Hollywood's Diversity Emergency Isn't Black
African-American actors are justified in their criticism of the Academy Awards' nomination shutout of black performances for the second year in a row. The academy itself has admitted it by instituting a membership shakeup.
It's African-American actors (Michael B. Jordan, Idris Elba, Samuel L. Jackson and Will Smith, among other potential honorees) who were potentially robbed. It's African-American luminaries (Spike Lee, Jada Pinkett Smith) who have led the charge, at least by example, to boycott to the Oscars. And it's African-American fans who have made #OscarsSoWhite an infectious national conversation.
But it's other minorities that really have a lot to gain by Hollywood's re-examination of its old, white ways. In a sense, Latinos and Asian-Americans could be riding #OscarsSoWhite's coattails all the way to fame and fortune.
African-Americans have been good at infiltrating the otherwise impenetrable walls of Hollywood. The industry has finally figured out young Americans love black pop culture.
Last year's UCLA Hollywood Diversity Report, for example, found that in broadcast and cable television, "Black characters were overrepresented" compared with their prevalence in the American population (which is 13 percent).
Yep, you read that right.
While Latinos are America's largest minority and California's largest racial or ethnic group, Hollywood's answer to diversity criticism has for years been to cast one black role as a coverall.
The result has been acute when it comes to lack of representation in a city that's half Latino.
In scripted, broadcast TV, for example, UCLA found that Latinos got only 2 percent of the roles. Asians got 4 percent.
"Representing about 17 percent of the U.S. population in 2013, Latinos were the most underrepresented among the minority groups, by a factor of more than 8-to-1," the UCLA report states.
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A USC study in 2014 found that Latinos got about 5 percent of major-film speaking roles. Last year African-Americans were all over the big screen (Creed, Straight Outta Compton), which is why the nominations shutout was such a burn. And we don't have to tell you about the success of TV shows like Fox's Empire.
But it's also why Hollywood diversity is not just a black problem, at least not onscreen.
Other facets of Hollywood do remain impenetrable to all minorities:
The club represented by studio CEOs and chairs was found by UCLA to be 94 percent white and 100 percent male. Ninety-two percent of senior studio managers were white, the school found. In 2014 the university reported that 88 percent of directors, 92 percent of writers and 90 percent of major-agency talent agents were white.
We're not saying that African-Americans in Hollywood have nothing to complain about. We're arguing that other minorities have the most to win at this point, even as their black brothers and sisters do the heavy lifting on the front lines.
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