Key Points :
- Eva Longoria, during her talk at the Cannes Film Festival, emphasized the challenges faced by female and Latina directors in Hollywood. She highlighted the pressure on her as a first-time director and the limited opportunities available for marginalized groups.
- Longoria expressed her determination to challenge the underrepresentation of Latinos in the film industry, both in front of and behind the camera. She stressed the importance of authentic storytelling that resonates with diverse audiences, citing the significant buying power of the Latino community.
- Dr. Stacy L. Smith praised Longoria’s efforts and collaboration on diversity and inclusion initiatives. Longoria and Smith emphasized the need for meaningful progress in representation, both in terms of diverse stories being told and the inclusion of marginalized individuals in key roles.
- Despite some progress, Longoria highlighted that the industry still has a long way to go. Statistics show a decrease in Latino representation, and Hollywood’s perceived progressiveness often falls short of achieving equal representation.
- Longoria’s directorial debut, “Flamin’ Hot,” aims to tell an inspirational story about the Latino community and challenge corporate America’s underestimation of its potential. She aims to create content that speaks to and represents the audience’s diverse experiences.
Full Story :
During her Kering Women in Motion talk at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival, Eva Longoria delivered a powerful message that reverberated throughout Hollywood. The acclaimed actress, known for her role in “Desperate Housewives,” took the stage alongside Dr. Stacy L. Smith, a renowned professor, and researcher from the University of Southern California Annenberg. Longoria, who is making her directorial debut with “Flamin’ Hot,” a film about the inspiring journey of the Frito-Lay janitor who invented Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, addressed the challenges she faced as a female, first-time, and Latina director.
Longoria expressed that she keenly felt the weight of her community and the collective expectations placed upon her as she embarked on the production of “Flamin’ Hot.” She highlighted the unfair treatment female directors often experience in Hollywood, particularly when their films underperform compared to those directed by men. For Longoria, there was no room for error, as one setback could jeopardize her chances of securing future directorial opportunities.
Latinx directors, according to Longoria, face an even more arduous journey. She emphasized that her film, while not astronomically high-budget, still faced considerable challenges. Longoria questioned the lack of Latina-directed studio films, noting that the last one was released two decades ago. The infrequency of opportunities for Latina directors was a cause for concern, as it perpetuates the narrative that Latino stories do not resonate with audiences and that female directors are incapable of delivering successful films.
Longoria further expounded on the disparity in the film industry, highlighting the stark contrast between the opportunities given to white male directors and those afforded to women and minorities. While a white male director can direct a $200 million film, fail, and still secure another chance, the same luxury is seldom extended to others. Longoria stressed the immense pressure she faces as a female director, necessitating her to work twice as hard, twice as fast, and with stricter budgetary constraints.
Longoria’s commitment to her craft was acknowledged by Dr. Smith, who praised her for “walking the walk.” The two have collaborated closely on the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, which conducts research on diversity and inclusion in entertainment. Recently, the initiative unveiled The Inclusion List in partnership with the Adobe Foundation, which recognizes individuals and productions that excel in on-screen representation across various categories, including gender, race, ethnicity, LGBTQ+ representation, disability, and age over 65.
Longoria stressed the importance of measuring success accurately. She critiqued the tendency of studios and networks to celebrate marginal increases in female representation behind the camera while still hiring an inadequate number of women. The metric of inclusion becomes essential in evaluating progress, as it allows for applause when the industry truly embraces diversity and representation.
In creating “Flamin’ Hot,” Longoria was resolute in crafting an inspiring story about the Latino experience, drawing from her own family members, such as her father and uncles. The film examines how corporate America underestimates the Hispanic community—a sentiment that also resonates within Hollywood studios, according to Longoria.
Pointing out that 28% of ticket buyers are Latino, Longoria emphasized that a film’s success relies on appealing to this demographic. She cited the high turnout of Latinos for films like “Crazy Rich Asians” and the “Fast and the Furious” franchise. The Latino community over-indexes in movie attendance, making it essential to cater to their interests and stories. Longoria proudly asserted the influence of Latino purchasing power, emphasizing that content must resonate with this audience to encourage their support.
Despite some progress in Latino representation, Longoria underscored the long road ahead and the industry’s statistical regression. She highlighted the ongoing underrepresentation of Latinos both in front of and behind the camera