The Fox network is betting on loyal Latino viewer by casting Latino as leads in their new series ‘Gang Related’
In Fox’s new series “Gang Related,” set in Los Angeles and centers on a special task force — led by Sam Chapel (Terry O’ Quinn) dedicated to fighting the escalating violence among L.A.’s various gangs.
Chris Morgan is the show’s creator and executive producer is non-other than the screenwriter behind four of the ‘Fast & Furious‘ sequals which is a strong indication on how serious Fox network is about this show.
Fast and Furious movies have grossed over 600 MILLION and about 56% of that came from Latinos.
For example, the latest entry, “Fast & Furious 6,” roared to over $120 million over the past five days and has been the driving force behind the biggest Memorial Day weekend ever at the domestic box office. Latinos made up 32 percent of its audience, as they did for the previous entry in Universal’s muscle car franchise “Fast Five,” and this film is now on track to pass that one as the highest-grossing in the series.
With stars like Michelle Rodriguez, and a healthy amount of Spanish dialog, Universal went out of its way to court them for Fast & Furious which is what Fox is now doing with this show.
In its marketing for Fast & Furious, the studio made a point of emphasizing elements that set it apart from summer blockbusters headlined by white males, namely a cast that included Asian, African-American and Latino actors like Rodriguez, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, and Sung Kang.
“We’re the Benetton of casting,” Jeffrey Kirschenbaum, Universal Pictures co-president of production, told TheWrap.com prior to the film’s opening.
The result is a cast that looks like many of today’s moviegoers — social media savvy, ethnic and frequently bilingual.
This a growing reality for Hollywood. Latinos represent just 17 percent of the U.S. population, yet accounted for 26 percent of domestic ticket sales in 2012, according a study by the Motion Picture Association of America and Fox is very well aware of this and taking full advantage.
In Gang Related, the lead actor, Ramon Rodriguez plays Ryan Lopez, a loyal member of his family’s gang Los Angelicos – one of the most prominent in the city – who is sent to join the LAPD to rise through the ranks and become an informant. But as he starts to lead this double life and create an unexpected bond with his police family, his two worlds collide and he is left with a life-changing decision to make.
But doesn’t a show called ‘Gang Related’ with Latino actors just feed right into stereotypes?
“Gang Related boasts one of the most diverse casts on television, actors who realistically reflect the variety of ethnicities that make up this L.A. world.” said the show’s executive producer, Rosenbaum, “the same is true of the writing staff.”
“We have three African-American writers. We have three Latino writers,” he said. “Like a soup, we put together this really interesting, unique writing staff.
… We wanted the actors, when they read the pages, to not feel like they were just being written by, you know, someone who didn’t have any sense or understanding of the world.”
Jay Hernandez, who plays Acosta’s brainier son and Ryan’s best friend since childhood, said he usually avoids gang roles that perpetuate “negative stereotypes about Hispanics and Mexicans.”
“The difference here was that it was a layered story, and it wasn’t about gangs. It’s about family,” he said. “It’s about humanity, and it’s about showing that it’s not a black-and-white world. There’s a gray area that we all live in. And, you know, as much as Javier Acosta is a gangster, he’s also, you know, if you flip that coin, that guy is like a CEO of a corporation.”
What do you think about networks like Fox finally taking notice of the value of Latino audience and including Latinos in an overall creation of their shows?
You can catch ‘Gang Related’ every Thursday night 9/8c on FOX.