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Study: Hispanics Underrepresented in Top Hollywood Films, Are More Likely to Appear Naked or in Tight Clothes

First Posted: Aug 04, 2014 04:14 PM EDT

According to a six-year-long study by the University of Southern California, Hispanics are highly underrepresented in top Hollywood movies and are more likely to show skin or don sexy attire in films than any other group.

The study, "Race/Ethnicity in 600 Popular Films: Examining On Screen Portrayals and Behind the Camera Diversity" was conducted by The Media, Diversity & Social Change Initiative of USC's Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, a USC press release reports. The study examined over 25,000 characters with at least one line in all of the top-grossing films from 2007-2013.

Although 2013 was "a banner year for black characters," thanks to movies like "12 Years a Slave" and "The Butler," Stacy Smith, the study's lead author, MDSCI director and USC Annenberg professor, said there is still a lack of film diversity. A little over 74 percent of the characters in the study were portrayed by white actors; non-Hispanic whites represent 63 percent of the U.S. population.

"In reality, we saw no meaningful difference in the representation of characters from underrepresented backgrounds across the six years we studied," Smith said via the release.

The study found that Hispanics played a mere 4.9 percent of the characters studied, despite the group representing 16.3 of the U.S. population and 25 percent of movie ticket sales.

"Hispanics and Latinos are one of the fastest-growing groups in the U.S.," Marc Choueiti, one of the study's authors, said. "If popular films were the only way to gauge diversity, viewers would be completely unaware of this. Individuals from this group are almost invisible on screen."

In addition, the study found that Hispanic actresses were more likely than actresses from any other race to show nudity on the big screen.

"Hispanic females (37.5 percent) were more likely than females from all other races/ethnicities to be shown partially or fully naked on screen," the report said.

Male Hispanics were "the most likely to be shown in tight, alluring, or revealing clothing," at 16.5 percent, the study found.

Blanca Valdez, head of a Los Angeles Hispanic casting agency, told The Associated Press that it's hard for Latinos to audition unless the role calls for "diversity" or a "multiethnic" actor. She has seen many Hispanics leave their last names out of their headshots. Still, Valdez is optimistic that studios will eventually "follow the money" and cater to the hand that feeds them.

"I hope this improvement continues because there's so much talent out there that doesn't get seen," she said.

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Follow Scharon Harding on Twitter: @ScharHar.

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