New Study: 2016 Was the Worst Year for Latinos in Film in Nearly a Decade

The Latino population may be rising—and buying more movie tickets than any other minority group—but Hollywood doesn’t seem to notice, or care.

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According to a dismal new report from the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, only 3.1 percent of the roles in the 100 top-grossing films of 2016 were Latino. That's the lowest it's been since the school began conducting the research back in 2007.

"Latinos are the most underrepresented racial/ethnic group, compared to the population," USC’s communications professor and author of the study, Stacy L. Smith, told LA Weekly.

While the numbers have always been small (4.9 percent in 2014 and 5.3 percent in 2015), now we’re moving backwards, and it’s alarming.

"People behind the scenes are still predominantly white men, and they're just not conscious," Nancy Wang Yuen, a sociology professor at Biola University and author of Reel Inequality: Hollywood Actors and Racism told LA Weekly. “There has to be intentionality.”

Luckily, some companies are working to change that. Latina founder and current CAA talent agent, Christy Haubegger, recently told EW, "I feel like my life’s work is empowering and elevating who gets to tell stories and whose stories get told. We’ve seen from lots of academic research that diversity drives innovation, and we [now] realize if we bring new voices into our industry—women’s voices, voices of people of color, views of disabled people—we’re going to get better stories."

PLUS: 13 Times White People Stole Latino Roles

While Haubegger and her team work to recruit more diverse writing talent, what can we do as moviegoers? As Smith told LA Weekly, "Consumers do have the power to vote with their dollars and to use their social channels to ask for better representation."

Haubegger agrees. "Seven of the ten largest movies had an opening-weekend audience that was majority nonwhite. That was fascinating. At every budget level, a film with a cast that was 30 percent or more diverse outperformed, in its opening weekend, one that was not. “[Diversity] is not something that’s just ‘nice to do,'” Haubegger says. “It’s actually essential if you want to succeed.”