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Diversity

Hollywood Is Very White (L.A. ... Not So Much)

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Tue, Feb 18, 2014 at 9:05 AM
click to enlarge Researchers Zachary Price, Ana-Christina Ramon and Darnell Hunt of UCLA
  • Researchers Zachary Price, Ana-Christina Ramon and Darnell Hunt of UCLA
Los Angeles county is "majority minority." Whites make up a little more than one in four of us. Latinos comprise nearly half of the population. The rest? Also minorities.

But you surely wouldn't know that from viewing the products of the Hollywood film and television industry. Sure, Hollywood is a national medium, but it doesn't reflect even America's whiter-leaning diversity.

That's according to new research from UCLA's Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies:

The 2014 Hollywood Diversity Report's look at women and minorities in acting, writing, directing and producing found that representation was one half of the national demographic at best, one-twelfth at worst.

Researchers, including lead author Darnell Hunt, looked at 172 movies from 2011 and more than 1,000 television shows from the 2011 - '12 season.

While minorities make up more than one-third (36 percent) of the U.S. population, "they appeared as leads at less than one-third the rate that would be expected based on their proportion of the population," according to a UCLA summary.

For TV comedies and dramas it was worse, with minority under representation happening at a factor of seven to one, the study found.

Female directors were underrepresented by a factor of 12 to one, minority directors were underrepresented by a factor of three to one, and writers were underrepresented by a factor of five to one, the school said.

The major talent agencies, which represent about two-thirds of directors, lead actors, and writers in Hollywood, are about 90 percent white, UCLA says.

Alex Nogales, president and CEO of the National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC), which has been trying to get Hollywood to diversify for decades, says "it's not encouraging to work at what we do for all these years and still see the needle stuck:"
It's almost a joke. What they do is go to Mexico and other parts south and they bring in Latino talent from south of the border. We have 55 million Latinos on this side that are never given the opportunity. These guys are too damn lazy to come and look for us.

... People want to work with people who are like them. It is about not wanting to venture outside of a comfort level that, according to Hollywood, gets the work done.

Nogales says NHMC is privy to the latest television diversity figures, however, and they're better for minorities than UCLA's more-than year-old stats. However, Nogales said, "the numbers are slightly up, but only slightly."

Hunt:
The report paints a picture of an industry that is woefully out of touch with an emerging America, an America that's becoming more diverse by the day. ... Hollywood does pretty well financially right now, but it could do a lot better if it were better reflecting the diversity of America.
Send feedback and tips to the author. Follow Dennis Romero on Twitter at @dennisjromero. Follow LA Weekly News on Twitter at @laweeklynews.

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