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.

John Leguizamo to Take Part in Upcoming CBS Special “Essential Heroes: A Momento Latino Event”

John Leguizamo is helping to honor this year’s coronavirus pandemic warriors…

The 56-year-old Colombian actor and stand-up comedian will take part in CBS’ upcoming special Essential Heroes: A Momento Latino Event. 

John Leguizamo

Leguizamo is among a roster of new additions to the special that includes José Andrés, Arturo Castro, John Leguizamo, George Lopez, Isabela Merced, Rita Moreno, Ana Navarro, Freddy Rodriguez and Wilmer Valderrama.

 

The event will be produced and hosted by Eva Longoria. Ricky Martin and Gloria Estefan are also set to co-host.

 

The star-studded lineup will join the show, created by Henry R. Muñoz III and directed by Ron de Moraes, to celebrate Latinx culture while also shedding light on those in the community that have been heavily impacted by the novel coronavirus pandemic and those who play an essential role in fighting COVID-19.

Apart from the array of Latinx voices speaking at the event, the event will also feature musical performances, comedy pieces and docu-shorts aimed to spread awareness on the Latinx experience.

 

The special follows Longoria’s recent launch of a lifestyle site for the Latina community, She Se Puede, that covers fashion, health, culture and voting.

 

Essential Heroes: A Momento Latino Event will broadcast Monday, October 26 from 9:00-10:00pm, ET/PT on the CBS Television Network. Audiences can also stream the event live and on demand on CBS All Access.

HBO Latino’s “Habla Now,” Featuring Diane Guerrero, to Kick-Off the New York Latino Film Festival’s First-Ever Drive-In Showings

Diane Guerrero’s hitting the festival circuit…

The New York Latino Film Festival (NYLFF) has announced the lineup for the fest’s forthcoming hybrid edition, with HBO Latino’s Habla Now, featuring the 34-year-old Colombian American actress and author, as the Opening Night drive-in feature.

Diane Guerrero

The documentary special, the 15th installment of HBO Latino’s award-winning “Habla” series, features testimonials from US Latinos – celebrities, recognized professionals, and everyday Latinos – who share honest stories about being Latino in the U.S.

In addition to Guerrero, the storytellers include Arturo Castro, Nely Galan, Amara La Negra, Cristina Jimenez, Ozzie Areu, Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, Edgardo Miranda Rodriguez, Mark Hugo Lopez, Mariana Atencio, Laurie Hernandez, Justina Machado, Diane Guerrero, Carmen Carrera, José Andrés and many more.

In addition, Angel Manuel Soto’s Charm City Kings will have its New York premiere at the fest.

Produced by Will Smith, Jada Pinkett Smith and James Lassiter, with a story by Oscar winner Barry Jenkins, Charm City Kings marks the feature directorial debut follows the journey of 14-year-old Mouse who desperately wants to join the Midnight Clique, an infamous group of Baltimore dirt-bike riders who rule the summertime streets.

John Leguizamo’s Critical Thinkingwill also make its New York premiere. The film tells the true story of five Latinx and Black teenagers from Miami Jackson Senior High School who fight their way into the National Chess Championship under the guidance of their unconventional but inspirational teacher.

This year’s virtual NYLFF will take place from September 14-20.

In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, festivals around the world have either canceled or pivoted to an entirely virtual program. NYLFF is one of the Latinx-based fests that continued with plans for the annual fest with the appropriate changes.

The 21st edition will be a combination of virtual events and in-person screenings that celebrate Latinx creators.

The fest will also host the first Latino drive-in experience to take place both in New York and in The Bronx.

This year’s festival features nearly 75 films representing more than 10 countries, spanning all genres including features, shorts, documentaries, web series and experimental films.

