CHCI Honors Norman Lear with its Inaugural Pioneer Award
Congressman Joaquin Castro Led Panel Discussion on the Importance of Representation in American Television with Norman Lear, Rita Moreno, Justina Machado, Tony Plana and Paul Rodriguez
(Los Angeles, CA) – City Club in downtown Los Angeles, recognizing his commitment and contributions to diversity and inclusion in American television.
CHCI President and CEO Domenika Lynch, shared the organization’s history and mission to develop the next generation of Latino leaders and highlighted that “without strong national representation in Congress that the Latino community could not advance and realize their full potential as civically engaged citizens.” With the country’s population currently at 18% Hispanic, Lynch highlighted the importance to do more to increase the representation of Latinos in Congress, television and film, and across all industries.
CHCI Chair and Texas Congressman Joaquín Castro, who serves on both the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the House Foreign Affairs Committee, noted that, “If you look around the country you realize that not only in government and in Washington, are Latinos underrepresented, but across the American economy; in the finance industry, in law, in business, in non-profits, and certainly in the entertainment industry,” said Rep. Castro. Castro presented Lear with CHCI’s “Pioneer Award,” recognizing his contributions as “a pioneer who has broken down barriers on behalf of not only Latinos, but also African-Americans.”
Rep. Castro and Lear then began a one-on-one discussion titled “Then & Now: A Transformative Conversation.” They touched on Lear’s important achievements, as well as the state of the U.S. film and television industry in 2017, compared to the 1970’s.
When asked where he sees television then versus now, Lear responded, “In terms of what influence we need, we have a long way to go, whether we’re talking about race, or color, or any of the social problems.”
Actors from the 2017 remake of “One Day at a Time,” including legendary EGOT winner, Rita Moreno, star Justina Machado, and guest star Tony Plana participated in the conversation. Actor and comedian Paul Rodriguez also joined and reminisced about Lear’s influence in his career and the creation of 80’s sitcom “AKA Pablo.” The panelists discussed their personal experiences in Hollywood, the challenges minority actors continue to face both on-screen and behind the camera, and what Latinos can do collectively to achieve progress.
“I remember a time when I was told that the door is ajar for Latinos, but it’s more open now,” said Rita Moreno.
“(African-Americans) are well-represented,” said Paul Rodriguez. “Latinos have a great deal of debt to African-Americans. We’ve seen their struggle. We’ve seen their trajectory. They’ve laid the groundwork.”
“Once I realized that I needed to be an actor, I was very concerned because what I saw in television and films was not very attractive,” said Tony Plana. “For someone who’s educated, it was a little demeaning.” After studying in London, Plana recalls when he first arrived to Hollywood stating, “…I got to play gang member number one.”
Since the early 70’s Television Pioneer Norman Lear has brought us groundbreaking shows highlighting diverse cultures like “All in The Family,” “Good Times,” and “The Jeffersons,” as well as the recent Netflix Latino remake of “One Day At A Time.”
Lear closed out the event with powerful words of wisdom. “There are two very important words: Over and next,” said Lear. “Live in this moment. It’s taken every second of my life to get here…so I live in the moment.”
While Lear has served as a pioneer for inclusivity, the recent UCLA Hollywood Diversity Report found that minorities make up 13.5 percent of lead roles – a stark contrast to the country’s population made up for 40 percent minorities. The report also found that minorities accounted for the majority of ticket sales for the top five films in 2015 and that films with diverse casts grossed higher profits. Yet, minorities continue to be underrepresented.
CHCI will kick off Hispanic Heritage Month celebration in Washington, D.C. with its annual Leadership Conference on September 11-12, 2017 and culminate the celebration with its 40th Anniversary Gala on Wednesday, September 13, 2017 at the Marriott Marquis Hotel. CHCI provides leadership development programs and paid Congressional Internships and fellowships for Latino youth across the country in Washington D.C.
Members of Congress who attended:
Rep. Joaquin Castro (TX-20), & Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute Chair
Rep. Grace F. Napolitano (CA-32)
Rep. Pete Aguilar (CA-31)
Rep. Lou Correa (CA-46)
Rep. Nanette Barragan (CA-44)
Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA)
Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (TX-15)
Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40)
#CHCI #RepresentationMatters #InnovateLeadInspire
CHCI is a Hispanic nonprofit and nonpartisan 501(c)(3) leadership development that educates, empowers, and connects Latino youth by providing leadership development programs and educational services. The national organization directly impacts the lives of thousands of students and young professionals each year through its fellowships, congressional internships, scholar-intern programs, and more. The CHCI Board of Directors is comprised of Hispanic members of Congress, nonprofit, union and corporate leaders.
ABOUT NORMAN LEAR:
Norman Lear is the producer of groundbreaking television shows such as “All in the Family,” “The Jeffersons,” “Maude,” “Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman”, “One Day at a Time”, and “GoodTimes,” among many others. His memoir, “Even This I Get to Experience”, released in 2015 by Penguin Press, provides an inside look at the advent of television from one of the industry’s most transformative players. Lear is a World War II veteran, has received four Emmy awards, a Peabody, and was awarded a National Medal of Arts by President Clinton. He has founded three organizations, People for the American Way, The Business Enterprise Trust and the Environmental Media Center. Lear’s memoir has been pro led by, The New York Times, Vanity Fair, and NPR. He is married to Lyn Davis Lear, has six children and 4 grandchildren.
ABOUT REP. JOAQUIN CASTRO
Rep. Joaquin Castro represents Texas’ 20th Congressional District- San Antonio, and serves on both the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the House Foreign Affairs Committee. First elected to Congress in 2012, Castro was the 2013 co-president for the House freshman Democrats and now serves in House Democratic Leadership as Chief Deputy Whip and a member of the Democratic Steering and Policy Committee. Castro is also a founding co-chair of the Congressional Pre-K Caucus, the U.S.-Japan Caucus, and the Congressional Caucus on ASEAN. Castro is Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute. He has been called “a rising star in his party” by The Texas Tribune and one of the top 50 politicos to watch by POLITICO.