LatinExcellence: Alan Luna hopes his eye for talent will change the face of Hollywood


As a casting director, people like him have the power to change that and open already closed doors for Latinx talent. In some cases, they even ensure that open doors do not close.

For example, take a project from years ago. While looking for someone to play the Mexican-American patriarch, some executives decided to start auditioning white men for the part because they had not yet found a Latinx actor they thought was a good fit for the role. was fit.

Luna said opportunities to become main characters in television series don’t come often for Latinx actors and it was “hard to witness” watching them slip through the cracks. He and many others – Latinx allies among them – decided not to be silent witnesses.

“[We] united to say to the network, ‘We don’t think that’s right. We think it’s a disservice to the community,” he said. This included people from various departments, including producers and a casting executive within the network.

The network came around after a few days and soon “the two people they loved met,” Luna recalled. These stories don’t always end like this, but Luna is glad she did.

Before Luna became a full-time casting director, she learned to develop Hollywood’s unscripted television shows from the beginning. It was there that the Los Angeles native learned how her work can directly affect the images people see on screen. In that, he knew, there was an opportunity to change things for the better.

“As the son of immigrants, it means a lot because you don’t really grow up thinking that’s attainable, and you don’t really grow up thinking that you’re actually capable of doing it,” he said. . “Being able to see that in the first year of my career immediately made me feel like, ‘Holy crap, I — this Latino first-generation kid from LA — can really make a difference in our industry.

One way he can do that is by falling back into the change he wants to see under the Latinx umbrella.

“When you look at the numbers in our representation on screen, in both the Americas and Latin America, the majority of people playing the leading roles are White-passing Latinos – Latinos who are of European descent, not necessarily Latinx people of Afro-Latinx or indigenous origin And I think it’s a problem – a big, big, big problem,” he said. “The fact that my mom doesn’t see that many leading women on screen is a problem for me because she’s the leading lady in her film.”

And, one could say, Luna is in her star — and it’s a game-changer.

Q&A:

Name: Alan Luna

work: “Am Casting, an office I and longtime casting director Michelle Adams co-founded together last year. We are one of the only casting offices in America to have two people of color as owners and partners. “

Projects I’ve worked on: “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” “Selena: The Series,” “Gente-Fied,” Disney Channel’s “Under Wraps”

Years in Entertainment: 1 1

Master: “Unofficially, Natalie Ballesteros, Director of Talent Casting at CBS and my partner Michelle Adams. Both are wonderful, talented, strong, BIPOC women who have always been there for me and for many others. Although they both treat me as equals.” Let’s see, I see them as a standard and a quality that I always want to maintain.”

Latino…De Donde?: “First generation Mexican-American, grew up on the Westside of Los Angeles.”

Latinx Tropes I’ll Forever Disappear: “There are a lot of stories out there about immigration, cartel members, cholo or helping us. Those are not the four things we are in life. And if it’s about one of those things, don’t make it trauma porn. Make it into art.”

Latinx actor/actress I think will be a huge star one day: melina bobadilla

Latinx show I wish everyone was watching/watched: “‘The Baker and the Beauty’, ‘One Day at a Time’ and ‘Vida’. I really want everyone to see the second part of ‘Selena: The Series’ because that show really meant a lot to me.” . And I want ‘In the Heights’ to be successful so that people can see that there is monetary value in our stories.”

The overused line that says when passing a Latinx project: “America isn’t really ready for this type of show” or “This show is too Latino.” And on the casting side of things, it’s a lot easier to turn a character into a white character as opposed to turning a white character into a black or Latinx or Asian character. I think there is an issue. If a casting call is for “open ethnicity,” we should prioritize artists from historically underrepresented communities.

What I think all casting directors can do to help increase Latinx representation is: 1) Hire assistants of color and pay them handsomely so that we can pave the way for them to one day become a casting director or executive – which are two completely different things that create impact in different ways. Even people from other fields should hire assistants of color because they could be future department heads and become more represented behind the scenes. We should also generalize to a work culture where we treat helpers over coffee, lunch, dinner, drinks, etc., whenever we can because those things add up to us faster than they ever did. . 2) Be aware of colorism and don’t be afraid to have a difficult conversation. It is important for our industry to understand why there has been a loud call for more and fair representation and to reflect how our communities really look in the past year and beyond. It is okay to admit that our industry has been wrong, let’s learn from the mistakes of our past generations and turn it into wisdom for the next generation of filmmakers, actors and artists. 3) Don’t be afraid to take on small projects from people of color that you wouldn’t normally do – an indie or a student film or a micro-budget. Your work can elevate them and help them get representation or funding for their next project, or help them sell the project. To be honest, a lot of those projects don’t pay much, but I balance my time to make sure I invest in those budding filmmakers and they pay it off in the front line.

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