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Why Latinos Are the Multibillion-Dollar "New Mainstream" Audience

Why Latinos Are the Multibillion-Dollar "New Mainstream" Audience

Posted by PanamericanWorld on February 23, 2017

A former Nickelodeon exec writes about the "enormous" financial impact of Latinos as the group still lacks representation on the big screen, "leaving hundreds of millions in future revenue on the table."

The Academy has made positive strides since the #OscarsSoWhite campaign last year. The nomination of films such as Hidden FiguresFencesMoonlightMoana and Lion absolutely should be celebrated. But there still is much more work to be done to make the film industry reflect reality and make diverse stories come alive. What’s missing year after year? It’s time for Hollywood to understand that by not including Latinos and telling our stories accurately, they’re leaving hundreds of millions in future revenue on the table.

Latino financial impact is enormous. Today, Latinos wield an estimated $1.3 trillion in buying power. Latinos are responsible for 29 percent of the growth in U.S. real income since 2005. We are the fastest-growing demographic, and we love the movies. In 2015, one in every four movie ticket buyers was Latino. Overall, Latinos represent 20 percent of all media consumers.

We are the new mainstream.

So why aren’t film studios trying to target us? Why aren’t our stories told? Why hasn’t a Latina ever won the Oscar for best actress? Behind the camera, the Mexican director Alejandro Inarritu broke ground with his Oscar wins, but the onscreen visibility of Latinos just isn't there.

It’s easy to blame the Academy, but the problem starts long before awards season. It starts in the casting calls, scriptwriting and studios that don’t include Latinos — studios who don’t see the missed financial opportunities. It starts in executive suites where Latinos are few and far in between. Angelenos, in their everyday life, see the numbers and the vitality of Latinos in their city. However, that hasn’t moved them to find a place for members of this community in their movies.

Maybe this is a place where adults can learn from children. When I started at Nickelodeon, we were determined to reflect our audience of kids and their diversity, both in our programming and in the characters we had on screen. It was, simply stated, good for business — we wanted all kids. I was fortunate to be at the helm as president of Nickelodeon from 1996-2006 when the brand was coming of age. In my opinion, it was no coincidence that having one of the most diverse talent lineups correlated with 10 straight years when Nickelodeon was the No. 1 network in cable. During that time, we expanded our offerings from television to digital media and movies and became a licensing powerhouse. And kids who were excited about Nickelodeon became eager buyers of our products

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