-Latinx projects.

The letter, which was posted on social channels with the hashtag #EndLatinXclusion, closes with “Stories are powerful. Stories change the world. Let’s get on the right side of history so we can continue to create needed change and tell captivating stories together.”

This initiative was launched by the Untitled Latinx Project (ULP) founded by Saracho. It’s an all-Latina advocacy group formed to increase representation of Latinx created stories for television. The goal of this call to action was uniting the professional community of Latinx writers, creators and showrunners.

Read the letter in full here.

Soledad O’Brien Named to Peabody Board of Directors

Soledad O’Brien is on board

In an effort to advance the organization’s commitment to storytelling, Peabody has appointed six new members to its bicoastal board of directors, including the 53-year-old half-Afro-Cuban American journalist.

Soledad O'Brien

Joining O’Brien, a presenter on HBO’s Real Sportsand host of Hearst Television’s Matter Of Fact with Soledad O’Brien, on the board are Chris McCarthyViacomCBS’ newly appointed president of entertainment and youth brands, and ESPN’s executive vice president of content, Connor Schell.

NPReditorial director Nancy Barnesand UnivisionCommunications’ executive vice president of government and corporate affairs Jessica Herrera-Flaniganhave also joined the board.

The five executives will serve on Peabody’s East Coast board, with the sixth new arrival, CAApartner Steven Lafferty, joining the organization’s West Coast board.

The bicoastal boards are distinct from the traditional board of jurors, which hands out the Peabody Awards. Existing board members include Vicechief Nancy DubucPBS CEO Paula Kergerand Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos.

Peabody executive director Jeffrey Jonessaid: “The intellectual capital and energy our boards bring is unparalleled, and we are excited to welcome these new members as they help us extend our reach through new partnerships and public engagements.”

Jon Huertas Signs with CAA for Representation

Jon Huertas is getting creative

The 50-year-old Puerto Rican actor has signed with the Creative Artists Agency (CAA) for representation. 

Jon Huertas

Huertas currently stars as Miguel on NBC’s EmmyGolden Globe and SAG Award-winning family drama This Is Us, which recently had its fall finale and received a three-season renewal earlier this year that would take it through season six.

In addition to This Is Us, Huertas’ credits include his role on Castle as Detective and Army veteran Javier Esposito. He starred on the ABC series for eight seasons. He also appeared in David Simon’s Generation Kill as Sgt. Tony “Poke” Espera. The HBO miniseries shed a unique and streetwise perspective of the 2003 invasion of Iraq. The character hit close to home for Huertas, who is a veteran himself.

Huertas and fellow collaborator Kenny Stevenson recently launched the production shingle WestSide Storiesand will continue to develop content for television and film.

Orci Signs with ICM Partners

Roberto Orci has a new Partner in crime…

The 43-year-old Mexican film and television writer, producer and director has signed with talent and literary agency ICM Partners.

Roberto Orci

Orci’s writing and producing credits include some of Hollywood’s biggest blockbusters, including credits two Transformers and Star Trek films and Mission: Impossible III.

Orci, longtime partner of Alex Kurtzman, is also an Emmy-winning television writer-producer, who co-created Fox’s Fringe and Sleepy Hollow. He has also been a writer-producer on Alias and Hawaii Five-O, among other shows.

Orci had previously been at Creative Artists Agency, and he continues to be lawyered by Michael Gendler.

Longoria Signs First-Look Deal with Universal Pictures

Eva Longoria is going universal…

The 41-year-old Mexican American actress, producer and activist and her production company UnbeliEVAble Entertainment have agreed to a two-year, first-look deal with Universal Pictures.

Eva Longoria

Universal president of production Peter Cramer made the pact.

First up is Universal’s acquisition of rights to My Daughter’s Quinceañera, a pitch from Lauren Iungerich, creator of the MTV series Awkward.

Longoria and producing partner Ben Spector will produce.

It’s the first crack at features for Iungerich, who’s attached to write, direct and co-produce the film that centers on an overwhelmed single father who is faced with the prospect of planning the quinceañera of his daughter’s dreams.

On the Universal deal, Cramer said: “While audiences have identified with Eva through her iconic television roles, she is also an extremely savvy producer with a keen eye for projects that appeal to a broad range of diverse audiences. We are fortunate that Eva has a found a home with Universal, sharing with us her creative instincts and passion for storytelling.”

Longoria, whose deal was made by CAA and Brillstein Entertainment Partners, is filming BBC Two’s high-end comedy miniseries Decline and Fall, an adaptation of Evelyn Waugh’s classic social satire. She’ll next be seen in Ricardo de Montreuil’s Lowriders, which premiered at this year’s LA Film Festival. The film is produced by Imagine Entertainment’s Brian Grazer and Blumhouse Production’s Jason Blum.

“Building upon our continued success as producers in television, we were seeking a home to expand the UnbeliEVAble brand into features,” said Longoria. “There’s simply no better place I could think of than Universal Pictures, whose diverse portfolio of releases is inspirational. Jeff, Donna and Peter’s passion was instrumental in keeping us in the Comcast family, and, beginning with My Daughter’s Quinceañera, we look forward to a long relationship with all our partners at the studio. Lauren’s pitch was so brilliant and funny, and to bring this experience to life is like reliving my 15th birthday.”

Thorne Signs with Creative Artists Agency (CAA)

Bella Thorne is getting Creative

The 18-year-old half Cuban American actress/singer and former Disney Channel star has signed with the Creative Artists Agency (CAA).

