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John Leguizamo's plan to increase Latinx presence in entertainment

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Actor John Leguizamo has appeared in movies as diverse as Romeo + Juliet, Collateral Damage, and even the iconic plumber Luigi from Super Mario Bros. But even he can’t break through Hollywood’s glass ceiling.

“It’s made of plexiglass, it’s bulletproof and you can’t walk through it,” Leguizamo said in an interview.

Over the years, studio executives have refused to pitch his story, telling Leguizamo, who is of Colombian descent, that Latinos clearly don’t want to see “feel good movies.”

“I think it’s going to be very difficult for them to give us the right space until executives start showing up who look just like us, like brown Latinos,” he added.

To solve this problem, he started his New York-based digital media company, NGL Collective, an LA-based digital media company that creates stories and videos aimed at Latino audiences. About to merge with mitú, a GoDigital Media Group. Mitú also operates his 14,000-square-foot studio on his Eastside in LA.

GoDigital’s acquisition of NGL is worth more than $60 million and will create what the companies call “the largest digital-first Latino media powerhouse” in the United States. Latin.

Leguizamo launched NGL Collective in 2012 with entrepreneur and co-founder David Chitel. This company creates content aimed at the NGL (New Generation Latino) audience. We work with influencers to create unscripted TV shows and documentaries, stories on topics like fashion, parenting, recipes, and videos that help promote brands like Amtrak and Lexus.

“David and I have always tried to pioneer Latin content and create a space for Latin content. You get the chance to have media that includes Latin people who are excluded in all media,” Leguizamo said. “We want things to change.”

Merging with mitú will increase the size of the NGL Collective and help it attract more advertisers and content for Latinx audiences, NGL executives said.

Chitel, chief executive of NGL Collective, said in an interview:

According to the U.S. Census, Latinos make up about 19% of the U.S. population and have accounted for most of the country’s population growth over the past decade. This group is also a big consumer of entertainment, spending 34% of his time streaming videos, compared to 25% of his time spent doing that activity, according to Nielsen data. .

This growth is the main reason companies like NGL are attractive to buyers.

GoDigital Media Group Chairman and CEO Jason Peterson said in a statement: “This acquisition solidifies our foothold in the US Latino media space.”

Maribel Lopez, founder and principal analyst at Lopez Research, said the partnership between the two companies made sense, saying that by paying more for advertising, businesses could produce more content and reach more viewers. I added that I will be able to reach.

“Anyone who is serious about having a presence in the new media world should have a broader portfolio of not just Latino content, but Latino content,” Lopez said. .

But Hollywood remains mostly white and male, on screen and in roles. According to 2020 UCLA’s Hollywood Diversity Report, Latinos accounted for just 6.3% of scripted TV show roles that aired in the 2019-2020 season and a small percentage of 1,300 popular movie roles in 2019. 4.9%.

Leguizamo said, “It’s hard for old Hollywood and streamers to give up power and give up the space they’ve had for so long.” 30% of streamers and 30% of Hollywood executives.”

Leguizamo, who won a Tony for his solo exhibition Latin History for Morons, hopes the deal will create a company that can provide more opportunities for Latinx creators.

He noted that Latino consumers make up about 30% of Thor: Love and Thunder’s box office receipts. It’s crazy,” said Leguizamo.

“It’s kind of like the cultural apartheid we live in, with such a prevailing culture in most of the big cities, yet we are virtually invisible, but online and alive.” We create content,” said Leguizamo. “All these young kids are creating great, funny and powerful content, and we want to spread it more and welcome more of that kind of content.”