READ: Why the Creators of ‘El Chicano’ Fought for a Latinx Cast

By N. Jamiyla Chisholm May 02, 2019

It’s been three years since #OscarsSoWhite made headlines and Colorlines reported on a study that confirmed Hollywood’s “inclusion crisis.” On Wednesday (May 1), The New York Times published “An All-Latino Cast? Hollywood Passed, but ‘El Chicano’ Is Coming,” showing that not much has changed.

Starring a virtually all-Latinx cast, “El Chicano,” which opens tomorrow (May 3), showcases a Mexican-American cop who becomes a masked avenger after his brother is killed by a cartel. The article, written by Cara Buckley, examines Hollywood’s resistance to diverse stories and how filmmakers Joe Carnahan and Ben Hernandez Bray, who is Latinx and the film’s director, refused to compromise their superhero:


“Because we weren’t making ‘La Bamba’ or ‘Selena,’ I don’t think they could wrap their heads around an entirely Latino cast,” said Carnahan, whose movies include “Narc” and “The A-Team.” At least one executive told him that he needed to find a “Caucasian influence” in the film. Perhaps the grizzled veteran cop character could be a white guy, or maybe the hero’s partner on the police squad?

Unfortunately, there was nothing new about the challenges Bray and Carnahan faced while trying to make their film. Buckley writes:


Hollywood insiders said the resistance Carnahan and Bray faced remains, in many quarters, typical in the film industry. Darnell Hunt, dean of social sciences at the University of California, Los Angeles, and an author of the annual Hollywood Diversity Report, said he had fielded numerous complaints from filmmakers whose projects were passed over because they refused to compromise their vision of casting solely actors of color, or whose movies got made only because they inserted gratuitous White characters.

The hope is that films like “El Chicano,” “Black Panther” and “Crazy Rich Asians” will open the door to more films that tell Latinx stories:


Benjamin Lopez, executive director of the National Association of Latino Independent Producers, said that since “Panther” and “Asians,” there has been an acceleration in demand for Latino stories, directors and writers. Still, he said, films with all-Latinx casts tend to take far longer to get made than films with majority White casts.

Watch the trailer for “El Chicano”:

Read Buckley’s full article here.