Women and minorities have made modest gains in front of and behind the camera but remain significantly underrepresented as leading actors in films, as TV show creators, and as writers, according to a report released this week by UCLA.
The “2017 Hollywood Diversity Report,” which will be released by the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies at UCLA, analyzed 168 theatrical films released in 2015 and more than 1,200 television programs released during the 2014-15 season on broadcast, cable, digital and via syndication, the Los Angeles Times reported before the study’s release. What few gains the report found came from television.
“Television is looking up; it’s moving in the right direction,” Darnell Hunt, director of the Bunche Center and the report’s lead author, told The Times in an interview. “Film, however—that hasn’t really progressed.”
Hunt, a sociologist who has worked in entertainment diversity for more than two decades and helped to launch the annual “Hollywood Diversity” report four years ago, said the massive scale of the TV industry simply offers actors and creators more breaks.
Minority actors, for example, landed 11.4 percent of the lead roles on broadcast scripted television, an increase of more than 3 percentage points over the previous year. In addition, the share of broadcast television shows whose casts are primarily people of color more than doubled—from just 3.3 percent of all shows in 2013-14 to 8.9 percent in 2014-15.
The number of minority writers working behind the scenes also increased during that period. In last year’s report, no scripted broadcast TV programs had minorities constituting a majority of credited writers. The dawn of shows such as “Fresh Off the Boat” and “Empire” have shifted those statistics.
For the 2014-15 season, 3 percent of broadcast scripted shows had a majority of minority writers, The Times reported.
Women saw modest gains as leads in scripted broadcast and cable TV shows with increases of 2.4 percent in both categories, according to the UCLA study. More significant, women posted gains as the creative forces behind popular programs. In scripted cable shows, women now account for 20.9 percent of show creators, an increase of 2.7 percentage points over the year prior.