After getting called out for years for its lack of diversity, Hollywood has implemented measures in an effort to become more inclusive, pledging its commitment to a more equitable landscape.
Yet despite those initiatives, there is still room for significant growth, as people of color remain underrepresented.
Diversity in Hollywood is “better in some ways and worse in others,” actor Alfonso Ribeiro, star of "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" and host of "America's Funniest Home Videos," told Yahoo Finance when discussing how the industry has evolved over the years.
“If you could go back to the '80s and '90s, there were actually more African American TV shows on network television,” said Ribeiro. “Now, there are fewer full African-American casts working today and most of them are on cable networks, not on network television, so we've gone backwards in that way. But you also have people like The Rock, Kevin Hart, Will Smith that are at the top of the chain when it comes to making movies and being big blockbuster stars.”
But it’s not just about diversifying leading roles in front of the camera. Hollywood’s path towards a more inclusive community includes diverse representation behind the scenes as well.
“We need more directors, we need more writers, we need showrunners, producers,” added Riberio. “And it's not just about whether it's African Americans, we are talking about Asian Americans and Latino Americans. Getting more women in the business. It's about making sure that everyone has an opportunity to share their talents in many different ways.”
According to UCLA’s most recent Hollywood Diversity report, women and people of color remain underrepresented in nearly every category. In its film portion, the study found that 91% of studio chairman and CEOs are white and 82% are male, while 86% of executives in charge of casting are white. For those in front of the camera, people of color accounted for just 27.6% of the lead roles in top films.
The TV-focused portion of the study also shows a significant need for improvement. Ninety-two percent of C-suite TV executives and 89% of show creators are white.
Lack of diversity costs Hollywood $10 billion a year
A more diverse Hollywood benefits the bottom line.
A report from McKinsey earlier this year found that the industry is losing $10 billion a year by ignoring racial inequality, and that it will continue to leave money on the table if it fails to address the issue.
The report highlighted the racial complexities and challenges of the industry’s ecosystem. For example, the study found that Black actors have significantly fewer chances to land leading roles early in their careers, and production budgets for films with either a Black lead or co-lead are on average 24% lower than other films.
“In the same way that collective action is needed to advance racial equity in corporate America, real and lasting change in film and TV will require concerted action and the joint commitment of stakeholders across the industry ecosystem,” wrote the study’s authors.
“We got a long way to go, but as long as we keep moving forward, we're making progress,” added Ribeiro.
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