One of the biggest issues in the world of TV and movies is diversity and inclusion. While this has perhaps always been an issue in the biz, last year's Oscar ceremony put a spotlight on the subject. Following the Academy's nominations of entirely white actors, the campaign #OscarsSoWhite became viral and brought national attention to the subject of equal representation in the media. And while this year's Oscar nominees are far more diverse than last year, it seems that there still may be work to do in order to become more inclusive of people of color, women, and LGBT folks.
UCLA recently did a study which examined 2016's film and TV projects in regards to diversity both on and off camera. And while the Oscars will presumably have far less controversy surrounding the ceremony this year, UCLA claims that the work isn't done. The recent study found that just 29 percent of leading actors were female in 2016. Additionally, only 7.7 percent of directors were women. These findings attempt to inspire the community to continue the work towards inclusion, despite a much more diverse Oscar pool.
UCLA's study focused on the top 200 films of the year, as well as over 1,000 TV shows across network, cable, premium, and streaming providers.
And while this study may seem discouraging and alarming, it's important to note that 2016 was a major one in regards to equality in Hollywood. In regards to female representation, we saw quite the shift in this year. Part of this is due to Daisy Ridley's leading role as Rey in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. J.J. Abrams' megahit saw a strong leading character who just happens to be female. The character was extremely well received, and there was major controversy when action figures and merchandise left Rey out.
This fallout led to an increase in female characters' inclusion in merchandise, from Star Wars' Rey to Marvel's Black Widow. Additionally, Wonder Woman was produced for the DCEU, which features a cast full of strong female characters and a female director in the form of Patty Jenkins. The MCU will follow suit, producing two female led installments with Captain Marvel and Ant-Man and the Wasp.
UCLA actually produced a short video to present their findings, and it contains tons of interesting information regarding the imbalances between demographic groups in Hollywood. And while things are changing, it makes the case that caucasian men are still very much on top in the entertainment industry. Check it out below.
That being said, I think you would be hard pressed to find someone who doesn't think that 2016 was a positive one in regards to inclusion and diversity for TV and film. So although there is still work to be done, it's clear that the conversation revolving around visibility is indeed doing some good.