'Inclusion crisis' in #HollywoodSoWhite, study finds ahead of Oscars

Mon Feb 22, 2016 11:10am EST
 
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(Reuters) - It is not just the Oscars that have a diversity problem. Women, minorities and the LGBT community are vastly under-represented throughout Hollywood, according to a report published on Monday ahead of the Academy Award ceremony.

The report looked at 109 films and 305 television and digital series released in 2014 and found that only 28 percent of all speaking characters are people of color - some 9 percent below the make-up of the U.S. population.

"The results reveal that the prequel to #OscarsSoWhite is #HollywoodSoWhite," said the report by the Media, Diversity & Social Change Initiative at the University of Southern California's (USC) Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.

"This is no mere diversity problem. This is an inclusion crisis," said the report's author, Professor Stacy L. Smith.

The study was published seven days before the Feb. 28 Oscars ceremony in Hollywood - the movie industry's biggest night - which has been overshadowed this year by a furor over the all-white line-up in the lead and supporting acting nominees.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which hands out the Oscars, responded by announcing plans in January to double its numbers of women and minority members by 2020.

Of the 414 movies and TV series studied in the new report, one-third of speaking characters were female, and two percent were lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, the report found. Behind the camera, a mere 15 percent of all directors and 29 percent of writers across film and television were women.

"Over half of the content we examined features no Asian or Asian-American characters, and over 20 percent featured no African-American characters. It is clear that the ecosystem of entertainment is exclusionary," Smith said.

The USC report reflects the findings of other studies in recent years that have looked separately at the representation of women, people of color, and LGBT characters in Hollywood's movies or television industries.

(Reporting By Jill Serjeant; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

 
An Oscar statue stands in front of a curtain during a press event for Foreign Language Film Award nominees leading up to the 87th Academy Awards in Hollywood, California February 20, 2015. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson