CBS Promises To Increase Latino Representation On Its Shows

Latino advocacy groups met with the network and were "impressed" by their progress.
Wilmer Valderrama in CBS's "NCIS."
Wilmer Valderrama in CBS's "NCIS."
CBS Photo Archive via Getty Images

The National Hispanic Media Coalition is singing a different tune when it comes to diversity efforts at CBS.

NHMC president and CEO Alex Nogales and other national Latino organizations are praising the network’s initiatives to increase Latino representation after a meeting with CBS Chairman and CEO Leslie Moonves last week. The organization’s statement, released Tuesday, stands in stark contrast to Nogales’ harsh critique of the network over the departure of “Hawaii 5-0” stars Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park in July.

In the press release, NHMC announced that CBS had agreed to “record commitments to represent Latinos at the network” during a meeting that included Nogales, Moonves, and Thomas A. Saenz, president and general counsel of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, as well as other network executives.

The meeting took three months to arrange and the NHMC had prepared a 30-person strike force for a possible demonstration outside of CBS, Variety reported. Instead, the Latino organizations were surprised with what the network showed them.

“We were prepared to be militant and were thinking about boycotts. They saw the handwriting on the wall. But when we came in, they disarmed us with new numbers and names.””

- Alex Nogales

“We were prepared to be militant and were thinking about boycotts,” Nogales told the Los Angeles Times. “They saw the handwriting on the wall. But when we came in, they disarmed us with new numbers and names.”

In the statement, the NHMC outlined CBS progress with Latino representation but did not release hard data. The organization said the network had doubled the number of Latino regular actors, doubled the number of Latino writers within the same period, agreed to order scripts from Latino content creators or order shows with Latino themes and agreed to “hear an additional 10 pitches from 10 Latino writers/producers.”

“We were very impressed with what they’ve done in just the past three months,” Nogales told Variety. “It just shows that when people really want to do something, they do it. They stop with the BS and they do it. As we were walking out, Thomas and I looked at each other and said, ‘If we’d known it was going to be that easy, we’d have asked for twice as much.’”

The meeting is the first in a series of actions from NHMC to get ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox to commit to improving Latino representation.

“We’re going to be very militant from here on out. ... The next target is Fox,” Nogales told The Associated Press.

In July, Nogales stood in solidarity with Kim and Park, the former “Hawaii 5-0” stars, after the actors announced their departure from the show. The Asian actors reportedly asked CBS for pay equal to their white co-stars but were offered 10 to 15 percent less.

“Given the networks’ record in terms of diversity, the loss atHawaii Five-0 is incredibly ill-advised,” Nogales said at the time. “I think it’s reckless. It’s going to cost them with the Asian community and with other communities of color.”

“When you have four people and they’re all talked about in the same breath, and you’ve not compensated them as the rest, it’s bigoted,” he added.

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