An in-depth study from Columbia University in conjunction with the Hispanic Foundation for the Arts and the National Association of Latino Independent Producers, The Latino Media Gap: A Report on the State of Latinos in U.S. Media, indicates that Latinos found much more representation in movies and on TV in the ’50s. Deadline lays out the numbers, noting that “Latinos on average made up only 2.8% of the U.S. population in the 1950s but accounted for 3.9% of lead actor roles and 1.5% of all leading roles."
According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s estimates, there are roughly 52 million Latinos in the U.S. as of July 1, 2011, or just over 16% of the current U.S. population. That number is on track to reach 132.8 million — or about 30% of the U.S. population — by July 1, 2050.
Among the racial and ethnic groups studied in the the Media, Diversity, and Social Change Initiative’s report, released August 2014, Latinos made up only 4.9% of movie characters across 100 of 2013’s top-grossing films.
(Above, from left to right, Desi Arnaz as Ricky Ricardo in the television series "I Love Lucy"; Zoë Saldaña as Nyota Uhura in the Star Trek film series.)