As we get closer to the all-White Oscars, a new report is calling out Hollywood’s “color problem.”
The Comprehensive Annenberg Report on Diversity in Entertainment comes out of the University of Southern California and displays concrete evidence about the lack of diversity in Hollywood.
The organization’s report reveals Hollywood’s diversity problem is at “epidemic” levels and characterizes the lack of color in the industry as an “inclusion crisis.”
According to the report, “The analysis found that only 28.3% of all speaking characters across 414 films, television and digital episodes in 2014-15 were from underrepresented racial/ethnic groups. This is 9.6% below the U.S. population norm of 37.9%. One-third (33.5%) of speaking characters were female. Behind the camera, a mere 15.2% of all directors and 28.9% of writers across film and every episode of television and digital series were female. Less than one-quarter (22.6%) of series creators were women across broadcast, cable and streaming content.”
On Tuesday’s edition of NewsOne Now, Roland Martin; NPR TV Critic, Eric Deggans; Associate Editor at The Root, Danielle Belton; and Managing Editor at BroadwayBlack.com, April Reign discussed the abysmal diversity numbers in Hollywood.
Deggans, one of the few African-American TV critics in the industry, told Martin, “There is a focus in these projects and these films and TV shows on subjects and environments that feature White people, especially White males.”
“That’s a severe problem and it’s a chain reaction,” said Deggans. “When you have all these films and TV shows that focus on these White environments, then of course you’re not going to create the kind of roles that can be nominated for Emmys or nominated for Oscars, and that’s the canary in the coal mine,” he said.
Martin pointed out the fundamental problem with advancement in the entertainment industry when he said, “You can’t become a show-runner on television, typically, unless you’ve been in the writing room.”
He added, “If you don’t get the opportunity to be a writer on a show, you don’t get to do so.”
NewsOne Now panelist Danielle Belton explained, “White men are taking care of themselves in this situation.” She continued, “Majority of the people who run things in Hollywood happen to be White and male, so they hire other White males for these other roles, they hire White directors, they hire White producers.”
Belton expounded upon her statement: “The fact that men were over-represented in just speaking roles and who is actually on-screen and gets screen-time shows that people are just hiring themselves.”
April Reign believes inclusion and diversification in Hollywood “begins on the page.”
“It has to start with scriptwriters and screenwriters, and if they’re not able to tell their stories from lack of opportunity, and definitely not from lack of talent, then it just rolls down hill,” Reign said.
She continued, “Even the Annenberg study shows us that when you have people in positions of power, directors and producers behind the camera, they are bringing other people along and there’s a significant increase in the number of people of color involved in film if the show-runners, if the directors, are also people of color.”
Watch Roland Martin and the NewsOne Now panel discuss the Comprehensive Annenberg Report on Diversity in Entertainment in the video clip above.
Visit USC Annenberg for the full analysis of Hollywood’s diversity crisis.
Subscribe to the “NewsOne Now” Audio Podcast on iTunes.