LATINO VOICES

America Ferrera: We Need Solidarity For Social Justice

"It’s no surprise that the best thing to be in this country is white and male. So what about all the rest of us?"
America Ferrera got real about diversity at the MAKERS Conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, CA.
America Ferrera got real about diversity at the MAKERS Conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, CA.

For the second year in a row, every actor and actress nominated at the Oscars is white. The hallowed awards show has become a focal point in the call for true diversity across the entertainment industry. On Monday night, producer and actress America Ferrera weighed in on what influencers need to do to fix the problem.

Ferrera, during a talk with Gloria Steinem on the opening night of the 2016 MAKERS conference, called for "multi-pronged solutions" that address the entire Hollywood pipeline -- from idea inception to the Academy Awards.  

"You have this group of people, who is largely old, white men, deciding what is going to be deemed good, valuable, watchable, interesting, worth your time -- that is a problem and that should be dealt with," said Ferrera. "[But] it starts all the way back with, whose stories are we telling? Whose stories are we supporting? How do we get more diverse voices to join an industry that seems so unfriendly to them? The playing field isn’t level and equal."

The "Superstore" star suggested that influencers need to use their time and resources to seek out and lift up creative voices who don't already have the resources to get their foot in the door:

At the moment, both in TV in film, the voices of young and diverse and unique storytellers are not being given the support they need to get into the room. For me, as a producer, that is something I strongly believe. We have to be reaching out and giving a helping hand to people who have the unique stories. The men who’ve been running the studios for years don’t know how to tell the stories we want to see about ourselves.

But, as Ferrera pointed out, the fight can't stop at inclusion of people of color in Hollywood. Solidarity across social movements is absolutely key if there's any hope of creating a more equitable society on a larger scale. 

"Something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately is all these different little fights for social justice happening: Black Lives Matter, diversity in Hollywood, women's representation in Congress and business," said Ferrera, "and I can’t help but get frustrated at how siloed our energies are."

Because, ultimately, the fight for racial equality and gender equality are inextricably linked. Ferrera rounded out her comments with a rousing call to action:

We’re all fighting for social justice, we’re all fighting to be seen as human beings even if we’re not white men... How do we come together? How do we say the fight for diversity in movies and television is not a black and white thing? It’s a black thing. It’s a woman thing. It’s a Latino thing. It’s an Asian thing. It’s a Native American thing. It’s all the rest of us. It’s no surprise that the best thing to be in this country is white and male. So what about all the rest of us? And instead of sectioning our energies, how do we harness our energy? How do we come together and say, we’re all fighting the same fight?

Activist squad, unite. 

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