Entertainment

Emilio Estefan talks about the challenges of Latino representation in media

Legendary music producer Emilio Estefan weighed in on his thoughts on how to boost Latino representation in showbiz. Latinos, he said, should be true to their identities.

“I’m proud that I didn’t have to change my last name. I didn’t have to change my sound because people liked it,” he said. “We’re bringing something a little different and that’s what makes America.”

Cuban-American Estefan, who is married to superstar singer Gloria Estefan, has endured one of the relatively few key figures in American show business. He won 19 Grammys and President Barack Obama awarded both Gloria and Emilio Estefan the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015.

While Latino spending is a driving force in the U.S. economy, it still lacks media representation, according to a new report from the Latino Donor Collaborative.

By 2022, only 3.1% of TV show protagonists will be Latinos, and the percentage of representation in movies is no better. Still, Spanish customers bought 29% or $2.9 billion of all box office tickets sold in 2019, before the Covid pandemic closed theaters.

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The report also found that not only is there a lack of Latino representation, but many of the portraits of Latino are negative. Examples of these roles were undocumented immigrants, orphans, criminals, and poor and uneducated people.

“The unfortunate reality is that the representation of Latinos in mainstream entertainment in the United States is still very small and has not improved significantly over the past five years,” the report said.

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