Last weekend’s SAG Awards ushered in another conversation about diversity in Hollywood, but unlike conversations of the past, this discussion was centered around the abundance of minority talent that was gracing the stage. But something else was also happening at that time — there were Spanish-language telenovela stars in the room and on the red carpet.
Throughout the night, the stage became a reflection of the diverse and rich population that the United States represents and as such, it became the topic of conversation online and throughout the weekend. And just like that, #SAGSNotSoWhite was born.
True to its core values of diversity and inclusion, SAG-AFTRA was ever so subtly shining a light on the increasing importance of multiculturalism and language variety on American television. They were calling out the lack of equity that exists in the world of Spanish-language television.
Currently, Spanish-language networks do not operate under SAG-AFTRA contracts, leaving talent without the protection and benefits that their English-language counterparts enjoy. While advertising revenue for Spanish-language networks is much lower compared to general market media, equity can still be achieved if parties recognize those disparities and negotiate a settlement that takes all these factors into consideration.
Spanish-language networks shouldn’t be subjected to second-class status when the audiences they serve — American Latinos — are among the best and most loyal of viewers in numbers that Nielsen recognizes and supports.
Just as Viola Davis said in her SAG-AFTRA award acceptance speech, “Diversity is not a trending topic.” This fact has never been truer. This award season serves as an opportunity for long-term change and a wake up call for Hollywood and the entertainment industry.
Alex Nogales, president, National Hispanic Media Coalition, Pasadena, Calif.