“Inspired by the resilience of the Latino community, NYLFF is proud to return with a fresh format featuring our first-ever drive-in experiences,” said Calixto Chinchilla, founder of NYLFF. “We are proud to serve as an important platform for Latino creatives to share culturally relevant stories about intersectionality, diversity, and lived experiences in this country. Gracias to our sponsors for continuing to support our community of content creators and movie-goers. While there’s much learned this year, one thing we can all agree, the culture continues!”

Click here the complete lineup for this year’s NYLFF.

Vertical Entertainment Acquires North American Rights to John Leguizamo’s Feature Directorial Debut “Critical Thinking”

It’s the perfect endgame for John Leguizamo

Vertical Entertainment has acquired the North American rights to the 56-year-old Colombian actor/comedian’s feature directorial debut Critical Thinking, which he also stars in and produced.

John Leguizamo

Written by Dito MontielCritical Thinkingtells the 1998 true story of five LatinX and Black teenagers from Miami Jackson Senior High School, located in one of the toughest neighborhoods in Miami, who fight their way into the National Chess Championship under the guidance of their unconventional but inspirational teacher. 

The movie will hit VOD/digital on September 4.

“In today’s fractured society with so many disenfranchised young adults, in our country and around the world, this is a story which can and will inspire all of us to do better, keep focused and stay positive,” said Leguizamo. “With Critical Thinkingwe wanted to create a universal message of hope and spread this message to the world.”

“Given the challenges that many are facing right now, it gives the team at Vertical great pleasure to bring a story this inspiring to screens everywhere,” said Rich Goldberg, co-president of Vertical Entertainment. “It’s a story that celebrates young people who were brave enough to believe in themselves, and we hope audiences will walk away feeling the same.”

Rachel Bay Jones and Michael Kenneth Williams also star in the feature. 

The film was produced by Scott Rosenfelt and Jason Mandl, as well as executive produced by Harvey R. ChaplinCarla Berkowitz and Emilio Estefan Jr.

Imagen Foundation to Honor Luisa Leschin with Writing Honor at This Year’s Imagen Awards

Luisa Leschin has the writestuff…

The 66-year-old El Salvadoran & Guatemalan television producer, actress, and voice-over artistwill be honored with the Norman Lear Writer’s Award at the 34th Annual Imagen Awards, which will be held August 10 at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills.

Luisa Leschin

Leschin is an industry veteran who has produced shows like George LopezEverybody Hates Chrisand East Los HighShe currently is the co-executive producer of the Netflixoriginal series Mr. Iglesias starring Gabriel Iglesiasand Sherri Shepherd.

“Norman Lear is a towering legend in the entertainment industry having create some of Hollywood’s most ground-breaking sitcoms,” said Leschin. “He has inspired every writer to think beyond the norm and is someone I have always looked up to. I’m beyond honored.”

Leschin has had her hand in nearly every aspect of the entertainment industry. She began her career as a ballet dancer then turned to acting, having appeared in many iconic TV series including Beverly Hills 90210Love BoatER,QuincyFalcon CrestHill St. Blues and others. On the feature side, she has appeared in Saturday Night Fever and True Confessions.

The Norman Lear Writer’s Award honors those that have exhibited efforts towards increasing diversity within all aspects of the entertainment industry. Past recipients include Gloria Calderon KellettPeter Murrieta, John LeguizamoFred Armisenand Roberto Orci.

Trailer Released for John Leguizamo’s Family Comedy “Playing with Fire”

John Leguizamois playing with fire

Paramount has released the first trailer for Playing with Fire, the upcoming family comedy starring the 54-year-old Colombian actor and stand-up comedian, John CenaKeegan-Michael Keyand Tyler Mane

John Leguizamo

Leguizamo and team play firefighters who rescue three children and, unable to locate the siblings’ parents, become inadvertent and unlikely babysitters.

Directed by Andy Fickmanfrom a screenplay by Dan Ewenand Matthew Lieberman(story by Ewan), Playing with Fire is a Paramount Picturesand Paramount Playerspresentation, in association with Walden Mediaof a Broken Roadproduction.

