Last week I found this article about Salma Hayek’s plan with her production partner to start a mini-studio catering to the Latino audience. They want to make English language films with Latino actors and cultural references. It is about time! Too often, we Latinos are portrayed negatively and narrowly in film. I think it is time for film makers to branch out and include us in a variety of English speaking roles. When I see Latinos portraying maids, coke dealers, gangsters, and illegal immigrants, I have a hard time identifying with the roles. But then again, I have had the unique experience of growing up around strong, professional Latino role models.
As the Latino population ages, they speak much less Spanish. Among the US born children of Mexican immigrants, English is the dominant language spoken at home. Conversion to English as the dominant language is usually complete by the third generation, and a minority of fourth generation Latinos speak Spanish fluently. Added to the English dominance, Latinos are now considered part of the mainstream by Nielson media research. These stats certainly reveal that the market is there for English language Latino themed films. There is also evidence suggesting that we favor the adoption of English to become part of American society. Hopefully, Salma is successful in this effort to expand the Latino film genre. I like her, and I know that she is going to be a very busy woman with this new goal and her new baby. Sometimes motherhood expands a woman’s multi-tasking capabilities. I am optimistic that she will tackle these endeavors with passion and creativity.