Film Independent Tue 3.3.2015

Dear White Male People: You Still Dominate Hollywood

A little over a week ago, Best First Screenplay Spirit Award winner Justin Simien told the revelers at the ceremony that he started writing Dear White People “as an impulse because I didn’t really see my story out there in the culture.” Simien went on to encourage other young filmmakers, “If you don’t see yourself in the culture, please put yourself there, because we need you. We need to see the world from your eyes.”

A few days later, when the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies at UCLA released its Diversity Report, it proved just how desperate and urgent Simien’s plea really is.

In the exhaustive report—which examined the top theatrical film releases in 2012 and 2013 and all broadcast, cable and digital platform TV programs from the 2012-13 season—the news for artists and executives of color went from bad to worse then horrific.

When you read the highlights­—and by that we mean low points—below, keep in mind that minorities constitute nearly 40% of the US population. Women make up half the population in the country.

 Minorities are getting shut out of lead film roles
Of 174 films examined for 2013, minorities got less than 17% of lead roles.

In what was considered a “breakout” year for black films (2013), minority directors were still under-represented 3 to 1.
Yes, we cheered for the release of Lee Daniels’ The Butler, 12 Years a Slave and Fruitvale Station—all in the same year!—but overall in 2013, less than 18% of the films were directed by minorities. “They bettered their degree of under-representation,” from the year before, according to the report.

The picture’s even uglier for women
Women directed a little over 6% of the 2013 films.

No wonder… Look who’s flicking the green lights.
The report revealed that in 2013, film studio heads were 94% white and 100% male. And television network and studio heads were 96% white and 71% male.

For more sad stats, read the whole Hollywood Diversity Report.

Pamela Miller / Website & Grants Manager