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Hollywood has made no improvement in onscreen diversity, report says

Last year, only 31.8% of characters with dialogue were women, which is roughly the same ratio that's been seen over the last decade

Clarisse Loughrey
Tuesday 31 July 2018 13:14
Cate Blanchett addresses crowd as 82 women walk the red carpet in Cannes film festival protest

This was the fear of so many pushing for greater diversity in front of, and behind, the camera: that Hollywood would be all talk, no action.

And those fears seem to have come true, according to a new report published by the University of Southern California (USC) Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, which analysed the 100 top-grossing films each year since 2007.

Amongst the findings, it uncovered that, last year, only 31.8% of characters with dialogue were women, which is roughly the same ratio that's been seen over the last decade. Of women in leading roles, only five were aged 45 or older.

Despite campaigns such as #OscarsSoWhite making efforts to centre diversity as a key issue within the industry, the statistics are particularly dispiriting when it comes to women of colour: only four women of colour were leads in 2017, and white actors were cast in 70.7% of all speaking roles.

Of the top 100 films, 43 had no black female characters, 65 had no Asian or Asian-American female characters, and 64 had no Latina characters.

Neither have the statistics improved for LGBTQ representation. Out of more than 4,400 characters from last year whose sexuality was analysed, only 31 (0.7%) were lesbian, gay, or bisexual; roles that were predominately white and male. Out of 400 mainstream films from 2014 to 2017, there has only been one trans character.

Furthermore, the report found that only 2.5% of all characters from the top 100 films had a disability.

“There is a cacophony of voices crying out for change, but Hollywood hasn’t changed its hiring practices,” Stacy L Smith, who authored the report, stated (via The Guardian). “We’re seeing very stable trends and very little movement in storytelling.”

Smith has called for the widespread adoption of the inclusion rider, as highlighted in Frances McDormand's Oscar speech earlier this year, which adds a clause to contracts requiring cast and crew on films to meet a certain level of diversity. Also suggested was that states with tax incentive programs for film productions should also make diverse casts and crews part of their requirements.

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“After witnessing little change in these numbers, it is clear that Hollywood must do more to ensure that 
marginalized groups are a part of the fabric of storytelling. Good intentions are not enough to create change,” said Smith (via Deadline).

“Hollywood needs tangible,
 actionable solutions that will usher in real transformation. Our work brings to light the steps that
 companies and individuals can take if they want to see results.”

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