The UCLA Hollywood Diversity Report shows the progress of women and people of color in the film industry

Ahead of the annual Oscars ceremony, attention in Hollywood is turning to the lack of diversity in the entertainment industry. Ever since #Oscarssowhite trended in 2015 and 2016, when there were no colored nominees for the 20 acting nominations each of these years, the industry has figured out how lacking diversity in front and behind the camera is, among other things. , a missed business opportunity. UCLA has just released its annual Hollywood Diversity Report to address gender and racial diversity differences and efforts to close them.

The UCLA survey found that women had the gains they have achieved on screen, representing 47% of the lead roles in the film and 42% of the actors. Women and people of color have made progress in the central, powerful roles of director and filmmaker, but are still strongly underrepresented. Women are less than 22% of the directors and 33% of the filmmakers. And both male and female colored represent 30% of the directors and 32% of the filmmakers.

“There’s a lot more work to be done, especially for women of color,” said Ana-Christina Ramon, UCLA’s director of research and community engagement. “They’re lagging behind again in getting the big jobs as directors of top films.”

A ripple effect

This lack of diversity at the top has a ripple effect across productions: The study found that films written or directed by women last year had castings that were significantly more diverse than those written or directed by white men. But the study also found that women and people of color have a harder time getting funding for a film, and when they do, they raise less money for their films – they are more likely to manage a film with a budget of less than 20 million dollars. than white men are.

A view of the red carpet during the 93rd annual Oscars at Union Station on April 25, 2021 in Los Angeles, California.

Pool | Getty Images Entertainment | Getty Images

“There is definitely this unequal system that works against women. When you have a higher budget, of course you can do a lot more and [the film] will definitely get a lot more marketing, more support from the studio, “says Ramon.

All of this data, Ramon says, points to a huge opportunity for Hollywood: movies with several different cast perform better in the box office. Eight of the 10 best cinema films in 2021 featured cast that were greater than 30% minority, while films with less than 11% minority actors were the lowest ticket performers.

With attention to these data (and a McKinsey study from 2021 on the possibility of $ 10 billion in addressing anti-black bias), Hollywood has taken steps to address these gaps. Another factor driving change: The Academy set standards for representation and inclusion for films to qualify for the 2024 awards.

These standards deal with on-screen representation, themes and narratives – films can qualify if they have either a main character from an under-represented race or ethnic group, 30% of secondary and minor roles from at least two under-represented groups or a story or subject. centered on an under-represented group. Films must also meet certain criteria in relation to the diversity of creative leadership and project teams, marketing as well as the production company’s access to opportunities.

Studies are already underway in the measurement process to address the transparency of transparency and are working to ensure that they already meet these standards. And they do so by working with a number of non-profit organizations.

Creating a pipeline for diverse talents

One of these organizations, Free The Work, helps place diverse talents on film footage and works with nearly 10,000 hiring companies and 13,500 creators. It also helps companies understand the diversity of their set to accurately assess their representation, in order to submit an independent verified assessment of a production’s diversity.

“What we’re trying to do is actually bring these under-represented creators, who are great storytellers and super-talented, to the forefront, and say it’s just someone you have not discovered yet. It’s someone you have not met yet. “You could be discovering the next Spike Jonze The next Spike Lee,” says Free The Works CEO Pamala Buzick.

One woman who has found jobs through the Free The Works platform is author and director Maureen Bharoocha. The film school graduate indicated her availability on the Free the Works platform when she wanted to enter the industry, and has since directed a range of content, from “Jimmy Kimmel Live!”, To a Jonas Brothers special, to a thriller that aired on Lifetime – and now instructs features.

“It was just a way to put myself out there – another platform to let the world know what I was doing and what I was capable of,” says Bharoocha, who identifies as half Irish and half South Asian. “It’s really important for me to work with partners who are open and looking for new stories, or fresh angles on stories that we’ve seen a million times. And I think you only get that if you have underrepresented voices or see a story. from a different vantage point. “

Studies increasingly seem to agree. Warner Media Chief Inclusion Officer Christy Haubegger said: “Diversity is not the moral thing to do. Diversity will be the way we win, especially in a global marketplace. Where we try to go directly to consumers and appeal to those around the world. “

The Academy explained its initiative to pressure the students to embrace greater diversity in the next few years with this statement: “Our values ​​at the Academy are based on the belief that art and science, including art and science in film production, thrive on diversity. This belief, combined with our mission to recognize and maintain expertise in film art and science, inspire imagination and connect the world through film media, requires a commitment to representation, inclusion and equality.There are so many stories that need to be told and not yet told – we would like to encourage this across the industry. ”

Check out:

Domee Shi was a Pixar intern 11 years ago – now she’s the first woman to solo direct a feature there

Jane Campion becomes the first woman to be nominated for Best Director twice at the Oscars

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