Professor Mary Beltrán writes and teaches on Latina and Latinx representation and media authorship; diversity, inclusion, and the U.S. television and film industries; mixed race and media culture; and U.S. television history. Her research, driven by questions regarding representation, social hierarchies, and cultural citizenship in narrative television and film, is located at the junctures of television and film studies, Latina/o and critical race studies, and gender studies.
Dr. Beltrán’s scholarship has explored such topics as the evolution of Latina/o film and television production and stardom since the 1920s, the implications of the media industries’ utilization of mixed-race actors and characters since the 1990s, and strategies on the part of television networks and streaming outlets to appeal to more diverse audiences.
Dr. Beltrán’s most recent book is Latino TV: A History(NYU Press, 2022). Latino TV provides a pioneering exploration of key moments in the evolution of Latina and Latino narratives and authorship in U.S. English-language television, with a focus on Latina/o writers and creators in recent decades. In a study that spans series from The Cisco Kid (1950-1956) to Vida (2018-2020) and combines archival research, interviews with creative professionals who worked on or performed in these series, textual analysis, and discourse analysis of news media coverage, she illuminates how television has been central to both the marginalization and the growth of Latina/o cultural citizenship in the United States, as well as how Latina/o creatives are beginning to impact these dynamics.
Dr. Beltrán previously publishedLatina/o Stars in U.S. Eyes: The Making and Meaning of Film and TV Stardom(University of Illinois Press, 2009), and co-edited with Camilla Fojas the anthology Mixed Race Hollywood (NYU Press, 2008). She also is the author of journal articles and book chapters in a variety of venues; some of her recent publications include “Fast and Bilingual: The Fast Franchise’s Lucrative Embodiment of U.S. Borderlands,” “Hip Hop Hearts Ballet: Utopic Multiculturalism and its Limits in the Step Up Dance Films,” and the forthcoming “Action Latinas in an Era of Precarity.”
Dr. Beltrán was the founding director of the Moody College of Communication’s former Latino Media Arts & Studies program, from 2017-2020, and currently serves as the faculty advisor to the college’s Latino Media Arts & Studies undergraduate minor. She is a core teaching faculty member of the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies and an active faculty affiliate of the Department of Mexican American and Latina/o Studies, both in UT’s College of Liberal Arts.