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Diversity in Hollywood sees almost no change in past 10 years — study

/ 07:49 PM August 01, 2017

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While Hollywood continues to raise awareness on diversity and inclusion, movies from the last 10 years reflect that not much has changed.

According to a study reported by Variety, to measure inclusivity for gender, race, LGBTQ status and disability, 40,000 characters from 900 Hollywood movies between 2007 to 2016 were analyzed.

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Dr. Stacy L. Smith who led the study with the Media, Diversity, and Social Change Initiative at the University of Southern California, Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism found that there was little and in some cases, no change at all in the representation of film characters.

Male gay characters had one of the highest rises from 19 to 36 speaking roles—but still a dismal number for the demographic and for the LGBTQ community. LGBTQ women on the other hand had only nine speaking roles out of the top 100 films.

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Female speaking characters rose slightly from 29.9 percent to 31.4 percent from 2007 to 2016, with no change between 2015 to 2016. In 2016, 34 films were led by a woman, only two more than in 2015. Men onscreen continued to outnumber women at 2.3 to 1.

The numbers were more dismal for ethnic minorities. White men and women dominated speaking roles at 70.8 percent in the top 100 movies of 2016. Minorities shared the remainder, with black people at 13.6 percent, Asians at 5.7 percent, Hispanics at 3.1 percent and other at 7 percent.

Characters with disabilities in 2015 barely increased from 2.4 percent to 2.7 percent in 2016.

The lack of diversity onscreen is rooted at the lack of it offscreen: women only made up 4.2 percent of directors, 13.2 percent of writers, 20.7 percent of producers and 1.7 percent of composers. In the 2015 study, people of color were deeply underrepresented at the director’s chair. Of 886 directors, 5.5 percent were black while 2.8 percent were Asian.

The initiative has been calling for strategic solutions, such as having institutions set transparent inclusion goals, and having changes mapped out in contracts. For instance, simply setting the goal of adding five women to scripts already balances out genders within a few years.

While the Academy has invited members from 57 countries to vote in the next Oscars, the winning films may continue to be white- and male-dominated if the films themselves aren’t diverse. Niña V. Guno/JB

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TAGS: diversity, Hollywood, inclusion, representation
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