Breaking Stereotypes or Stereotypical Breakdowns?: Analyzing Television Casting Breakdowns for Latina Characters
This study examines casting Breakdowns (character descriptions used by actors, agents, and casting directors) as a central factor influencing Latina representation on scripted television shows. Through a textual analysis of the Breakdowns for the January 2017–August 2017 casting season, this study analyzed the Breakdowns of 3,714 characters in 269 SAG-AFTRA television shows across 21 broadcast, cable, and streaming networks. The research demonstrates intersectional discrimination of Latina actors in television. While the Breakdowns’ specification of race/ethnicity for characters would allow Latinas to be cast in 63.6% of female roles, in practice they are cast in 6.4% of female roles and 2.9% of all roles. Additional textual analysis of the Breakdowns’ descriptive language highlights ongoing Latina stereotyping in television depictions. This study furthers media representation research by exposing the Breakdown text as a fundamental element contributing to and maintaining stereotypical portrayals and discriminatory casting in television.