Hollywood's Diversity Problem: Breaking Down the Casting Process
Diversity in Hollywood Is Not a Problem, It's a Crisis
The lack of diversity in this year's Oscar nominations produced a much-needed dialogue about racial and gender inclusion in the film industry, with some of the biggest names in the film industry noting that the problem isn't just the Oscars—it's with Hollywood for not creating enough equal opportunities for people of color, women, and members of the LGBTQ community. Now, a new study by the University of Southern California is breaking down the problem by the numbers—and the findings are truly unsettling.
Women comprise just 28.7% of speaking roles in films, 15.2% of directors and 28.9% of writers. Within the companies evaluated, 20% of corporate boards, chief executives, and management teams were women. Unsurprisingly, female characters are more often physically attractive or dressed in sexy attire.
Actors and actresses from racial and ethnic groups only made up 28.3% of speaking roles. That's lower than the actual ratio of the ethnic population in the U.S., which is 37.9%. More than half (52%) of media in film, TV and streaming services don't even have Asian characters. Out of 407 directors, only 13% were from underrepresented groups, and out of those 53 people, only 2 were black women.
Of 414 movies and shows, only 2% of characters were coded LGB, and a mere 7 were transgender.
"This is no mere diversity problem. This is an inclusion crisis," said Stacy L. Smith, an author of the study. "It is clear that the ecosystem of entertainment is exclusionary." Smith worked through the Annenberg School of Communications and Journalism at USC to develop a comprehensive report on the diversity in all levels of the industry, from film to streaming and from actors and directors to company executives.
The research looked closely at 109 films by major studios, and 305 TV and digital series across 31 networks and streaming services in 2014. Some of the subjects were movies like Gone Girl, Guardians of the Galaxy and 22 Jump Street; and companies from 21st Century Fox to NBC Universal to Netflix.
So what happens next? Along with pointing out problems, authors of the study also suggested solutions for changing the diversity landscape in film and TV and it goes beyond just "making a 'diversity hire.'" Being more transparent with the public, eliminating stereotypical roles, building inclusive consideration lists and monitoring progress were just a few examples of solutions.
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