"I think in every aspect…across the board people of color are always going to have to work twice as hard to get twice as much," said Jason Nieves, a Latino writer based in Los Angeles.
A Brooklyn-bred comedian and satirist, Nieves knows first-hand the difficulties of breaking into Hollywood writing rooms.
says, means one chair out of 10 goes to a person of color or a woman.
"That's not diversity.
That's humanity," he
Nieves' observations are rooted in the realities of the data: As of 2007, Latinos made up an estimated 2 percent of television writers despite Latinos accounting for nearly 16 percent of the U.S. population, and that gap appears to be widening.
Surrounding the argument is the perception of Latinos, not just in Hollywood but the perception and the broadcasted 'reality' of Latinos as nothing more than servants, criminals or uneducated.
More than that, Nieves
says, is the idea that Hollywood believes Latinos can only write Latino-themed work.
"I think the reason they think that is because they don't have to live in our world," he
"If you're a Latino in America, you basically have your Latino side, and you have your American side.
If you're a white American guy, you only have a white American side."
says people of color should be valued differently.
Instead of 50 percent of a writer, he
argues it should be 200 percent - 100 percent humanity plus 100 percent or their diverse background.
The "irony" of that progress, Nieves
said, is that while the roles are improving, Latinos aren't entrusted to write for other Latinos, let alone their costars.
Because of this, the writing can be a "little one note," he
"While I am happy to see more Latinos in front of the camera, it's (ironic) that we can be on a show, but we're not good enough to write for the people on that show."
recounted a story describing this irony.
Once during staffing season, he
went on a show with five 'people of color' who were part of the main cast and two regulars.
Even with seven people of color - something he
called "pretty impressive" - Nieves
said that the writing room had one writer of color.
From the writer's perspective, Nieves
is equally as adamant that this is a business first, and that if the story is not relatable or marketable, it doesn't matter how personally attached he
might get to it.
"If you want to write for the sake of writing, God bless you," he
"I do that, too.
But what I do is I try to make the idea that I want and put it into commercial form.
I am not selling out or watering down.
I am finding a way to make it relatable to everyone and also at the same time, understand that what I am writing is to be sold."
Such was the case when Nieves
launched "Latino 101," a pop-culture comedy show that he
The program, which runs on NuvoTV, creatively explores the Latino culture through comedy.
In this case, Nieves
own opportunity where there might not have been one.
is a beneficiary of the advocacy of groups like the National Media Hispanic Coalition
Since 1986, the group has worked to both speak out on behalf of Latino talent but also to provide opportunities for it.
, for example, was part of their competitive writing program, which opened doors for him at major networks.
The numbers suggest one reality, but Nieves
, Chavez and Rodriguez share the common vision that diversity needs to improve, but that this is not 1999, and another "BROWNOUT" isn't imminent.