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Is it getting better.

Marco Rodriguez and Jason Nieves are too young to know the initial struggles of Latinos trying to break into Hollywood.

The young writers don't know what actors like Desi Arnaz, Cesar Romero or Anthony Quinn had to do to be taken seriously enough to land leading roles during some of America's most racially contentious times.

In the midst of those times, though, Latinos did enjoy some degree of success, many even doing so free of having to play to stereotypes which plague Latino actors and writers today.

Way back in 1951, Arnaz was starring opposite Lucille Ball in the wildly popular, <'I Love Lucy." In 1952, Anthony Quinn earned an Oscar for his work in "Viva Zapata!" He quickly followed that up with his second one in 1956's "Lust for Life."

Yet, despite these prolific entrances and demonstrated staying power of these and many other Latinos, the industry--more than 60 years later--has been slow to open the doors wide to Latinos, on either side of the lens.

Quinn had won two Academy awards a decade before The Civil Rights Act was passed; yet no Latino has won an Oscar for acting in the last 10 years.

For many Latinos, the trickle down of opportunities in Hollywood hasn't kept pace with the surging U.S. Hispanic population, a phenomenon that is nowhere near reaching its taper.

Nieves and Rodriguez, the voices for our agenda stow, are quick to acknowledge the disparity that exists between the perception and the reality. As Nieves put it, "I think in every, aspect ... across the board people of color are always going to have to work twice as hard to get twice as much."

Limiting these opportunities is perhaps the perception of Latinos as only being able to play stereotypical roles--gardeners, maids, criminals--or only being able to write about Latino-themed situations continues to plague the industry.

Entertainers like Nieves and Rodriguez have mustered impressive resumes across various media. But they both admit to, at times, having to grapple with the intangible truths of what Hollywood perceives them to be, and what Hollywood wants them to be.

But other Latinos like Cesar Conde ("Look What I Can Do," page 32) are creating content and distribution channels for Latinos from his offices in Miami, Florida.

The creative convergence of Univision and ABC reflect well the demographics of Latinos--diversity within a diverse group. Not all Latinos want content in Spanish or just want to watch novelas. The market is listening and meeting them where they are instead of trying to force them to appreciate "Latino" content without understanding who the Latino viewer is.

This edition could not cover every aspect of the plight of Latinos in mainstream media. The decision to focus on fine writers and young leaders was only to give a unique look into what Latinos are achieving despite what the numbers might suggest. We're not always able to find a silver lining, but when we do, we'll try. to promote it as much as we can, especially when most of the news surrounding Latino perception is mired in negativity.

Using stories like Conde's and others we have planned for the next editions, Latino Leaders hopes to inspire some confidence into this issue as well as prove that Latinos remain diligent and as innovative as ever.



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Title Annotation:EDITOR'S LETTER
Author:Baca, Eric
Publication:Latino Leaders
Date:Jun 1, 2012
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