Following the whitest Academy Awards in nearly 20 years, UCLA’s Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies released its 2015 Hollywood Diversity Report. Sociologist and center Director Darnell Hunt described the findings to The Hollywood Reporter: “Hollywood is not progressing at the same rate as America is diversifying.”
The study, which surveyed the top 200 worldwide box office films and 1,105 television series in 2012 and 2013, found that racial minorities and women were substantially underrepresented in both acting and directing roles. Those films with at least 30% diversity, however, did best in the worldwide box office tallies.
Study co-author Ana-Christina Ramon believes these numbers show that, “audiences, regardless of their race, are clamoring for more diverse content.” So what’s the holdup?
“It’s a high-risk industry,” says Hunt. “People want to surround themselves with collaborators they’re comfortable with, which tends to mean people they’ve networked with—and nine times out of 10, they’ll look similar. It reproduced the same opportunities for the same kind of people: You’re surrounding yourself with a bunch of white men to feel comfortable.”
Hunt suggests that emerging digital platforms like Netflix and Amazon could create more opportunities for on-screen diversity. Still, he is hesitant to make grand claims about progress: “It’s getting better, but it’s not getting better fast enough. And it’s still a big problem.”