John Leguizamo Playing with Fire

In addition to Leguizamo, Cena, Key, and Mane, the film’s cast also includes – as the children – Brianna HildebrandChristian Converyand Finley Rose Slateras well as Dennis Haybertand Judy Greer.

Paramount will release Playing with Fire in theaters on November 8. 

Benicio del Toro Earns First-Ever Emmy Awards Nomination

Benicio del Toro is celebrating a special first…

Nominations for the 71st annual Primetime Emmy Awards have been revealed, with the 52-year-old Puerto Rican Oscar-winning actor earning his first-ever nod.

Benicio del Toro

del Toro is nominated in the Outstanding Lead Actor In A Limited Series or Movie category for his role as convicted murderer in Showtime’s seven-episode series Escape At Dannemora.

The show is based on a real-life 2015 prison break and explores the dynamics between convicts Richard Matt (del Toro) and David Sweat (Paul Dano) and prison worker Joyce “Tilly” Mitchell (Patricia Arquette), who ultimately helped them escape. 

John Leguizamo, an Emmy winner in 1998 for his semi-autobiographical HBO one-man show Freak, has earned his second consecutive Emmy nod in the Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie category.

The 54-year-old Colombian actor and stand0-up comedian, a nominee last year for his role in the limited television series Waco, is nominated for his role in the Netflixminiseries When They See Us.

Anthony Mendez has picked up his third nomination in the Outstanding Narrator category.

The bilingual Latino voice actor, who earned two Emmy nods his narrating the CW’s Jane the Virgin, is nominated in the Outstanding Narrator category for narrating USA’s documentary series Wonders of Mexico.

Emmy-winner Tessandra Chavez has earned a nod in the Outstanding Choreography For Variety or Reality Programming category for her work with the contemporary dance company she founded Unity LA, and their routines on NBC’s World of Dance. She’s up against fellow Latino choreographers and World of Dancechoreographers Melvin “Timtim” Rogador and Karen ForcanoRicardo Vega.

Other Latino nominees include Hanna cinematographer Dana Gonzales in the Outstanding Cinematography For A Single-Camera Series (One Hour) category and RGB editor Carla Gutierrez in theOutstanding Picture Editing For A Nonfiction Program category.

The 2019 Emmy Awards will air on September 22 on Fox.

Here’s the list of some of the high-profile Latino nominees and their competition:

Outstanding Lead Actor In A Limited Series Or Movie 
Jared Harris as Valery Legasov, Chernobyl 
Benicio del Toro as Richard Matt, Escape At Dannemora 
Sam Rockwell as Bob Fosse, Fosse/Verdon 
Mahershala Ali as Wayne Hays, True Detective 
Hugh Grant as Jeremy Thorpe, A Very English Scandal 
Jharrel Jerome as Korey Wise, When They See Us 

Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Limited Series Or Movie 
Stellan Skarsgård as Boris Shcherbina, Chernobyl 
Paul Dano as David Sweat, Escape At Dannemora 
Ben Whishaw as Norman, A Very English Scandal 
Asante Blackk as Kevin Richardson, When They See Us 
John Leguizamo as Raymond Santana, Sr., When They See Us 
Michael K. Williams as Bobby McCray, When They See Us 

Outstanding Narrator
Angela Bassett, Narrator, The Flood 
Liev Schreiber, Narrator, The Many Lives of Nick Buoniconti 
Sir David Attenborough, Narrator, Our Planet
Juliet Stevenson, Narrator, Queens Of Mystery 
Charles Dance, Narrator, Savage Kingdom 
Anthony Mendez, Narrator, Wonders Of Mexico 

Outstanding Choreography For Variety Or Reality Programming
Travis Wall, Choreographer,  So You Think You Can Dance
Luther Brown, Choreographer, So You Think You Can Dance 
Melvin “Timtim” Rogador, Choreographer, World Of Dance 
Suresh Mukund, Choreographer, World Of Dance 
Karen Forcano, Choreographer & Ricardo Vega, Choreographer, World Of Dance 
Tessandra Chavez, Choreographer, World Of Dance 

