‘Black Panther’ And ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ Won’t Solve Hollywood’s Diversity Problem

crazy rich asians cast

A new study from USC’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative finds gains for underrepresented groups in 2018, but also highlights longstanding inequities.

The seismic success of last year’s “Black Panther” and “Crazy Rich Asians” has helped demolish the longstanding myth that Hollywood movies by and about people of color don’t sell at the box office, and brought cautious optimism that the entertainment industry is finally trying to better portray historically underrepresented groups.

A new study released Wednesday confirms that those movies brought gains in diversity and representation — but also warns that Hollywood shouldn’t rest on its laurels because there are still longstanding inequities.

Thanks in part to the landmark blockbusters, speaking roles for Black and Asian actors in 2018 increased to their highest level in more than 10 years, according to the study by University of Southern California professor Stacy L. Smith and the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, which has long studied representation in Hollywood.

Examining 53,178 characters in the top 100 highest-grossing movies from 2007 to 2018 (a total of 1,200 movies), Smith and her team found that speaking roles for “underrepresented racial/ethnic groups” — defined as Black, Latino, Asian, Middle Eastern or North African, Native American, Pacific Islander, or multiracial — increased from 29.3% in 2017 to 36.3% in 2018. (read more)

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