December 2021 UCE

DGA Latino Summit

December 4, 2021 A DGA Latino Committee Virtual Event

On December 4, DGA members from all over came together online for a virtual celebration of the Latino members of the Guild during the first-ever DGA Latino Summit. Hosted by the Latino Committee (LC), the event was a launching point to discuss important topics in the film and television industry and featured two roundtable conversations addressing the underrepresentation of Latino Directors and Director’s team members and a mixer devoted to directly addressing that issue.

The Summit began with LC Career Advancement Sub-Committee members Regina Ainsworth and SJ Main Muñoz introducing DGA President Lesli Linka Glatter, who welcomed the attendees.

“The chronic lack of inclusion by the studios and networks is something our Guild has been fighting against for a very long time, as we’ve pushed for meaningful change,” said Glatter in her opening remarks. “It’s mind-boggling to think that despite such a high Latino population in this country, especially here in the industry’s home of Los Angeles, that so many of the gatekeepers continue to bury their heads in the sand on this issue. Last season, our annual inclusion report found that just 7% of dramatic TV episodes were directed by Latinos – that number has barely changed over the years. And while our panelists today will take a deep dive into the many factors and potential solutions to this injustice, there are some things we know are NOT a factor – like talent and compelling stories. There is certainly no lack of either across this vibrant, multi-faceted community, as evidenced by all the compelling work of our Latino members.”

After thanking the LC Co-Chairs Ed Ornelas, Jay Torres and Alicia Zaragoza, and the Career Advancement Sub-Committee for planning the Summit, Glatter turned things over to LC Co-Chair Zaragoza, who delivered an “Identity Statement” that revealed how the Latino population is the second-largest demographic watching film, television and streaming content in the U.S. and yet the Community is the most underrepresented population telling stories in entertainment.

“This cannot continue,” said Zaragoza. “It’s time to elevate and amplify our community. We have much ground to cover. With a unified front, we will begin to change the story, right here, right now.”


DGA Latino Summit Webinar

DGA Latino Roadmap to Inclusion

The first part of the Summit’s webinar kicked off as LC Career Advancement Sub-Committee member Eli Gonda introduced the participants of the first of the two roundtable conversations, DGA Latino Roadmap to Inclusion. This panel was a solutions-based conversation with top industry decision makers: Heyday Films President Jeffrey Clifford, WME Agent Daniela Federman and Executive Producer Roberto Patino (DMZ). In a conversation moderated by LC Co-Chair/Director Edward Ornelas (Promised Land), the panel discussed concerns about the current state of the industry and how to create pathways to employment for the Guild’s Latino members.

During the conversation, Patino recalled his path to where he is in the industry and the responsibility that brings. “Every day when I walk into the office, I’m very cognizant of the fact that when I was in the mailroom I was the only Latin assistant, the only one who spoke Spanish. I feel honored to represent the talent that I do, and I feel an incredible responsibility to represent that talent well.”

Clifford suggested that the process of opening doors can also begin with self-belief. “It’s about opportunity and about pipeline and believing you [a metaphorical Latino director] are capable of doing that.”

“There’s a wealth of talent and a desire to hire talent, but a dearth of talent circulating the suites of the places that push the ‘go ahead’ buttons,” said Federman. “This where the onus falls on the community: We have to celebrate and talk about each other’s work. We have to pass it around; we can’t rely on existing structures… because there is only so much that network executives or studio executives will be willing to bet on.”

Increasing Latino Visibility

The Summit’s webinar continued as LC Career Advancement Sub-Committee member Daniel Bydlowski introduced the participants of second roundtable conversation, Increasing Latino Visibility. This panel featured Journalist Carlos Aguilar (LA Times, The Wrap, Indiewire), CAA Agent Jon Cassir, Amazon Studios Senior Executive Lorenza Muñoz and UCLA’s Director of Research and Civic Engagement, Dr. Ana-Christina Ramón, who shared their observations and insights pertaining to the lack of Latino representation in mainstream media. In a conversation moderated by Director Patricia Riggen (Dopesick), this select group of industry professionals explored topics relating to this issue including where does it originate; why is it so pervasive; and offered suggestions on what can be done to reverse it.

During the conversation, Aguilar touched on a perception problem that exists in the industry and how it can be corrected. “We have so many, sort of, sub-groups within the community that the question of representation becomes very difficult to talk about. A show that depicts Chicanos in East LA might not speak to the Cubans in Miami, and so on, so on. But the industry still thinks that one thing should fit all.”

“What we have found, consistently, is that year after year diversity sells and that increasingly diverse audiences want diverse content,” said Dr. Ramón. “There’s no way around that. Nobody can make an excuse.”

Giving the view from the agency side, Cassir commented, “It’s really incumbent on us as representatives and advocates to talk to our clients and really say to them the walls and barriers are crumbling down and there’s no reason we shouldn’t be looking at really well-known library titles from different studios and elsewhere and saying, ‘What’s your version of this story?’ We can actually tap into a whole new market.”

Muñoz summed it up adding, “It’s not just about the agencies, it’s not just about the studios, it’s about all of us working together to build this [community of Latino creators].”

Webinar Closing address - Latino Representation Matters

The webinar portion of the Summit ended with the closing address, Latino Representation Matters, delivered by LC Career Advancement Sub-Committee members Regina Ainsworth and SJ Main Muñoz.

Ainsworth hit the audience with the plain financial statistics of the matter, stating, “We represent one in five Americans, so 100% of that money's being left on the table. There’s so much more reach and so much more power we have as a community.”

Main Muñoz summed up the consensus of the day when she said, “No matter how non-uniform our community may be, how diverse our histories, our voices are rich; and our cinematic visions are unique, special, and valued. Together the DGA Latino Community can stand united and continue to set goals for our future. Mas fuertes, juntos.”


Latino Summit Mixer

Following the webinar, the Summit moved into directly addressing some of the issues raised via a mixer where Latino members of the Guild could meet online with industry decision-makers in breakout room sessions that included Executives and Representatives from companies including: Disney, Endeavor, HBO, Paramount, Netflix and Sony; Agents from Paradigm, RBEL and Verve; as well as Executive Producers and UPMs from various projects.


ABOUT THE COMMITTEE:

The Latino Committee was created as a networking group to advance career and job opportunities for Latino DGA members by improving craft skills, networking, and making Latinos better known to the Hollywood creative community. The current Committee Co-Chairs are Directors Edward Ornelas and Jay Torres and Second Assistant Director Alicia Zaragoza.


DGA Members click here to view the summit.
See video highlights from this event in the gallery below.

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