Hollywood Films Continue to Fail in On-Screen Diversity: Report

Hollywood photoThe numbers prove that inclusion isn’t a priority

By Frank Kineavy

The Annenberg Inclusion Initiative at the University of Southern California recently reported that there has been little to no improvement in diversity on the big screen over the last decade.

“There is a cacophony of voices crying out for change, but Hollywood hasn’t changed its hiring practices,” Stacy Smith, author of the report, said in an interview. “We’re seeing very stable trends and very little movement in storytelling.”

Smith urges prominent actors to adopt her concept of “Inclusion Rider.” The idea is to require clauses in their contracts to ensure productions meet a certain level of diversity.

The report examined the under representation of women, people of color, LGBT actors and people with disabilities, both on screen and behind the camera. Women of color were largely excluded from leading roles in 2017 films, and men occupied more than twice as many roles as women.

Latinos make up nearly a fifth of the U.S., but are only 6.2 percent of characters in films, and 64 of the top 100 movies doesn’t even have at least one Latino character. Less than 1 percent of characters identify as LGBT, whereas this population is at 5 percent and growing.

People with disabilities make up 19 percent of the population, but only reflected 2 percent of characters last year.

When it comes to the director’s chair, the numbers are even grimmer. Over the past 11 years, there were 1,223 directors, and only 4.3 percent were women, 5.2 percent Black and 3.1 percent were Asian.

While the numbers are not encouraging, Smith said, “I really think change is on the horizon…this has been an explosive time of disruption.”

She also noted that television has done a better job of increasing diversity, “Film is really being left behind in many respects,” Smith said. “I think it’s a reckoning that these executives need to have.”

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