Even before Sunday night's Oscars telecast, one prominent outlet had declared this year's Oscar presenters list to be "diverse," inaccurately reporting that 11 percent were "Hispanic or Black" when in fact, there wasn't one American Latino on the list. I love Penélope Cruz (one of this year's Oscars presenters) as much as the next Latino, but we don't know ourselves if the European actress identifies as Hispanic, and certainly not as an American Latina. It is certainly irresponsible for the Academy or media outlets to tout her as one of us on our behalf. The truth of the matter is that the diverse presenters they spoke of were African American.
I celebrate the fact that this year's Oscars had the most Black presenters, and that its host was openly gay and a woman. But lets be very clear: For the U.S Latino community, we were simply not invited. When you looked into the audience and on the stage, American Latinos were nowhere to be found.
I cheered Alfonso Cuarón and Emmanuel Lubezki's historic Oscar wins because of their talent and our shared cultural heritage. But I also realize that they don't reflect the experiences of American Latinos, as neither one was born or raised in the United States, or have a similar immigration experience as that of a majority of Latino immigrants. These are the Latinos that are still largely shut out from the film industry in front and in back of the camera.
This year's Oscars reveal another uncomfortable reality for the film industry: American Latinos, on average, watch more movies than any other American group, yet are the least represented on screen. The truth is that the American Latino community is an integral part of the American cultural fabric, but you wouldn't know that from watching Hollywood films or the Oscars.
At NHMC, we are proud to share a working relationship with major television network executives to continue to make inroads for diversity and Latino inclusion -- in fact, these entertainment executives will be keynoting at our upcoming MediaCon event on March 27 aimed to take American Latinos to the next level in the entertainment industry. I welcome and urge the same working relationship with major film studios and organizations.
The entertainment industry as a whole needs to understand that diversity is an American reality that cannot be ignored, and that including and respecting diversity is not only the right thing to do, it is also good for business. I recognize the steps made towards inclusion of American Latinos. But it is even more critical to recognize the long road still ahead. Or else we risk undermining progress thinking that we have reached real equality.