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Dec. 3, 2022

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Coalition pushes diversity in front of, behind camera

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LOS ANGELES — Organizations representing Hispanics, Asian-Americans and Native Americans, who joined with the NAACP in 2000 to increase minority hiring in the TV industry, are broadening their focus to the big screen.

The Multi-Ethnic Media Coalition called Thursday on Sony, Warner Bros., Fox, Universal, Paramount and Disney to enter discussions aimed at bringing full diversity to on- and off-camera jobs, including the executive ranks.

The uproar over this year’s all-white cast of Academy Award acting nominees helped set the stage for the new effort, coalition leaders said. Latino representation in the nominees was only behind the camera, led by the Mexican filmmakers of “The Revenant”: director Alejandro Inarritu and cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki.

“Now is the time, while there’s a lot of attention focused on this,” said Daniel Mayeda, co-chair of the Asian Pacific American Media Coalition, one of the umbrella group’s members.

While the movie academy hastily adopted new rules aimed at breaking up future white monopolies for the Oscars, the studios and their hiring practices are the root of the problem, he said.

“We can have the most diverse set of awards voters, but we’re not going to have any nominations or wins for people of color if there are no roles,” Mayeda said.

The battle isn’t the same for every ethnic group.

While all minorities struggle to gain a foothold in films, it’s non-blacks who face the stiffest challenge. Jan. 30’s Screen Actors Guild Awards offered a dramatic illustration: There were a number of minority winners, including Idris Elba, Uzo Aduba, Queen Latifah and Viola Davis, all of them black.

Mayeda called their recognition “fantastic,” but said the diversity discussion has become “a little binary, a little black and white.”

Don Cheadle made a similar point during a recent interview with The Associated Press.

“Diverse doesn’t just mean more black people,” he said during the Sundance Film Festival last month. “Diverse means more representation from the entire diaspora of what the United States has to offer, not just one particular minority group.”

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