Support for LAist comes from
We Explain L.A.
Stay Connected

Share This

Arts and Entertainment

The Super Sad Numbers Of The Underrepresented Groups In Hollywood

LAist relies on your reader support, not paywalls.
Freely accessible local news is vital. Please power our reporters and help keep us independent with a donation today.

Though we all know deep down that there's a lack of diversity when it comes to filmmakers and actors in the movie industry, it's another thing to look at some seriously depressing figures about it. It just makes it that much more real. A new USC study released on Monday revealed just how underrepresented minorities are in Hollywood.

The Media, Diversity, & Social Change Initiative (MDSCI) at USC’s Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism took a look at the 100 top-grossing films from 2007 to 2010 and 2012 to 2013, and studied the numbers of all the people who had speaking roles, whether it was just one word or many that they uttered on screen.

Despite the fact that folks with Hispanic and Latino backgrounds are filling up the seats at the theaters (they make up 25 percent of the movie tickets sales) and represent 16.3 percent of the nation's population, the study showed that their group was one of the most underrepresented.

Hispanic and Latinos had 4.9 percent of the speaking roles. Black characters only made up 14.1 percent of the speaking roles, in contrast to the 74.1 percent of white actors. And in tow, Asians made up 4.4 percent, and Middle Eastern actors with 1 percent.

Support for LAist comes from

“Hispanics and Latinos are one of the fastest-growing groups in the U.S.,” said Marc Choueiti, one of the study’s authors. “If popular films were the only way to gauge diversity, viewers would be completely unaware of this. Individuals from this group are almost invisible on screen.”

And even though on the surface it seemed like 2013 was a better year for black filmmakers and actors—with Steven McQueen being the first black director to snag the Oscars' Best Picture golden statuette for 12 Years a Slave, and other films like The Butler and 42 at the helm during awards season—that didn't ring true with the reality of the industry. In fact, the folks behind the study didn't see any "meaningful difference" of the underrepresented groups in the 600 films they studied of the six-year period. In 2013, of the 107 directors who made the top 100 grossing films, only 6.5 percent of them were black (and in those numbers, seven of those films were helmed by five black directors). (And according to BuzzFeed, blacks make up 13.1 percent of the U.S. population and make up 11 percent of North American movie ticket sales.)

And if race wasn't already a big enough issue in getting speaking roles, there are some major disparities between different genders. Men outnumbered women across the board in film roles, according to the study, though Hispanic/Latino women (37.5 percent) were more likely to be featured in popular films than other races (white women filled 29.6 percent of the speaking roles).

Earlier this year, the 2014 Hollywood Diversity Report was released, which also showed some disparaging numbers. Dr. Darnell Hunt, the leader of the study told the Daily Mail about the major problem with the film industry's lack of diversity: "So when you have a society that’s becoming more and more diverse, if you have an industry that is lagging, you have a distorted view of what’s going on in the world… You have a very narrow depiction of what is normal and what is American."