Interview: Latinas Gloria Calderón Kellett and Soraya Giaccardi Talk About the Need for Genuine Latino Representation in Media

Interview: Latinas Gloria Calderón Kellett and Soraya Giaccardi Talk About the Need for Genuine Latino Representation in Media
Credit: Gloria Calderón Kellett (left) Instagram/@gloriakellett -- Soraya Giaccardi (right)

As concerns about performative diversity and the sidelining of DEI roles persist within media companies, it’s crucial to spotlight individuals and organizations genuinely committed to celebrating and empowering the Latino community throughout the year. Among these champions are Gloria Calderón Kellett and Soraya Giaccardi – and they are making sure people learn about the research conducted by the Media Impact Project at the Norman Lear Center. This research was led by Dr. Erica Rosenthal.

The Media Impact Project and Hollywood, Health & Society are two branches at the Norman Lear Center that are dedicated towards research and outreach that provides the entertainment industry with accurate and up-to-date information for storylines on health, safety and security.

Though it seems like the same conversations are constantly being had, it’s only because the topic regarding representation is at the forefront of our community. Still, it is important to highlight these themes during Hispanic Heritage Month – even if this month is not necessarily representative of all the greatness our community brings to the United States all year long. Here’s the thing: While it might sometimes appear as a marketing milestone for companies, these 30 days provide a crucial opportunity to draw attention to the pressing issues. In this case, it is representation. 

So, to help us understand more about the findings in the research, Calderón Kellett and Giaccardi engaged with BELatina News. 

To start off, their insightful discussions underscored the stark reality our community faces: a severe lack of visibility on both the small and big screens. What little representation exists often falls short of capturing the diverse and multifaceted nature of our community. Calderón Kellett and Giaccardi articulated the need for media to reflect the nuances and complexities of our communities instead of relegating us to a handful of stereotypes. 

Giaccardi, Senior Researcher at The Norman Lear Center, played a pivotal role in this research endeavor. Her work shed light on the complex dynamics of Latino representation in media, providing essential insights into the challenges faced by the community. Collaborating with Hollywood, Health & Society, Soraya’s dedication to this research shows the importance of accurate and empathetic portrayals of the Latino community in media narratives. 

“Because Latinos are so severely underrepresented, to begin with, we don’t even get a chance to explore the full breadth and diversity within our communities,” Soraya Giaccardi told BELatina News. 

Calderón Kellett has long been a dedicated advocate for Latino representation in the media. Her contributions extend from her new series, “The Horror of Dolores Roach,” to her previous successes with “One Day at a Time” and “With Love.” Through her creative endeavors, Gloria continues to amplify Latino voices, telling stories that resonate with authenticity and cultural richness.  

Evidently, she understands why proper representation is needed. In fact, her stories are filled with diversity – no matter the setting or project, which is a breath of fresh air to a community whose been obsessed with white-washed representation in the media.  

“Everyone deserves to see themselves represented,” Gloria Calderón Kellett added. 

Gloria Calderón Kellett and Soraya Giaccardi Spell Out the Facts

In addition to their extensive work, Calderón Kellett highlights that Latinos have been at the forefront of entrepreneurship over the past decade, establishing a significant number of small businesses. She questions why this remarkable achievement often remains untold. The Cuban American director also underscores that Latinos have received numerous awards for their military service in the last decade, yet their stories often go unnoticed. 

According to Calderón Kellett, Latinos have been achieving incredible feats that deserve recognition. She urges for tangible support for Latino storytellers and business owners, emphasizing the importance of moving beyond empty gestures to authentic, sustained commitment to representation. 

“Latinos, in the last 10 years, have been the most entrepreneurial and have built the most small businesses,” Calderón Kellett said. “Where’s that story?”

Calderón Kellett firmly believes that advocating for Latino representation should be a year-round effort. She calls on consumers to voice their support continuously, aligning with her dedication to year-round advocacy. 

Giaccardi, on the other hand, brings her expertise to the table, shedding light on the complex dynamics of Latino representation. The Latina researcher points out that Latinos face severe underrepresentation, hindering the exploration of their diverse communities. 

Gloria, a member of Hollywood Health & Society’s advisory board, laments the short-lived nature, often lasting only one or two seasons before being canceled. She emphasizes the need for substantial support for Latino storytellers and business owners. 

“Our [Latino] shows get one to two seasons and then get consistently canceled,” Calderón Kellett said. “Let’s put our money where our intentions lie and try to support Latino storytellers and business owners as much as possible.”

Giaccardi also shares a concerning statistic, stating that in 2022, Latinos held only 2.3 percent of leading roles in films, a figure that remained consistent for theatrical films. Streaming platforms performed slightly better with 6.1 percent representation, but this still falls far short of reflecting the population’s diversity. The researcher stresses that over half of US Latinos are more likely to watch content featuring someone from their identity group. 

Everyone Deserves Proper Representation

With media playing a pivotal role in shaping perceptions, Giaccardi notes that negative rhetoric persists around Latino communities. However, she believes that entertainment possesses the power to challenge and correct this misinformation. And, not just for the Latino community, for other historically underrepresented communities as well. 

“Along with Gloria’s invitation to use this time to learn about Latino communities, I would love to invite Latinos to join forces with other underrepresented communities. We have 2 reports coming out before the end of the year  one on Native representation in collaboration with IllumiNative and one on Asian representation in collaboration with Gold House,” Giaccardi said.  

“Many communities are fighting for similar things  visibility, authenticity, and accuracy.  It’s not just our fight, and we’re stronger together!” 

The combined efforts of advocates like Gloria Calderón Kellett and researchers like Soraya Giaccardi serve as beacons of genuine change and progress in media representation. They remind us that celebrating and empowering underrepresented voices should extend far beyond a designated month, becoming an integral part of the industry’s core values.  

Let’s hope that Hollywood is taking note of how important this topic is to the fastest-growing demographic in the United States. Sooner or later, they will need our numbers and our influence. 

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