By Helen Sorme
Latinx writers are a part of the nearly 12,000 Writers Guild of America (WGA) union members who have been striking in Hollywood for over three months. However, Latinx writers, along with writers of other minorities, face struggles that their white counterparts don’t: underrepresentation.
In 2023, Latinx writers made up 1.1% of all writers for films that were shown in theaters, while white writers composed 87.6% of theatrical film writers.
Why are Latinx writer numbers so low? It can be attributed to Hollywood’s shift towards a gig economy, shortening television seasons to maximize released content. “Minirooms,” which are small groups of writers who work on these condensed seasons and finish before the show’s production starts, are notable contributors.
Producers often won’t rehire these writers, and instead bring in new writers for the next season, creating a revolving door of writers. This not only creates a bottleneck, preventing these writers from advancing to more reliable, long-term productions, but also leaves them scavenging for projects.
On the other side of the spectrum, Latinx writers at higher-level positions aren’t offered executive producer jobs at the same caliber as white writers in the same positions, mirroring similar patterns in countless industries in the U.S.
However, the Committee Advisory Panel (CAP) in the Writers Guild of America advocates for equal treatment of underrepresented writers. CAP offers 12 committees for minority writers to join, including the Latinx Writers Committee, Committee of Women Writers and LGBTQ+ Writers Committee among others. According to the WGA website, CAP “oversees the Guild’s open committees and advises the Board on policy related to those committees.”
What are Latinx writers looking to achieve in the WGA strike? At a strike on May 8, Latinx Writers Committee Vice Chair Jorge Rivera made note of the motivation behind his committee’s actions:
“Latino writers, BIPOC, the LGBTQ+ community and older writers, we’re often the last ones to get hired and the first to get fired,” said Rivera. “We wanted to be out and be a show of force for the community and also to support the union in general.”
Guidelines for Wgaw Cap and open committees. Guidelines for WGAW CAP and Open Committees. (2022, April). https://www.wga.org/members/membership-information/committees/handbook/standards
Latinx on the lines. Latinx on the Lines. (2023, May 8). https://www.wgacontract2023.org/on-the-line/latinx-on-the-lines
Ramón, Dr. A.-C., et al. (2023). Hollywood diversity report 2023. Social Sciences. https://socialsciences.ucla.edu/hollywood-diversity-report-2023/