Minorities Are Actually Losing Ground in Hollywood, Report Finds

Minorities Are Actually Losing Ground in Hollywood, Report Finds
File photo by mark sebastian/Flickr

Latinos are part of the largest racial or ethnic minority in the United States, and they recently surpassed whites as the numerically dominant demographic group in California.

The country is nearly 40 percent minority, and experts believe people of color could eclipse the white majority by 2043. 

Diversity is everywhere you look these days — on television commercials, in pop music, in sports, in public universities. But Hollywood, an industry that calls a 73 percent minority county its home, is actually losing ground when it comes to hiring people of color.

So says the 2016 Hollywood Diversity Report by UCLA's Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies.

Researchers, led by Bunche Center director Darnell M. Hunt, looked at the top-grossing 200 films in 2014 as well as at 1,146 television shows, including online programs, from the 2013-14 season.

"Minorities lost ground in six of the 11 arenas examined and merely held their ground in the other four," the report states.

This at a time when the Academy Awards is feeling pressure from minority groups — a protest led by Rev. Al Sharpton is expected to happen outside Sunday's event — because only whites received acting nominations for the second year in a row.

Here are some of the UCLA study's highlights:

-In film, minorities got 12.9 percent of lead rules, down from 16.7 percent in 2013, UCLA says.

-Minorities got 12.9 percent of the film director gigs, down from 17.8 percent in 2013, the report says.

-For women directors, that figure was women just 4.3 percent, down from 6.3 percent in 2013.  

-Minorities were writers on 8 percent of the films examined, down from 11.8 percent in 2013.

-Women got writing credits in 9.2 percent of the films, down from 12.9 percent in 2013.

-Women got 35.8 percent of the lead roles in broadcast scripted shows, down from 48.6 percent in the 2012-13 season.

-Minorities got 15.9 percent of the lead roles on cable shows, down from 16.8 percent in 2012-13.

-Minorities were credited as show creators in 3.3 percent of the broadcast scripted shows examined, which is down from 5.9 percent in 2012-13.

And so on.

One hopeful highlight was in broadcast scripted TV, where minorities got 8.1 percent of the roles, according to the study. That's up from 6.5 percent in 2012-13.

But still, the report says, "Minorities remain seriously underrepresented in this broadcast scripted arena."

The study also reiterated that diverse productions — those with casts that were greater than 30 percent nonwhite — made more money for the industry.

"Films with relatively diverse casts enjoyed the highest median global box office receipts and the highest median return on investment," the study says. "Minorities accounted for the majority of ticket sales for four of the top 10 films in 2014."

It also found that broadcast TV shows with casts that were 31 to 40 percent nonwhite received the most mentions on Twitter.

"What we’ve found for three years running now is that audiences prefer content that looks like America,” Hunt said.

Unfortunately, it looks like Hollywood still isn't getting the message.


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