Eva Longoria called out mainstream media and Hollywood on Saturday for continuing to perpetuate harmful stereotypes about people of color.
“The villainization of Black and brown people comes from the media. I mean news. I mean all of this misinformation, especially during election cycles. Specifically, being Latino, we’re murderers and rapists and we’re like, ‘That’s not who we are,’” she said during the keynote conversation at the Produced By conference.
Longoria was joined by Macro founder Charles D. King for the conversation, where the pair also discussed the importance of having producers of color making decisions about who is creating stories in the media, film and TV — and what they’re about.
“If the only thing that we’re ever seeing in movies and TV is the stereotypes and perpetuating those stereotypes, it educates other communities about us,” Longoria continued. “But most importantly, media informs ourselves of who we are, and that’s the problem. Our communities can’t look up and aspire to be and do more if all they see is ‘Narcos’ in TV and film.”
King wholeheartedly agreed with her, explaining that since founding his production company in 2015 (which has financed films like “Mudbound” and “Judas and the Black Messiah”), he has seen firsthand the impact of uplifting creators from marginalized communities.
“The power of storytelling is real,” he said. “There’s real power in showing the full spectrum of our communities, the excellence of who we are, instead of the same marginalized stories. And these stories are being told authentically now from our community. You have filmmakers and producers and directors from those communities telling those stories, instead of someone else telling our stories for us.”
Longoria nodded her head, chiming in: “Never about us without us.”
She also noted that, while stories about Black and brown communities are still viewed in much of Hollywood as “niche” projects, they are far more universal than many give them credit for.
“It’s monetarily sound. If you focus on these groups you actually will make money. I think people thought they were exclusive, like, ‘If we do the brown project then it’ll be niche,’” she said. “There’s so many stories like that, that I think are universal.”
Longoria added that she’s constantly driven by the unfairness of forcing projects from creators of color to shoulder the burden of proving that any of these stories are worth producing, which is not a burden that white directors and producers have to face.
“You get one bite of the apple, and if it fails then all brown projects fail. That’s the thing that really bugged me,” she said. “I remember, I won’t say names, but there’s a guy that directed one of those superhero movies and it failed. Literally, he got another one. I was like, ‘He just lost $300 million and he gets to do it again?’”