There is no doubt that diversity continues to be a big problem in Hollywood both on screen and behind the scenes, but what is often missing is a call to action. How can we bridge the gap between gender, race and ethnicity on both an individual and studio level? Last week, Winston Baker speaker Dr. Stacy Smith of USC Annenberg, leading expert in media inclusion, published a new study, ‘Inequality in 900 Popular Films’, that not only sheds light on Hollywood’s inclusion crisis but also provides us with solutions on how to combat issues of representation in the film industry.
Here are some highlights from the study:
What Can Companies, Industry Executives, and Content Creators Do?
Companies must start setting inclusion goals and creating inclusive consideration lists when hiring directors and other behind-the scenes roles. Film Schools and Film Festivals can also set benchmarks for inclusion to help bring in diverse talent. These efforts must be made in spaces where learning, pitching and work ensures environments do not trigger stereotypes and are focused on combating implicit and explicit biases. In addition, by just adding five female speaking characters to every film, the percentage of females on screen would increase resulting in on screen gender equality in a mere three years!
How Can Actors Get Involved?
Another solution is for high-profile talent to add an equity clause to their contract. Dr. Smith along with civil rights attorney Kalpana Kotagal devised a clause that specifies a more equitable process for auditioning and casting on‐screen talent and interviewing and hiring for behind‐the‐camera jobs.
Where Should Consumers Focus Their Efforts?
Consumers can support content that is driven by or features females, underrepresented groups, LGBT individuals, and people with disabilities. In addition, shareholders can influence companies to do more to create inclusive content by demanding transparency, accountability, and ultimately, diversity in the products these corporations create and sell.