Colombian singer and musician Shakira will join a select group when she gets a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame today, in more ways than one. She'll be one of just 77 Latino performers to have a star by the end of 2011, according to a recent CNN analysis.
Despite the fact that Latinos make up 16% of the U.S.population, they make up 3.4% of the 2,354 stars on the walk. Other minorities don’t fare much better: 5.1% of the stars belong to African Americans, compared to their 16% of the population, and less than 1% of the stars - 0.4% - commemorate Asian Americans, who make up 5% of the United State's population.
CNN’s analysis did identify an upward trend, as Latinos, African-Americans and Asians shares of honorees have increased each decade since the 1980s.
The walk is just a tourist attraction, but it reflects some of Hollywood's notorious problems, advocacy groups and performers said: Roles that just stereotype minorities, if they exist at all.
Some groups, like media consumer group Racebending.com, are trying to draw attention to what they say is the "whitewashing" of roles in Hollywood, which result in fewer opportunities for actors of color. One of their most prominent campaigns urged people to boycott the 2010 movie "Avatar: The Last Airbender," a live-action version of an animated series based in an Asian-influenced fantasy world. The original main characters in the animated series were Asian or Inuit, but the 2010 film cast white actors for three of the four primary roles.
There are 10 stars honoring actors of Asian descent, including Pat Morita, Anna May Wong and Bruce Lee. The most recent inductee was actor-director-producer Jackie Chan, in 2002.
Leron Gubler, president and chief executive of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, which sponsors the Walk of Fame and operates the committee that selects honorees, said they’ve long tried to encourage nominations of minorities.
"Since day one we have encouraged minorities to apply," Gubler said about the Walk, which opened in 1961. "When the Walk of Fame was created some of the first stars included Anna May Wong, Dolores Del Rio, Cantinflas, Hattie McDaniel and many others. The committee does try to ensure that minorities are represented in the selections, but there is no set mandatory ratio."