UCLA Hollywood Diversity Report Finds Glaring Absence Of Women And People Of Color In Top Studio Positions

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As we come to a close of what many have said is another #OscarsSoWhite awards season, UCLA has released its annual Hollywood Diversity Report which surveys representation of women and people of color in film during 2018 and 2019.

As opposed to its 2017 study, this year’s report will solely examine film. The TV study will be released this spring. Overall, the top films of 2018 and 2019 show that that there is an increase in acting jobs for people of color and women in film. However, when you turn the camera behind the scenes, the report finds there is a large underrepresentation of minorities in jobs as writers, directors and executives. That said, the seventh annual report tells the “story of two Hollywoods” as Hollywood becomes more and more aware that diversity sells.

“As of 2019, both women and minorities are within striking distance of proportionate representation when it comes to lead roles and total cast,” said Darnell Hunt, dean of the UCLA College division of social sciences and the report’s co-author. “But behind the scenes, it’s a very different story. That begs the question — are we actually seeing systematic change, or is Hollywood just appealing to diverse audiences through casting, but without fundamentally altering the way studios do business behind the camera?”

For acting roles, the numbers are progressively rising since UCLA researchers first started tracking data. The researchers analyzed 139 films with the highest gross global ticket receipts of 2018. They found that 41% of lead roles went to women and 26.6% to minorities. And among all acting roles in those films, 40.4% went to women and 30.9% to people of color.

For 2019, there was a tick up as women had 44.1% of lead acting roles and 40.2% of the total cast in the 145 films. People of color made up 27.6% of lead actors and 32.7% of all film roles in 2019.

Each year, the report also analyzes the range of cast diversity among the top-grossing movies. In previous reports, films with the least diverse casts (less than 11% of the cast were minority actors) made up the largest share of the top-grossing movies. Things took a turn in 2019. 15.9% of the top-grossing movies had casts that were less than 11% minorities. By comparison, more than half of the top films in 2011 had less than 11% minority casts.

There has been traction when it comes to women and minorities in writing and directing roles, but it’s nowhere where it needs to be. In 2018, just 7.1% of the directors of top-grossing films were women and 19.3% were people of color. In 2019, women reached 15.1%, but people of color dipped to 14.4%.

For writing credits, in 2018, 14.8% were women and people of color landed at 10.4%. There was a tick up in 2019, with 17.4% of writing credits going to women and 13.9% to people of color.

The report also took a look at buying power and found that people of color accounted for at least 50% of domestic ticket sales for six of the top 10 films in 2018. In 2019, minorities bought at least 50% of tickets for nine of the top 10 films. In 2018, films with casts made up of 21% to 30% minority actors had the highest median global ticket receipts. In 2019, the films that tended to perform the best at the box office were even more diverse, with casts in the 41% to 50% minority range.

The 2020 Hollywood Diversity Report also includes a workplace analysis of 11 major and mid-major studios, which found that 91% of C-level positions are held by white people and 82% are held by men. Among all senior executive positions, 93% percent are held by white people and 80% by men. Things begin to get a little better as you move down the org chart. Studios’ film unit heads are 86% white, but only 69% male.

There has been traction when it comes to women and minorities in writing and directing roles, but it’s nowhere where it needs to be. In 2018, just 7.1% of the directors of top-grossing films were women and 19.3% were people of color. In 2019, women reached 15.1%, but people of color dipped to 14.4%.

For writing credits, in 2018, 14.8% were women and people of color landed at 10.4%. There was a tick up in 2019, with 17.4% of writing credits going to women and 13.9% to people of color.

The report also took a look at buying power and found that people of color accounted for at least 50% of domestic ticket sales for six of the top 10 films in 2018. In 2019, minorities bought at least 50% of tickets for nine of the top 10 films. In 2018, films with casts made up of 21% to 30% minority actors had the highest median global ticket receipts. In 2019, the films that tended to perform the best at the box office were even more diverse, with casts in the 41% to 50% minority range.

The 2020 Hollywood Diversity Report also includes a workplace analysis of 11 major and mid-major studios, which found that 91% of C-level positions are held by white people and 82% are held by men. Among all senior executive positions, 93% percent are held by white people and 80% by men. Things begin to get a little better as you move down the org chart. Studios’ film unit heads are 86% white, but only 69% male.

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