Frances Solá-Santiago
January 02, 2018 03:02 PM

Latinas in Hollywood continue to stand up to the entertainment industry powers that be. Whether it has been about media representation or the lack of quality roles, they have not shied away from highlighting the struggles for Hispanic women in show business.

The new anti–sexual harassment campaign titled Time’s Up, aimed at changing the work culture of the entertainment industry, is no exception.

At least a dozen Latinas in showbiz — such as Penélope Cruz, Ana Ortiz, Gina Rodriguez, Ana Brenda Contreras, Olga Segura, Rosario Dawson and Zoe Saldana — are among the 300 women who signed an open letter published in the New York Times on Jan. 1 (alongside a full-page ad), joining notable names like Emma Stone, Reese Witherspoon and hit-show creator Shonda Rimes.

Eva Longoria and America Ferrera, longtime advocates for diversity in Hollywood, further promoted the initiative as faces of Times Up, a series of financial resources and legislative proposals, by giving interviews to the paper. “We all recognize there’s no such thing [as a silver bullet]” but “not taking action is no longer an option,” Ferrera told the Times.

The open letter — which reads, “The struggle for women to break in, to rise up the ranks and to simply be heard and acknowledged in male-dominated workplaces must end; time’s up on this impenetrable monopoly” — was also featured within a full-page ad within the Spanish-speaking newspaper La Opinión.

Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic; Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic

This is fitting as the letter is inspired by (and a response to) an open letter in November 2017 on behalf of 700,000 female farmworkers written by the Alianza Nacional de Campesinas, which Times Up refers to at the beginning of its letter: “To the members of Alianza and farmworker women across the country, we see you, we thank your and we acknowledge the heavy weight of our common experience of being preyed upon, harassed and exploited…”

The Alianza letter was itself inspired by the early voices of the #MeToo movement. Since October 2017, a veritable wave of women in the industry have come forward with sexual harassment and assault allegations against high-profile and influential males such as movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, comedian Louis C.K., Today show host Matt Lauer, and talk show host Charlie Rose.

In December 2017, Salma Hayek penned an op-ed in the New York Times that revealed how Weinstein terrorized her during the filming of Frida, produced by his company. Other Latinas like Queen of the South’s Ximena Duque, actress Kate del Castillo and model Zuleyka Rivera have come forward with haunting tales of the sexual misconduct they have been forced to endure.

Latinas as a demographic group are particularly subject to exploitation, stereotyping and abuse in the entertainment industry. White non-Hispanic women earn 81 cents on the dollar, while Hispanic women are paid just 59 cents, says the Economic Policy Institute. Lack of representation is an issue: Only one in 1,114 directors in 2017 was Latina, according to a LeanIn.Org and McKinsey & Company report, “Women in the Workforce.”  Only 5.8 percent of speaking characters on-screen are Hispanic or Latino, according to this study released in 2016 by the Media, Diversity and Social Change Initiative. 

Time’s Up not only seeks to create a more balanced environment between the sexes, but also among marginalized groups of women. The project is launching a $13 million defense fund to help vulnerable women in less privileged professions, which will be administered by the National Women’s Law Center’s Legal Network for Gender Equity.

Adding momentum to the #MeToo movement during the upcoming awards season, Times Up is urging attendants to dress in black. “For years, we’ve sold these awards shows as women, with our gowns and colors and our beautiful faces and our glamour,” said Longoria. “This time the industry can’t expect us to go up and twirl around. That’s not what this moment is about.”

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