June 18, 2021

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LatinXcellence: 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 previously closed doors to Latinx talent. In some cases, they even make sure that open doors do not close.

Take, for example, a project from years ago. While searching for someone to play a Mexican-American patriarch, some executives decided to start auditioning white men for the role because they had yet to find a Latin American actor they thought they were. a good candidate for the role.

The opportunities to be a main character in a television series don’t often present themselves for Latinx actors and seeing one slip through the cracks was “hard to see,” Luna said. He and several others – Latinx allies among them – decided not to be silent witnesses.

“[We] came together to tell the network, “We don’t think this is right. We think this is not doing the community a favor, ”he said. This included people from different departments, including producers and a casting director within the network.

The network recovered after a few days and quickly “found two guys they liked,” Luna recalls. This isn’t always how these stories end, but Luna was glad this one ended.

Before Luna became a full-time casting director, he learned the ropes of the Hollywood trade by developing unscripted TV shows from scratch. It was there that the Los Angeles native learned how his work can directly impact the images people see on screen. In this, he knew, there was an opportunity to turn things around for the better.

“As the son of immigrants, it means a lot because you don’t really grow up thinking it’s achievable, and you don’t really grow up thinking that’s exactly what you’re capable of,” he said. he declared. “Being able to see this in the first year of my career immediately made me feel, ‘Holy shit, me – this first generation Latino kid from LA – can really make a difference in our industry. ”

One of the ways he can do this is through a change he would like to see under the umbrella of Latinx himself.

“When you look at the numbers of our representation on screen, in the United States and Latin America, most of the people who land in leading roles are passing Latinos – Latinos of European descent, not necessarily Latinxes who are Afro-latinx or of indigenous origin. And I feel like it’s a problem – a big, big, big problem, “he said. “The fact that my mom doesn’t see as many prominent women as on her screen is a problem for me as she is the leading woman in her movie.”

And, you might say, Luna is in the star in hers – and that is a game changer.

Alan Luna, casting director for television, film and animation, said he saw early in his career that he could make changes in entertainment.  & quot;  Holy shit, me - this first generation Latino kid from LA - can really make a difference in our industry.  & quot;

Questions and answers

Last name: Alain Moon

Employment: Casting Director at AM Casting, an office that I and longtime casting director Michelle Adams founded together last year. We are one of the only casting offices in the United States with two people of color as owners and partners. “

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

Years in Entertainment: 11

Mentor: “Officially 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. both see me as equals, I see them as a standard and a quality that I would always like to maintain. ”

Latin … from dónde ?: “First generation Mexican-American, raised in the Westside of Los Angeles.”

Latinx trope that I would banish forever: “There are too many stories about immigration, cartel members, cholos or our help. These are not the four things we are in life. And if it has to be one of them. these things, don’t make traumatic porn out of them. Make them art. ”

Latinx actor / actress, I think he will one day be a big star: Melinna Bobadilla

Latinx Show Wish everyone was watching / had watched: “‘The baker and the beauty’, ‘One day at a time’ and ‘Vida.’ I also really want everyone to watch 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 people can see that there is monetary value in our stories. ”

Overused line that performers say when transmitting a Latinx project: “America is not really ready for this type of show” or “This show is TOO Latin. And on the casting side, it’s very easy for a production to turn a character into a white character rather than turning a white character into a black, Latin, or Asian character. I think there is a problem there. If a casting is for “open ethnicity,” we should prioritize artists from historically under-represented communities.

What I think all casting directors could do to help increase the representation of Latinx: 1) Hire assistants of color and pay them well so that we create a path for them to someday become casting directors or executives – these are two completely different things that create impact in various ways. Even people in other fields should hire assistants of color, as they could be the department heads of the future and create more representation behind the scenes. We should also normalize a work culture in which we treat assistants for coffees, lunches, dinners, drinks, etc. whenever we can, as these things add up for them much faster than they do for them. we. 2) Be aware of colorism and don’t be afraid to have difficult conversations. It is important for our industry to understand why there has been a strong call for greater and appropriate representation and to describe what our communities really look like over the past year and beyond. It’s okay to admit that our industry was wrong, let’s learn from the mistakes of previous generations and turn that into knowledge for the next generation of filmmakers, actors and executives. 3) Don’t be afraid to take on smaller projects from people of color that you wouldn’t normally have – an indie or student film or a micro-budget. Your work can enhance theirs and help them get representation or funding for their next project or help them sell the project. To be honest, a lot of these projects don’t pay a whole lot, but I balance my free time to make sure I invest in these emerging filmmakers and they can then pay it off at the end of the day.

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