Minorities and women remain underrepresented in the entertainment industry in spite of having made some gains in television, threatening revenues, according to a new UCLA report.
Titled “Five Years of Progress and Missed Opportunities,” the report is the fifth in five years from the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies at UCLA, which is headed by Darnell Hunt.
“In both film and television, women and minorities remained notably underrepresented in every arena in 2016,” the report stated. “Reports in this series have repeatedly found that films and television shows with casts attuned to America’s diversity tend to register the highest global box office figures and viewer ratings. The industry appears to have finally embraced the idea that America’s increasingly diverse audiences demand film and television content populated with characters whose experiences resonate with their own, who look like them, and with whom they can relate.”
Gains were primarily confined to digital scripted shows for female leads, broadcast television for leads, and show creators of color. The report emphasized that positive trends for women and minorities in film were fewer and less prominent.
“There is still a long way to go before women or people of color reach proportionate representation among the actors in film and television, but at least the trend lines for both groups point in the right direction,” the report said.
“Unfortunately, the industry has been much slower to accept the related truth that its success in providing today’s (and tomorrow’s) audiences with what they crave also hinges on the presence of diverse talent behind the camera — in the director’s chair, in the writers’ room, and in executive suites,” it said. “The resulting missed opportunities, this report series has documented, are not good for Hollywood’s bottom line.”
The report said Hollywood decision makers tend to promote the myth that foreign audiences will automatically reject films centered around people of color — a notion that militates against the advancement of diversity, particularly for leading actors and directors. The report was written before the launch of Disney-Marvel’s “Black Panther,” which has grossed eye-popping sums — more than $700 million in less than two weeks.
The researchers behind the report found that minorities remain underrepresented in film leads (13.9 percent), film directors (12.6 percent), film writers (8.1 percent), broadcast scripted leads (18.7 percent), cable scripted leads (20.2 percent), broadcast reality and other leads (26.6 percent) and leads for cable reality and other leads (20.9 percent).
Women posted gains in all the key employment arenas since the previous report, with the exception of four — film directors, broadcast scripted show leads, cable scripted show creators, and broadcast scripted show creators. They are underrepresented among film leads (31.2 percent), film directors (6.9 percent), film writers (13.8 percent), broadcast scripted leads (35.7 percent), cable scripted leads (44.8 percent) and broadcast reality and other leads (18.8 percent).
—City News Service
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