Hispanic Group Protests at Oscars Luncheon

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Latinos make up 18 percent of the population in the United States, but only 3 percent of speaking characters in films during the last decade were Latino, according to a study released in July by Stacy L. Smith, an associate professor at the University of Southern California. For the sixth year in a row, no Hispanic actors or actresses were nominated for Oscars, which will be awarded on March 4. Only one Hispanic man has won the best actor Oscar — José Ferrer, for “Cyrano de Bergerac” in 1951 — and no Hispanic woman has been named best actress.


Only one Hispanic man has won the best actor Oscar: José Ferrer, for “Cyrano de Bergerac” in 1951. No Hispanic woman has been named best actress.

Elizabeth Lippman for The New York Times

“When people think of diversity, they think of black and white,” said Moctesuma Esparza, a producer of films like “Selena” and the chief executive of Maya Cinemas, a multiplex chain. “Nobody thinks of other minorities unless it is pointed out.”

Growing animated, Mr. Esparza added, “Latinos, like all human beings, want to see themselves represented on screen.”

Joining Mr. Nogales and Mr. Esparza outside the Beverly Hilton were people like Santiago Pozo, the chief executive of Arenas Entertainment, which focuses on marketing studio movies to Hispanic audiences; and Gloria Molina, a former Los Angeles County supervisor. “The movie industry should be ashamed of itself,” Ms. Molina said.

Inside the hotel, John Bailey, the academy’s president, pointed out that it continues to work to increase diversity and referred to the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment, saying that he was thrilled that “fossilized bedrock” in Hollywood was being “jackhammered into oblivion.”

Because its high-wattage guests draw media attention, the Oscar nominee luncheon has become a platform for demonstrations before. In 2013, for instance, two anti-torture groups protested “Zero Dark Thirty,” a best picture nominee that was criticized for its depiction of “enhanced interrogation” in the hunt for Osama bin Laden.

Monday’s gathering came as “The Shape of Water,” a fantasy from the Mexican filmmaker Guillermo del Toro, garnered acclaim as the Academy Awards approach. Over the weekend, Mr. del Toro won the top prize at the Directors Guild Awards. “The Shape of Water,” about a mute janitor who falls in love with a sea creature, is nominated for 13 Oscars, with Mr. del Toro receiving nods for his producing, direction and screenwriting.

The purpose of the lunch is to gather nominees (205 this year, 175 of whom were in attendance) for the class photo and a celebratory glass of Champagne while pleading for brevity at the podium by the eventual winners. In remarks before lunch, Mr. Bailey told attendees not to begin acceptance speeches by going on about how heavy the statuettes are.

“And thank your mom,” he said, “not your personal trainer.”

Correction: February 6, 2018

An earlier version of this article misidentified in one instance the name of the hotel where a lunch for Academy Award nominees took place. As stated later in the article, it was the Beverly Hilton, not the Beverly Hills Hotel.

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