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Paramount says it is making progress on Latino representation after criticism

Paramount says it is making progress on Latino representation after criticism
A view of of the Melrose Avenue entrance to the Paramount Pictures lot in Hollywood. (Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times)

After criticism from two media watchdog groups, Paramount Pictures said Wednesday that it is making progress on the issue of Latino representation in its movies.

Paramount was recently targeted by the National Hispanic Media Coalition and the National Latino Media Council, which have said that the studio has failed to adequately include Latino talent both in front of and behind the camera.

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“We recently met with NHMC in a good faith effort to see how we could partner as we further drive Paramount’s culture of diversity, inclusion and belonging,” a studio spokesperson said in a statement.

“Under our new leadership team, we continue to make progress — including ensuring representation in front of and behind the camera in upcoming films such as ‘Dora the Explorer,’ ‘Instant Family,’ ‘Bumblebee’ and ‘Limited Partners’ — and welcome the opportunity to build and strengthen relationships with the Latinx creative community further.”

Paramount is headed by Chairman and Chief Executive Jim Gianopulos, who took over the reins of the studio last year.

The National Hispanic Media Coalition said Wednesday that Paramount’s chief operating officer, Andrew Gumpert, declined to sign a memorandum of understanding at the June 25 meeting. The memo would have committed the studio to evaluating diversity and inclusion performance on an annual basis.

“We wanted to reach an agreement where they promised a safe space for our people to find work & have opportunities to better represent,” the group said on Twitter.

Latinos had only 3.1% of the speaking roles in the films released by the six major studios from 2007 to 2016, according to a USC study.

The National Hispanic Media Coalition described Paramount as “the worst studio in town in hiring Latino actors, writers, and directors.”

Paramount, which is a division of Viacom, is set to release “Bumblebee” — a spinoff of its “Transformers” franchise — in December. “Dora the Explorer,” “Instant Family” and “Limited Partners” are expected to be released in 2019.

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