Outstanding Cinematography For A Single-Camera Series (One Hour)
Jonathan Freeman, ASC, Director of Photography, Game Of Thrones 
Zoë White, Director of Photography, The Handmaid’s Tale 
Colin Watkinson, Director of Photography, The Handmaid’s Tale 
Dana Gonzales, ASC, Director of Photography
Gonzalo Amat, Director of Photography, The Man In The High Castle 
M. David Mullen, ASC, Director of Photography, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel 
Robert McLachlan, ASC, Director of Photography, Ray Donovan 

Outstanding Picture Editing For A Nonfiction Program 
Tom Patterson, Editor, Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown 
Bob Eisenhardt, ACE, Editor, Free Solo 
Jules Cornell, Editor, Leaving Neverland 
Carla Gutierrez, ACE, Editor, RBG 
Michael Harte, Editor, Three Identical Strangers 

John Leguizamo Bringing His “Latin History for Morons” Show to LA’s Ahmanson Theatre

John Leguizamo is bringing his Latin history lesson to Los Angeles…

The 54-year-old Colombian actor/comedian’s one-man show Latin History for Morons is among the shows slated for the Ahmanson Theatre’s 2019-20 season.

John Leguizamo Latin History for Morons

The Center Theater Groupannounced Leguizamo’s critically acclaimed show as one of the seven productions for the 53rd season.

Latin History for Morons, a one-man play written and performed by Leguizamo, will run from September 5 to October 20. 

Inspired by the lack of Latinos in his son’s American history books, the Tony winner will break down 3,000 years of Latino history into a 95-minute show in order to find a hero for his son’s school project.

John Leguizamo to Star in the Novel-Based Film “Harry Haft”

John Leguizamohas landed a new role…

The 54-year-old Colombian actor has been cast in Harry Haft, the Barry Levinson-directed film based on the novel Harry Haft: Survivor of Auschwitz, Challenger of Rocky Marciano by Alan Scott Haft.

John Leguizamo

Leguizamo joins a cast that includes Danny DeVito, Vicky Krieps, Peter SarsgaardSaro Emirzeand Dar Zuzovsky.

The group joins previously announced titular star Ben Foster as production is currently underway with plans to shoot on location in Hungary and New York.

Justine Juel Gillmer penned the screenplay. It’s based on the true story of a man (Foster) who is driven by his love of a woman to survive the unimaginable horrors of the German concentration camps. An SS Officer (Billy Magnussen) forces Harry to fight to the death against fellow prisoners in gruesome gladiatorial boxing matches. Harry finally escapes and makes it to New York. Haunted by his memories and guilt over his survival, he fights boxing legends, like Rocky Marciano, in the hopes that his name will get noticed and he will find his first love again.

Leguizamo next co-stars in Ava DuVernay’s Netflix miniseries about the 1989 Central Parkjogger case, which was just re-titled When They See Us.

Ramses Jimenez to Star in the John Leguizamo-Directed Film “Critical Thinking”

Things are getting critical for Ramses Jimenez

The 35-year-old Dominican actor has been cast in the John Leguizamo-directed film, Critical Thinking, which Leguizamo is also starring in along with Jorge Lendeborg Jr. and Michael K. Williams.

Ramses Jimenez

Set in 1998, the film is based on a true story of how a group of disparate kids from a working-class barriowest of downtown Miami are brought together by their inspirational chess coach, Mario Martinez (Leguizamo), at Miami Jackson High School to become the first inner city school to win the U.S. National Chess Championship.

Jimenez will play Andre, a powerful local drug kingpin who is very quick to pull the trigger when something bothers him on his streets.

His previous credits include television appearance in Fear The Walking Dead and Starz’s Latinx series Vida.