2015 may have been considered a benchmark year for women in film, but not for its women of colour. A hollow victory, then, and a mark of how much work is still to be done.
Though the number of lead roles played by women may have risen by 10% over the past year, that statistic didn't extend to actors from minority backgrounds; as revealed by a report conducted by the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University, covering the top 100-grossing films at the US box office. Overall, women comprised of only 22% of protagonists, the highest since the survey's initiation in 2002 recorded its previous best at 18%.
Yet, that change was barely seen amongst women of colour; the increase was only slight amongst Black female characters, unchanged amongst Latina characters, and slightly decreased amongst Asian female characters. Furthermore, they were less likely to be featured as a significant character; only 27% had major roles, as opposed to 38% amongst white females.
These statistics seem only to echo the frustrations felt amongst the #OscarsSoWhite movement, where both Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress categories are occupied only by white nominees; it's another level to consider in the discussion of how the awards both reflect industry happenings, and further help to cement them by promoting a lack of diversity as standard.
The survey also discovered the majority of female characters to be in their 20s and 30s, as opposed to a male majority in their 30s and 40s; as well as revealing men were more likely to be seen at work, and provided with identifiable goals.
The box office successes of Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Mad Max: Fury Road may have hailed 2015 as victorious for women in film, but these statistics remain vital in understanding progress in the future needs both to be inclusive and decisive.
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