Eva Longoria makes Hollywood take notice during her Caring Women in Motion talk at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival.
“Desperate Housewives” alum, University of Southern California Annenberg professor and researcher Dr. Stacy L. Smith, making her feature directorial debut with. “Flamin’ Hot,” An inspirational story about a Frito-Lay janitor who invented the Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. The film won the audience award at the SXSW Film Festival.
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As a female director, first-time director and Latina director, Longoria said she felt “the weight of my community” and “the weight of every female director” when production began on “Flamin’ Hot”. speaking with Diversity Hollywood is not fair when it comes to films directed by female directors versus male directors, said Longoria, chief correspondent Elizabeth Wagmeister. She says there can be no room for error for a director like Longoria, as one flop could cost her another directing gig.
“We don’t get to bite too much at the apple,” Longoria said of Latina directors. “My movie wasn’t low-budget by any means—it wasn’t $100 million, but it wasn’t $2 million either. When was the last Latina-directed studio movie? It was like 20 years ago. We need a movie every 20 years.” Can’t get it.
Longoria continued, “The problem is if this movie flops, people go, ‘Oh Latino stories don’t work…female directors don’t really cut it.’ We don’t get too many at bats. A white male can direct a $200 million movie, fail and get another. That’s the problem. I get one at-bat, one chance, double I work hard, doubly fast, doubly cheap.
Longoria said, “You really carry generational trauma with you into the making of the film.” “For me, it fueled me. I persevered.
Dr. Smith – Founder of the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, which Unveiled Last Week inclusion list Praised Longoria for “Walking the Walking” — with the Adobe Foundation, which has teamed up with the actor-producer-director on the Inclusion Initiative, which provides research on diversity and inclusion in entertainment.
“This was a collaborative effort to reward those who are doing well on-screen when it comes to representation across multiple categories: gender, race, ethnicity, LGBTQ+ as well as those with disabilities and those over the age of 65. People,” Smith said, explaining the inclusion list. “Are we showing the stories that haven’t been told? And then who is working behind the camera?”
“The metric by which you measure success is important,” Longoria said. She said that studios or networks would pat themselves on the back saying, “We doubled the number of women behind the camera!” But Longoria says, “They’ve gone from one to two. And you’re saying, ‘Well, technically, you did, but still you only hired two women.’ So, how you measure success is really important. And inclusion is that metric so awesome because you can appreciate the people who are doing it right.
With “Flamin’ Hot”, Longoria was intent on creating an inspirational story about Latinos that resembled her own family, from her father to her uncle. The inspiring and hopeful story brings attention to how corporate America undervalues the Hispanic community. Longoria observed that the same could be said for Hollywood studios.
“28% of ticket buyers at the box office are Latino,” she said. “If you don’t have a Latino audience, your movie won’t be successful. Do you know how many Latinos came to ‘Crazy Rich Asians’? Do you know how many Latinos bought tickets to ‘Fast and the Furious’? We over-index on moviegoing, so why shouldn’t there be content for us if we’re ticket buyers? If we’re spectators? … For me, I take too much pride in throwing that purchasing-power weight around If you don’t talk to us, we can’t buy that movie ticket.
Even with the strides Hollywood has made with Latino inclusion, Longoria says not only is there a long way to go, but statistically the industry is lagging behind.
“We’re still underrepresented in front of the camera, we’re still underrepresented behind the camera, we’re still not tapping into the women of the Latino community,” Longoria said. “We were at 7% in TV and film, now we’re at 5%, so when you look at the data the myth that Hollywood is so progressive is a myth.”
“The illusion is that Hollywood is progressive,” she said. “The reality is that we are still far behind in equal representation.”
Watch Longoria and Dr. Smith’s full Kering Women in Motion talk here:
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