Thursday, April 27, 2006

A Film Executive Is More Likely to Try to Tell Me How to Be Latina

Lusty Lady Rachel Kramer Bussel ( recently interviewed me for the Gothamist. One of the many intriguing questions she asked me was, "Has the publishing world been more open to Latina writing than the film world is to Latina actresses/producers/writers or are there just more opportunities to publish books than to get a film out into the world?"
My answer:
My book was one of three mainstream novels written by and about Latinas that hit bookshelves in March 2006, all published by major houses. When’s the last time you saw that happen in the film industry? Or even on television? Yes, it may be more expensive and therefore risky to produce a film, and many less films are produced in a year than books published, but I think even if you account for the uniqueness of each industry, the publishing world is more proactive about pursuing Latinos readers than the film industry is about reaching Latino moviegoers. And my experience with both has been that the publishing industry is more willing to let Latinos tell their own stories. If you look at the few films released in the past few years set in Latino communities, you’ll find two things. One, they’re independents. Two, the directors are White and usually male. When a Latina filmmaker wants to make a movie like Girlfight, Raising Victor Vargas or Maria Full of Grace, she faces more skepticism about the universality of the story and its commercial viability. I’ve found that a film executive is more likely to try and tell me how to be Latina than a book editor. I have yet met a Latina writer who told me that her editor complained, “You have to put a White girl in your story.”
Yeah, I went there. I had to. To read where else I went, check out the entire Gothamist interview at
And if you've had an interesting experiences attempting to get your book published or film produced, do share!

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