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In the 2015-2016 TV season, just five to six percent of all on-air roles went to Latinx people, according to a 2018 report on diversity in Hollywood.
Gloria Calderon Kellett is tackling that statistic head-on. She’s a showrunner of the reboot of the 1970s sitcom classic “One Day at a Time” — but her version looks and sounds quite different from the original. It follows a Cuban-American family living in L.A. as they navigate issues like mental illness, immigration and homophobia, all within the framework of a comedy.
Calderon Kellett is a first-generation American, the daughter of Cuban parents who came to the U.S. in the 1960s. She told Variety about the impact of seeing predominantly white families on TV growing up:
I grew up having to see myself through the framework of a white family. You can see that because there is a universality to being a human person. The stories are different but you can see yourself in characters, so I saw myself through the Keatons. I saw myself through the [Huxtables]. I think that they are still not understanding because maybe the people at the top there, are not people of color. They don’t see that it’s important to have narrative, like “Fresh Off the Boat” on TV. The only Asian family in 20 years to be on television.
It seems Calderon Kellett has added another beloved TV family to the list. The show has received almost universal praise across two seasons.
Norman Lear of The L.A. Times called the reboot “lively without being rushed,” and Verne Gay of Newsday praised it for being “congenial, good-hearted, easy going, sentimental, old-fashioned and surprisingly new-fashioned. There’s also a deep emotional core here which refuses to be devalued by the typical (or tired) beat of a multicamera sitcom.”
But Calderon Kellett talks about the pressure of championing Latinx representation within an industry that’s still whitewashed. In the same interview from Variety, she said she “[feels] like with network TV for example, maybe there’s one Latinx show a year and then if it doesn’t kill, they’re like, ‘Well, we tried that Latinx thing.’ They don’t talk about the 20 white shows that didn’t make it. There’s all this pressure on that one Latinx show to be amazing or else: ‘Well, we tried that last year.’”
We’ll talk with Calderon Kellett about “One Day at a Time,” and the changing landscape of the industry.
Show produced by Paige Osburn. Text by Kathryn Fink.
- Gloria Calderon Kellett Showrunner, "One Day at a Time"
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