If you've ever wondered why TV usually looks more like Friends and less like In Living Color, this might offer some explanation:
In the last 10 years or so minorities have doubled their presence in the writers' rooms of Hollywood television productions, but they still remain woefully underrepresented, the Writers Guild of America, West announced this week:
People of color are represented in staff TV writing jobs at a rate of 15.6 percent, according to data culled from 2011-12 season by the Guild. That's double the minority representation seen in 1999-2000, according to the organization.
Still, that means that fewer than 2 of every 10 writers is African American, Latino or Asian (or Native American). And most TV writers are based in L.A., a county where one out of every two of us is Latino.
Comparing those same seasons, female representation in writers' rooms has only gone up 5 percent, to 30.5. The Guild states:
At this rate of increase it would be another 42 years before women reach proportionate representation in television staff employment.
Among the ranks of executive producers, women are underrepresented at a rate of 2-1, with minorities at nearly 5-1, the Guild says.
One in 10 shows during that latest season had zero — count 'em, zero — women on their writing staffs, says the group: Nearly one-third (!!!) had not one minority writer on staff.
The Guild has developed a Writer Access Project to get minority and women writers gigs in Hollywood. Why is this important?
Darnell Hunt, director of the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies at UCLA, wrote in the Guild's report:
It all begins with the writing. From concept to characters, from plot to narrative, writers play a fundamental role in the fashioning of stories a society circulates about itself. But in the Hollywood entertainment industry, unfortunately, there has all too often existed a disconnect between the writers hired to tell the stories and an America that's increasingly diverse with each passing day.