Bella Thorne

The move comes as Thorne, who has been branching out fast into feature films as both an actress and producer, just finished filming Midnight Sun opposite Patrick Schwarzenegger, Tyler Perry’s Boo! A Madea Halloween and The Babysitter with Robbie Amell and directed by McG.

On the TV side, her Freeform pilot Famous in Love, adapted by Marlene King, has landed a series order.

Her recent credits include the SXSW pic Shovel Buddies, which she also produced, and Thorne now is in production on a second Awesomeness Films movie, You Get Me, in which she will also star and produce. She is voicing a role in Focus Features’ animated Ratchet and Clank and over the summer will begin production on Xavier Dolan’s The Death and Life of John F. Donovan.

She had been repped by WME.

Thorne has 11.3 million Instagram followers, 9.9 million Facebook fans and 6.3 million Twitter followers. She also has a novel, Autumn Falls, and another, Autumn’s Kiss, coming in the fall.

Argentina Submits Trapero’s “The Clan” as Its Foreign Language Oscar Entry

Pablo Trapero’s latest project is representin’…

The 43-year-old Argentine filmmaker’s The Clan, which won the Best Director Silver Lion at the Venice Film Festival after its world premiere there, has been selected as Argentina‘s entry in this year’s Foreign Language Oscar race.

Pablo Trapero

The film about Argentina’s notorious Puccio crime family is produced by Spain’s Agustín Almodóvar and Pedro Almodóvar and their El Deseo production company.

It’s already a box office hit at home as El Clan, beating the record set by Argentina’s last Academy Award-winning film, 2009’s The Secret In Their Eyes.

And it played well in its North American premiere in the Toronto International Film Festival’s Platform sidebar earlier this month.

Days after Trapero’s Venice win, he was signed by CAA; Trapero has had two films nominated for Best Foreign Language Film Oscars, Lion’s Den and Carancho.

The film was released by 20th Century Fox with Fox International Pictures in Latin America, and Fox will release it in the U.S.

Ferreira is Moving From CAA to William Morris Endeavor (WME)

Sky Ferreira is switching teams…

The 23-year-old part-Brazilian singer-songwriter, model and actress has moved from Creative Artists Agency (CAA) to William Morris Endeavor (WME).

Sky Ferreira

She already was represented by IMG Models, which was part of the WME | IMG acquisition last year.

Ferreira is currently the face of the Jimmy Choo fragrance Illicit and will soon be featured in Paco Rabanne’s next fragrance campaign with Gabriel Day-Lewis.

She starred in Eli Roth’s cannibal horror film The Green Inferno, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2013 and will be released in the U.S. later this month.

Ferreira will also be seen in the true-life drama Elvis & Nixon, starring Michael Shannon and Kevin Spacey as the titular title characters, and in crime thriller The Trust, starring Nicolas Cage and Elijah Wood.

As a recording artist, Ferreira’s 2013 Capitol Records debut Night Time, My Time opened at No. 45 on the Billboard 200 before finding its way onto Rolling Stones list of that year’s top albums and Pitchfork‘s list of the decade’s top 100 albums.

She currently is recording her sophomore album, Masochism, due out next year.

Carey Signs with United Talent Agency (UTA)

Mariah Carey has new representation…

The 45-year-old half-Venezuelan American singer has signed with United Talent Agency (UTA) in all areas, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Mariah CareyCarey was previously at Creative Artists Agency (CAA).

UTA will represent the Grammy winner across all areas, including music, touring, film, television, digital, licensing and endorsements. Carey is currently maintaining a Las Vegas residency at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace, where #1 to Infinity began this May and will run beyond next February.

In December she’ll return to New York City for a series of Christmas concerts before embarking on a European tour in the spring, which UTA will put together. It will be her first tour in that continent in 13 years.

“Mariah is one of the greatest artists of this or any generation,” UTA chairman Jim Berkus said in a statement. “She is a true multi-talent, and we’re thrilled to help her continue to push every creative boundary.”

Carey has sold more than 200 million albums worldwide and won five Grammy Awards, starting with best new artist and best pop vocal performance, female in 1990. The latter was for her breakout single “Vision of Love,” and through 2008’s “Touch My Body,” the legendary songstress has had 18 singles hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, more than any solo artist ever.

In the fall, Carey is slated to direct a TV movie for Hallmark. As an actress, her screen credits include Precious and Lee Daniels’ The Butler.

Lovato to Partner with Pocket Gems for Mobile “Create Your Own Adventure” Game

It’s game on for Demi Lovato

The 22-year-old part-Mexican American singer/actress has partnered with mobile game developer Pocket Gems to create a game that recreates the storyline of becoming a famous musician.

Demi Lovato Mobile Game

The still-untitled game, to be released later this summer, is a “choose your own adventure” type story, says Pocket Gem’s Jameel Khalfan. Players will join Lovato on tour and backstage as they build their own music careers. It will run on Pocket Gems’ Episode platform, which powers dozens of interactive stories, and will be available to both iOS and Android users.

Why did Pocket Gems seek out Lovato? Khalfan says the company surveys its users about the kind of content they want and which people they admire. One recurring theme from its predominantly female user base was the desire to be famous. Pocket Gems eventually found out through CAA, Lovato’s agency, she was interested in this kind of project.

“If you incorporate an artist like Demi, it becomes more real,” Khalfan tells Billboard. “You get to see things that have helped her along the way. We wanted to come up with a compelling story our users will love. They’re all aware of her story.”

As for Lovato’s involvement in the game’s development, Khalfan says she has helped give it authenticity. She has helped craft her dialogue, the clothes and outfits her avatar will wear. Her dog Buddy will also be featured. Khalfan says Lovato’s original recordings will be incorporated in the game “in a few different ways” depending on the story.