A new study released earlier today, just in time for Oscars week, shed a light on how deep the “epidemic of invisibility” runs within the Hollywood landscape for women, minorities, and the LGBT community.  If you have been following any form of news over the past few months, I am certain that you are already aware of the ongoing discussion surrounding the lack of inclusion within the walls of Hollywood; however, this new study truly shows us the horrifying and depressing truth of Hollywood when it comes to diversity and the lack of inclusion.

The Media, Diversity and Social Change Initiative at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism examined 10 major media companies and measured the inclusion of minorities, women, and LGBT representation – Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, Walt Disney Co., 21st Century Fox, Sony, NBC Universal, CBS, Time Warner and Viacom.  All six major studios fell below a 20% overall grade. Time Warner earned a 0%.  Disney, Amazon, Hulu and the CW all received at least a 65%.

The Annenberg Report on Diversity  examined 109 films that were released by studios in 2014 in addition to the 305 scripted television and digital series across 31 networks and streaming websites.  This included over 11,000 speaking characters, 10,000 directors, writers, and show-runners, as well as 1,500 executives. They then examined the gender, racial, and ethnic representation, and LGBT status of those involved.

A summary of the findings are listed below, and the full report can be read HERE

– 87% of directors are white

– Broadcast TV directors comprised the least diverse group at 90.4% white

– 50% of the content watched didn’t feature one Asian or Asian-American character

– 20% didn’t have a single black character

– 2% of speaking characters recognized as LGBT. 

– Only 7 characters were Transgender. 4 of these were from the same show. 

– 1/3 of speaking characters were female

– Only 28.3% of speaking characters were from a minority group. This is 10% less than the make-up of the US population.

– Only 3.4% of films were directed by women.

– 2 out of 109 films were directed by black women, with Ava DuVernay overseeing Selma and Amma Asante directing Belle. 

– Women made up 15.2% of directors, 28.9% of writers, and 22.6% of series creators.

As we have stated before on this site, many have been blaming The Academy for #OscarsSoWhite; however, what this study shows is that the Oscars is simply a summation of the films that were presented throughout the year.  The lack of inclusion Hollywood begins long before the Oscars.

Change within the Hollywood community has to come from the top where decisions are made, and the mentalities of those who have the power to choose the content that winds up on the big screens and at home on our televisions also has to change.  It’s very easy to resonate with projects that have leading protagonists and stories that are similar to our own backgrounds, and if there is a lack of diversity in this pipeline then that is exactly what the final product (films and television shows) will mirror.

“The prequel to OscarsSoWhite is HollywoodSoWhite.  We don’t have a diversity problem. We have an inclusion crisis.” – Stacy L. Smith, USC professor

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About The Author

Founder, HBR Media

K. Nicole Mills is the Founder of HBR Media. She transitioned from Wall Street to television and film development, and has worked at NBCUniversal, Universal Pictures, and Showtime Networks. She currently develops digital programming for premium networks. Reach out anytime! info@hbrmedia.org

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