If Hollywood has learned anything over the last year it’s that appealing to Hispanic audiences is the sweet spot of success.
Last December, a Motion Picture Association of America study found that Hispanics bought 25 percent of the tickets sold in 2013 despite making up only 17 percent of the population. But it doesn’t stop there. This summer, which was the film industry’s worst at the box office since 1997, saw Hispanics buy at least 20 percent of opening weekend tickets sales for every hit, according to Nielsen research reported by The Wrap’s series on the power of Hispanic moviegoers.
And now Variety and Variety Latino have released the study “Power of Latinos: 20 Most Influential Stars List” -- which aims to rank film and TV’s most beloved stars within the community.
The ten men and ten women were chosen with the help of celebrity brand strategist Jeetendr Sehdev who took a random sampling of Latinos in different cities in the U.S. to make a definitive list of the most powerful Latinos on the big and small screen.
According to Variety, 78 percent of those surveyed said that celebrities who crossed over from Spanish-language careers to Hollywood were “great role models.”
“Conventional wisdom leads us to believe the bigger the celebrity, the more influential. However, the study reveals the Latino celebrities who seemingly integrate aspects of the Hispanic culture into the mainstream culture are in fact the most influential and respected,” Sehdev said of the study, which can be seen on the Variety’s website and September 30 print edition.
Despite not focusing on the stars’ success in the industry, some of the top names on the list are Latinos who have found mainstream fame in the U.S.
At the top of the women’s list is Sofía Vergara, also known as TV’s highest-paid actress two years in a row according to Forbes. The Colombian actress has increased her brand power thanks to endorsements deals with CoverGirl, Pepsi, Rooms To Go, Head And Shoulders and more, not to mention a fashion line with K-Mart and as the co-founder of the LatinWE talent management company.
Despite her popularity, Vergara has been called out in the past for promoting stereotypes with her role as Gloria in ABC's award-winning series "Modern Family." In late August, the star also received backlash after she stood on a rotating pedestal showing off her figure at the Emmys as the president of the Academy said TV has always presented viewers with "something compelling to look at" and delved into the topic of diversity on television.
The top spot on men’s list, however, was taken by an actor who until last September had not achieved significant success in the U.S. Mexican actor turned director Eugenio Derbez changed all of that with the release of his record-breaking film “Instruction Not Included,” which unseated Guillermo del Toro’s “Pan’s Labyrinth” as the most successful Spanish-language film in the history of the United States.
Derbez’s film opened Labor Day weekend, competing with blockbusters like “The Butler” and “Planes,” and stunned Hollywood with a $10 million dollar opening on limited release.
Javier Bardem and Michael Peña took the second and third slot for the men, while Eva Longoria and Jennifer Lopez followed Vergara as the most influential Latino women in TV and film. Check out the full list on Variety.com.