Lack of diversity continues to dog the film industry, with minimal improvement in female speaking roles over the last decade and persistent dominance of white men both on screen and behind the camera, according to a USC report released today.
The annual film diversity report by the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative reviewed the top 100 films of each year from 2007 to 2017. The study found that in 2017, females represented just 31.8 percent of speaking characters in the top films, a slight improvement from 29.9 percent in 2007.
Only 43 women worked as directors on the 1,100 films examined in the report. Of the 1,223 directors who worked on the 1,100 films examined, only 5.2 percent were Black and only 3.1 percent were Asian.
The report also found little movement in the percentages of Black, Hispanic, Asian or other under-represented ethnic groups appearing on screen.
Of the characters in the top 100 films of 2017, 70.7 percent were White, while 12.1 percent were black, 6.2 percent were Hispanic and 4.8 percent were Asian.
The report noted that when a film is led by a Black director, the percentage of Black characters in the movie increases by 41.8 percent.
Characters with disabilities were also hard to find in the top films of last year, representing only 2.5 percent of roles, according to the study.
“Following years of advocacy and efforts to create change by groups and individuals throughout the industry, the evidence in this report suggests that 2017 was not meaningfully different from prior years,” according to the report. “… In terms of women and people of color, Hollywood movies continue to present viewers with a status quo that skews from reality.”
The report’s authors note: “Given the industry attention to inclusion, it is difficult to understand why the numbers remain resistant to change. Many of these roles reflect supporting or inconsequential characters, parts for which gender, race/ethnicity, sexuality or disability matter little to the plot. Content creators can easily diversify the fabric of their storytelling simply by reimaging the world in which their characters live and interact.
“Moreover, writers and storytellers should remember the diversity that already exists in their own world — where these characters are created.”