“I’m boycotting,” he tells Yahoo Entertainment. “If you don’t have Latin people, there’s no reason for me to see it. What’s the point?”
“It’s unbelievable that our stories aren’t being told and there’s one reason for that,” he explains. “Executives don’t see us, don’t get us — don’t care about us.”
There are zero nominations for Latinx shows or actors in any of the major categories. “We’re less than one percent of the stories being told by Hollywood streamers and networks, that’s cultural apartheid,” he says.
In a statement to the Los Angeles Times, the Television Academy addressed the need for representation, saying, “We feel it is a very positive sign that over the past decade the well-deserved recognition of performers of color has increased from 1 in 10 to 1 in 3 nominees across all performer categories. Clearly that increase in representation has not been equal for all groups, and clearly there is still more to do to improve both gender and racial representation across all categories.”
The actor turned director’s latest movie, Critical Thinking, premiered Sept. 4 and includes a predominantly Black and Latinx cast, which was a motivating factor for Leguizamo to be part of the film.
Critical Thinking tells the true story of five Latinx and Black teens from an underprivileged Miami neighborhood, who become the 1998 National Chess Champions. Leguizamo plays the inspirational chess coach and also makes his directorial debut.
“I’m just dying to see positive Latin stories out there,” he says.
While he’s been in the industry for more than three decades and has received four Emmy nominations, including a win in 1999 for his variety special Freak, Leguizamo agrees there is more to be done to improve diversity in Hollywood.
“It’s just not OK to ignore us, exclude us,” he explains. “We’re the largest minority group in the country. We’re the biggest voting block. We’re going to decide who the president is this year.”
Folks online have called out the Emmys for its exclusion of Latinx-centered shows. The hashtag #LatinosAreOnTvToo has circulated with many reacting to the snub.
“The cards have always been stacked against us and yet we are incredible thrivers,” Leguizamo says. “We’re survivors and thrivers — and we’re still here contributing $1.3 trillion to the U.S. economy every year.”
He encourages la raza (the race) to stay positive. “We just need to have somebody, you know, give us the pat on the back and represent us correctly.”
Critical Thinking is currently streaming on Amazon Prime. You can also rent or buy it on Vudu, iTunes, DirectTV and FandangoNow.
The live telecast of the 72nd Primetime Emmy Awards airs Sunday, Sept. 20 at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on ABC.