The Media Imperative of Making BIPOC Talent Visible
Ben DeJesus’ Light, Camera, Acción premieres on American Masters Oct. 5
By Leslie Fields-Cruz
Last month, I noted how people of color secured more nominations than ever at the 73rd Emmy Awards. The run up to awards night was promising, but in the end, none of the BIPOC performers nominated in creative arts categories went home with statues. Sadly, we’re all accustomed to this outcome. But we’re not letting it stop us. In fact, the burgeoning number of films, TV and web series created by and featuring BIPOC talent — together with the increasing diversity of the viewing audience — all but ensures that our days of media invisibility are waning.
A new documentary short by Ben DeJesus, Lights Camera, Acción, examines the visibility issue through a Latinx lens. It features the candid perspectives of Latinx actors, writers, producers, directors, and showrunners across generations as they dissect the ever-evolving issue of Latinx representation in Hollywood. Included are actors Edward James Olmos, Gina Torres, John Leguizamo, and Julissa Calderon (Gentefied); showrunners Tanya Saracho (Vida) and Marvin Lemus (Gentefied), and more.
Lights, Camera, Acción premieres on American Masters Tues., Oct. 5. It is a co-production of NGL Studio and Latino Public Broadcasting, in association with American Masters Pictures. LPB is a member of the National Multicultural Alliance. Check local listings for times in your area. After the premiere, the film will stream on demand on the PBS Video app.
Another film to watch during these final days of Hispanic Heritage Month is Elena, a short film by Michèle Stephenson about the plight of Haitian Dominicans whose Dominican citizenship has been revoked — largely because they’re Black. More about that AfroPoP Season 13 film is featured in this month’s BPM newsletter.
As the mother of three Black Latinx children, this issue is personal for me. I know how important it is to make Latinx people, in all their diversity, visible on small and large screens. I applaud DeJesus, Stephenson, the producers at American Masters, and others for stepping up and making sure these stories come to light.
— Fields-Cruz is executive director of Black Public Media