Creative Close-Up: Diversity in Hollywood, What Can Be Done?

January 25 / 16

The award season has already arrived. Golden Globes, People’s Choice awards, etc, etc. We all saw the Academy Award nominees announced a few weeks ago. This has created a shake up. I’m on my Twitter account and the hastag: #OscarsSoWhite is right there in plain sight. Yep, the nominees are all white. No African, Hispanic, or any other minority represented on that list.

Jada Pinkett Smith is boycotting the Oscars, so is Spike Lee, but let’s be honest, will that solve the problem? No. For a long time, diversity in Hollywood has been an issue and it will continue to be an issue unless we as a whole do something about it. What I’m saying is stop complaining, stop moaning, and griping about it. If Jada, Spike and the rest of us don’t like it, then we need to do something about it. Of course it hasn’t been easy. Even though it’s 2015, minorities (not only African, but Hispanic, Asian, Native American…..) and women still have a way to go.

I’m in the middle of reading this report by the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American at UCLA titled 2015 Hollywood Diversity Report: Flipping the Script. As it states in its executive summary, it examines relationships between diversity and the bottom line in the Hollywood entertainment industry. They have collected an interesting analysis from the top 200 film releases, broadcasts, cable, digital platform television programs during 2012 and 2013. Take a look at this:

Minorities: Although minorities posted a small to modest gains in several Hollywood employment arenas since the last report, they remain underrepresented on every front:

  • Greater than 2 to 1 among film leads
  • 2 to 1 among film directors
  • 3 to 1 among film writers
  • Nearly 6 to 1 among broadcast scripted leads
  • Nearly 2 to 1 among cable scripted leads
  • Greater than 2 to 1 among leads for both broadcast and cable reality and other shows
  • Nearly 2 to 1 among digital and syndicated platform leads
  • Greater than 6 to 1 among the creators of broadcast scripted shows
  • Greater than 3 to 1 among the creators of cable scripted shows
  • Greater than 7 to 1 among the creators of digital platform and syndicated shows

Disappointing to say the least. Women are also underrepresented as well, even though they a few small gains in Hollywood employment. It’s frustrating, but there it is. An article from Fortune, This Study Totally Nails Hollywood’s Diversity Problem by Erik Sherman has this to say:

But a new study suggests that if Hollywood wants to improve the representation of minorities and women on screen, they better tackle who is hired behind the camera— the writers, producers and directors.

It further reads that television writer Lyle Friedman, data journalist Ilia Blinderman, and co-founder of visual pop culture site, Polygraph, did a study of 4,000 films from 1995 to 2015 through the Bechdel Test. You can read the rest of the article here. Now the Academy is making some changes. Don Cheadle, who was at Sundance Film Festival showcasing Miles Ahead, his biopic film on Miles Davis said this: “I applaud [The Academy’s] attempt to do something about it, which is great, but again,” he said, “this is dealing with the symptom and not starting at the root cause, how we even get to results like this.” I totally agree on this. Yeah, it’s nice the Academy is making changes, but it’s still doesn’t solve the problem. What can be done? Well plenty can be done. As the Ralph J. Bunche 2015 Hollywood Report said, there is no magic bullet for Hollywood’s race and gender problem, nor is there a magic potion to erase racism. It’s going to take a lot of hard work, innovation from actors, directors, writers, all across the board. We as an audience have the power too. We’re the ones paying the too high movie tickets, watching the next great tv sitcom, drama, or comedy. Of course changes will take time, persistence, and patience.

As I’ve stated, instead of griping and complaining, we all need to take a look at the situation and do something about it.


Here is a skit from Saturday Night Live’s take on the issue…………

Read the Academy Takes Historic Action To Increase Diversity











photo cred: