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Latino Writers Join Forces to Increase Job Opportunities

September 14, 1989|CLAUDIA PUIG | Times Staff Writer

A myth fostered by the entertainment industry, said writer-director Luis Valdez, is that Latinos "only exist in the Southwest, behind adobe walls and under tile roofs."

In an effort to combat such stereotypical portrayals, Valdez and officials from Nosotros and the Hispanic Academy of Media Arts and Sciences--organizations that represent Latinos in the entertainment industry--announced formation of the Latino Writers Group, designed to increase wages and improve employment opportunities for Latino writers.

"The embryo is the screenplay," said Valdez, who wrote "Zoot Suit" and "La Bamba." "The embryo, in fact, is what is written on the page. This is where you begin to tell the difference between a stereotype and reality."

Reality for many Latino writers appears bleak as far as employment opportunities are concerned, Valdez said. The intent of the Latino Writers Group is to ameliorate conditions for those "who feel themselves invisible, alienated and divorced from the practical decision-making of the entertainment industry," he said.

The writers group was formed in reaction to a study of employment practices in Hollywood commissioned by the Writers Guild of America West. The study revealed that job opportunities and pay scales for minorities and women have remained stagnant or grown worse in the 1980s.

The employment study, entitled "The 1989 Hollywood Writers' Report: Unequal Access, Unequal Pay," was based on information supplied to the Writers Guild by its members from 1982-87. It found that there were only 185 minority members of the Writers Guild, out of a total membership of about 6,400 writers. Of those 185, only 43 were Latinos--29 men and 14 women, the study showed.

The Latino Writers Group will hold workshops and seminars for struggling screenwriters and will form a political action arm to pressure studios to produce scripts written by Latinos. It will also attempt to raise money to develop, fund and market Latino projects, Valdez said.

Information on the group's activities is available from David Dantes at (213) 463-1199 or Leo Perez at (818) 505-7714.

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