The lack of Latino showrunners in Hollywood is being addressed by the Alliance of Latinx Executives and Rise Up who are partnering on an advocacy program that will pair 10 high-level executives with 10 high-level writers from the community to increase showrunner opportunities.
Of the 500+ shows in production during the 2021-22 television season, and the approximately 6K writers employed by those shows, less than 20 Latinx writers held the position of showrunner. It’s the second-most challenging roadblock for Latinx writers after breaking out of the entry-level staff writer position, according to the orgs.
The inaugural group of executives includes Joey Chavez (HBO Max), Tom Lerner (A+E Studios), Adam Martinez (CBS Studios), Alejandro Melendez (BBC Studios), Michelle Mendelovitz (Mattel Television Studios), Edy Mendoza (Netflix), Diana Mogollon (Independent) and Nina Tassler (Independent).
They will be partnered with the following writers: Davah Avena, Tawnya Benavides Bhattacharya & Ali Laventhol, Sal Calleros, Chad Gomez Creasey, Luisa Leschin, Evangeline Ordaz, Davy Perez, Carlito Rodriguez & Leah Benavides Rodriguez, Santa Sierra and Al Septien & Turi Meyer.
Over 25 Latinx writers submitted to join the program and were vetted one-on-one by a group of Latinx executives. The program’s goal is to repeat these pairings with new writers and new executives each year. There will be a networking mixer for all writers who submitted and executive members of the Alliance early in the new year.
“For too long, we have heard from studios and platforms that there aren’t enough high-level Latinx writers for them to hire for top showrunning positions. Our goal with this program is to change that perception and bring awareness to the amazing Latinx writers who have worked their way up the ranks on television’s biggest shows to earn consideration for these top jobs,” said John Pollak, a member of the Alliance of Latinx Executives. “We believe that peer-to-peer advocacy and executive-to-executive outreach will help give our program’s writers a voice and an opportunity that has eluded them for too long.”
Danielle Sanchez-Witzel, of Rise Up added, “The job of showrunner is a really difficult one to get whether it’s creating your own series or being brought on to run another series. But the difficulty isn’t in talent or ability – it’s in relationships. It’s in making sure that decision-makers at studios know who you are and believe in you enough to give you a shot. Our goal is to lift up talented, high-level Latinx/e writers and make them visible to run not only series featuring Latinx/e characters, but series of every genre, representing all characters, in any world. The obstacle cannot be a belief that no qualified BIPOC writers exist for these jobs. Here we are. Hire us”.
The Alliance of Latinx Executives consists of over 100 of the highest-ranking Latinx executives in the Entertainment industry. Initially formed to ensure Latinx representation reaches the highest levels of Hollywood, the Alliance has endeavored to create partnerships that use the Executives standing and relationships to elevate other Latinx groups within and outside of the entertainment industry.
The Rise Up initiative was founded by Danielle Sanchez-Witzel, Moisés Zamora, Christina Piña and Jorge Rivera as a commitment to advancing the careers of Latinx writers in Hollywood and breaking down systemic barriers to their progress. Past efforts include collaborating with UTA to introduce lower-level Latinx writers to literary agency readers and pairing them with experienced Latinx upper-level writer mentors, setting them up for success in their writing samples and interview processes.