By Sarah M. Vasquez

Tom Llamas, Carolina Saavedra, John Leguizamo, and Ben DeJesus at a SXSW panel on Latino representation in film
L to R: Tom Llamas, Carolina Saavedra, John Leguizamo, and Ben DeJesus

At South by Southwest (SXSW) this year, Latino creatives from John Leguizamo to Julio Torres to Cheech Marin sounded off on the importance of our community creating our own stuff – we can’t wait for the powers that be to invite us in.

“We want diversity, but what are they greenlighting?” asked John Leguizamo during a SXSW panel. The annual festival hosted a week of conversations, film screenings, and music performances in Austin, Texas. On the surface, it seems that Latinos are getting more representation and appreciation in Hollywood. Eva Longoria’s directorial debut, Flamin’ Hot about the former Frito Lay janitor’s creation of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, won an Audience Award at the film festival, along with The Long Game, about a group of Mexican-American students who compete in high school golf. However, the conversations surrounding the topic of diversity at SXSW revealed that there’s still more work to be done.

Moderated by NBC News Anchor and Senior National Correspondent Tom Llamas, Leguizamo, Director Ben DeJesus, and Showrunner Carolina Saavedra previewed their upcoming show, Leguizamo Does America, which premieres on April 16 on MSNBC. The six-part series follows the actor as he travels across the country to celebrate Latino history, culture, and communities. He said that this English language show is the first of its kind: “This show is about Latino exceptionalism, and what we’ve survived in this country,” said Leguizamo. “It proves that being Latino is a superpower.”

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Latina Media Co. is a partner of the ERA Coalition and the Fund for Women’s Equality.

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