Isn’t it nice when the eggheads at some major research university confirm a basic fact that we’ve always just kinda known to be true? Well get ready to feel nice, because the folks at UCLA’s Ralph J. Bunche Center for African-American Studies have just published their second annual Hollywood Diversity Report (via The Hollywood Reporter), and the verdict is… Hollywood isn’t diverse! Yes, none of us are surprised, but it never hurts to apply statistical models and scientific methods to really drive home the point. And from the looks of things, TV and Film studio execs could use a sobering dose of social scientific reality.
Still, based on the report there’s plenty to be optimistic about. For starters, the data analyzed by lead author Darnell Hunt and co-author Ana-Christina Ramon is from 2012-13, and according to the authors, there have already been noteworthy gains in the past year. But, to paraphrase the study’s conclusions: there’s still a long freakin’ road ahead.
Using data from the top grossing 200 U.S. films from that time period as well as the whole slate of broadcast and cable television programming, Hunt and Ramon compared minority and female representation in different categories to the total percentage of the population these groups represent. No surprises here. 94% of film studio executives are white, 93.5% of lead actors on broadcast T.V. are white, and 82% of motion picture directors are — take a guess…
But there were some unexpected and promising findings in the report, notably that films and television shows with diverse casts do better on average than their nearly all-white (defined as less than 20% “diverse”) counterparts. Given that the grey-haired, white males calling the shots in American media are far more concerned about the almighty dollar than seeing their own reflection on screen, we may very well see a continuation of the trend that has brought us shows like Jane the Virgin and Oscar-winning directors like Alfonso Cuarón and Alejandro González Iñárritu over the past few years. Just take a look at the growth of minority representation in film casts between 2011 and 2013:
Yet before we go shootin’ off our pistols and dancing “La Cucaracha” in celebration (hey, the T.V. told me that’s what we do…), there are some downsides to being lumped in with every other minority group into some amorphous “diverse” category. Take a look at this infographic for proof:
Yes, there is a significant minority representation in acting roles both on broadcast and cable T.V., but when the numbers are broken down further, we see that Latinos are in dead last place, with 2% and 3% representation, respectively. That puts us behind “black” “Asian” and “mixed” in the case of broadcast television, and tied with the latter for last place in cable. Weren’t we, like, 17% of population? Long way to go, indeed.