The second annual Hollywood Diversity Report, commissioned by UCLA’s Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies, has been released and reveals that diversity in the entertainment industry is well behind the demographics, according to its author.
This year’s study blames industry diversity issues on agencies, guilds, studios, and networks, stating problems stem from “an industry culture that routinely devalues the talent of minorities and women.”
Darnell Hunt, lead author of the report, and the center’s director, spoke to the Hollywood Reporter about the findings, which he says reveal minorities are underrepresented in film and television.
“Hollywood is not progressing at the same rate as America is diversifying,” he told THR.
Hunt’s study has found that in film, minorities are underrepresented more than 2-to-1 on screen, 8-to-1 behind the lights, 6-to-1 in lead roles on scripted TV broadcast shows, and nearly 2-to-1 as leads on cable (those numbers are relative to minority share of the U.S. population).
Additionally, women were underrepresented about 2-to-1 as broadcast and cable creators, and their use as series leads are below 50 percent.
For the first time, this year’s study surveyed diversity among executives of TV networks and studios and found that 96 percent were white, and 71 percent were male, while major and mini-major film studio bosses were 94 percent white and 100 percent male, THR reports.
Stacey Snider’s move to 20th Century Fox and Amy Pascal’s exit from co-chair at Sony Pictures were not included in the report.
It’s a high-risk industry. People want to surround themselves with collaborators they’re comfortable with, which tends to mean people they’ve networked with — and nine times out of 10, they’ll look similar. It reproduces the same opportunities for the same kind of people: You’re surrounding yourself with a bunch of white men to feel comfortable.
He added that the entertainment industry would not change until hiring practices do.
“It’s not like there’s this general trend upward, this wave everything is riding. It’s very precarious,” says Hunt. “It’s getting better, but it’s not getting better fast enough. And it’s still a big problem,” he said.
The study also claims viewers want more diversity, finding broadcast scripted shows with casts that are 41 percent to 50 percent more diverse, score the highest ratings in black and white households; while on cable, white and Latino viewers preferred casts with 31 percent to 40 percent diversity.
In addition, black households preferred cable shows with more than 50 percent diversity, per THR.
The study was financed by several major studios and networks, including the Walt Disney Co. and Time Warner, and comes on the heels of an awards season that was heavily criticized for being mostly white.