Diversity in Hollywood 2019: By the numbers

·Writer, Yahoo Entertainment

Over the past three years, several major studies of diversity in Hollywood have been conducted by industry groups and independent organizations. To study onscreen representation, researchers collected data about race and gender of movie characters, as well as the presence of LGBT characters, elderly characters, and disabled characters in studio films. Here are some of their findings.

Diversity onscreen

  • People of color represent 38.7 percent of the U.S. population, but accounted for only 13.9 percent of lead roles in the top films of 2016. Only 1.4 of 10 lead actors in film are people of color. (UCLA Hollywood Diversity Report 2018)

  • Of all speaking characters in the top films from 2007 to 2017, 70.7 percent are white. (USC Annenberg: Inclusion in 1,100 Popular Films… 2007-2017)

  • 8 percent of the U.S. population is Latinx. Only 6.2 percent of films feature a Latinx speaking character. (USC Annenberg: Inclusion in 1,100 Popular Films)

  • In family films, white leads outnumber leads of color by 4 to 1. (Geena Davis Institute on Gender and Media Benchmark Report 2019)

  • Women make up 51 percent of the U.S. population. Only 13 percent of films have casts with fairly equal numbers of men and women. The average ratio of men to women onscreen is more than 2 to 1. (USC Annenberg: Inclusion in 1,100 Popular Films)

  • The percentage of women onscreen in 2017 was less than 2 percent higher than it was 10 years earlier. That number increased dramatically in 2018 to 40 percent … which is still 10 percent below parity. (USC Annenberg: Inclusion in 1,000 Popular Films and USC Annenberg: Inequality Across 1,200 Popular Films Research Brief)

  • Teenage girl characters are over 20 percent more likely to be shown partially naked in films than boy characters of the same age. (USC Annenberg: The Future is Female?… Portrayal of Girls and Teens in Popular Movies)

  • Of the top 100 films of 2017, 43 had no black women, 65 had no Asian women, 64 had no Latina women, and 94 had no LGBT women. In contrast, only seven did not feature a white woman. (USC Annenberg: Inclusion in 1,100 Popular Films)

  • Only four movies from 2017 had a woman of color at the center of the story. In 2018, that number increased to 11. (USC Annenberg: Inclusion in 1,100 Popular Films, USC Annenberg: Inequality Across 1,200 Popular Films)

  • 8 percent of children in the U.S. are non-white, but in films with young female leads, 77 percent of them are white. (USC Annenberg: The Future is Female)

Fewer than 1 percent of speaking characters in films identify as LGBTQ. (GIF: Quinn Lemmers for Yahoo Entertainment)
Fewer than 1 percent of speaking characters in films identify as LGBTQ. (GIF: Quinn Lemmers for Yahoo Entertainment)
  • 5 percent of the U.S. population identifies as LGBTQ. Fewer than 1 percent of speaking characters in films identify as LGBTQ. The top 1,100 films of 2004-17 contained a total of one transgender character (USC Annenberg: Inclusion in 1,100 Popular Films)

  • In 2017, 30 movies starred a man 45 years or older; only five films starred a woman in the same age bracket. (USC Annenberg: Inclusion in 1,100 Popular Films)

  • 7 percent of the U.S. population has a disability. In 2017, only 2.5 percent of film characters were shown as having a disability. In family films, that number is less than 1 percent. (USC Annenberg: Inclusion in 1,100 Popular Films, Geena Davis Benchmark Report)

  • Nearly 20 percent of the U.S. population is 60 or older. In 2016, only 6 of the top 100 films had a senior protagonist. More than half the films featuring senior characters included dialogue in which they were mocked for being old. (USC Annenberg: Still Rare, Still Ridiculed: Portrayals of Senior Characters… 2015-2016)

Diversity behind the camera

Why aren’t films more reflective of their audience? One reason is that the whole film industry is predominantly white and male, meaning that movies are written, designed, shot and edited almost exclusively from a white male viewpoint. Women and people of color are severely underrepresented as Hollywood directors, screenwriters, cinematographers, producers, film executives, composers, and crew members, among other jobs necessary to bring a film to life. This is not for lack of talent, but a lack of opportunity that is so pervasive, the ACLU is building a federal case around discriminatory practices at the six major studios. Some numbers that demonstrate the issue:

  • Fewer than 1 in 10 film directors is female. The ratio of male directors to female directors is 22 to 1. (UCLA Hollywood Diversity Report, USC Annenberg: Inclusion in the Director’s Chair… 2007-2018)

  • Male directors of studio films are able work across seven decades (from their twenties through their eighties), whereas female directors are only hired from their thirties through their sixties (USC Annenberg: Inclusion in the Director’s Chair)

In 2018, an unprecedented 16 black directors worked across the 100 top-grossing films, up from six in 2017 and just two in 2011. (GIF: Quinn Lemmers for Yahoo Entertainment)
In 2018, an unprecedented 16 black directors worked across the 100 top-grossing films, up from six in 2017 and just two in 2011. (GIF: Quinn Lemmers for Yahoo Entertainment)
  • In 2018, an unprecedented 16 black directors worked across the 100 top-grossing films. In 2017, that number was six; in 2011, the number was two. (USC Annenberg: Inclusion in the Director’s Chair)

  • Between 2007 and 2018, only nine directing assignments on the 1,200 top films were filled by women of color. (USC Annenberg: Inclusion in the Director’s Chair)

  • Women are 28 percent less likely than men to get a second directing assignment after making a top film. (USC Annenberg: Inclusion in the Director’s Chair)

  • Only 8 percent of studio films are written by people of color. Only 13.8 percent are written by women. (UCLA Hollywood Diversity report)

  • Men hold 82.7 percent of top executive positions at major media companies, and three-quarters of corporate board seats. (USC Annenberg: Inclusion in the Director’s Chair)

  • 93 percent of film producers are white men. 1.6 percent of film producers are women of color. The ratio of white men to women of color as producers is 44 to 1. (USC Annenberg: Inclusion in the Director’s Chair)

  • Below-the-line jobs are often segregated by gender. Women make up more than 75 percent of casting directors, hair stylists, makeup artists, and costume designers. Men make up more than 80 percent of editors and production designers, more than 97 percent of composers, and more than 99 percent of camera operators. (USC Annenberg: Inclusion in the Director’s Chair)

  • In 2017, 30 percent of the top 250 films employed either zero or one woman in the roles of director, writer, producer, executive producer, editor, and cinematographer. Seventy percent of films employed 10 or more men in these roles. (Center for the Study of Women & Television In Film, San Diego State University: The Celluloid Ceiling, Behind-the-Scenes Employment of Women on the Top 100, 250, and 500 Films of 2017)

  • In the 2017 films with black directors, 18.5 percent of speaking characters were black women. In films without black directors, only 2.5 percent of speaking characters were black women. (USC Annenberg: Inclusion in the Director’s Chair)

  • Films directed by women include 12 percent more female character than those directed by men. Films written by women include 8 percent more female characters than those written by men. (USC Annenberg: Inclusion in the Director’s Chair)

Read Part 3 to find out why all these numbers matter, and what Hollywood can do about it.

Yahoo Entertainment’s Diversity in Hollywood 2019 Report

Part 1: Where we are, how far we have to go and how we can get there
Part 2: By the numbers
Part 3: Why it’s time for change and 5 possible solutions
Part 4: Crossroads at the Oscars
Part 5: The future is now