Hollywood still fails miserably on almost every indicator of diversity. There is, however, some hope in American television.
According to a UCLA report (pdf), the share of scripted shows with minority cast members of 10% or less has dropped significantly. In 2012, 30% of all shows had 10% minority actors or less – this figure fell to 16% in 2016, the last year studied. The percentage of castings with a majority minority increased from 2% in 2011 to 18% in 2016.
There has also been a significant improvement in the diversity of scripted shows on cable. In 2011, the share of majority-minority castes fell from 8.4% to 14.8%. It wasn’t all good news, however. The share of minority distributions of 10% or less remained about the same for digital scripted shows (from 45.5% in 2012 to 42.2 in 2016).
The report also looked at the proportion of people of color in leading roles on television. In broadcast scripted shows, people of color quadrupled their share of leads, from 5.1% in the 2011-12 season to 18.7% in 2015-16. There has also been a big leap into cable and digital; people of color made up 20% of scripted leads on cable in 2015-2016 (down from 14.7), while they made up 12.9% of leads in digital scripted shows (down from 9.1).
There was less progress in the film industry. People of color accounted for 13.9% of top-grossing movie headliners in 2016, virtually unchanged from the previous year. The report notes that people of color are expected to triple their share in 2016 to achieve proportional representation.
The study also broke down the share of acting roles by race on television. White actors had 76% of roles in scripted shows that aired during the 2014-15 season. Although this figure fell to 66% in 2015-2016, it was still higher than the proportional representation of whites in the United States, where they represent 61.3% of the total population). Black actors had 17% of all roles. As black people make up 13.3% of the U.S. population, the report’s authors note that “black people were overrepresented among actors in scripted shows that aired.” Other minority groups, such as Latinos and Asians, were underrepresented.
The share of white actors in scripted roles on cable fell from 79% to 74.6% during the same period. Black actors had proportional representation while all other minority groups were underrepresented. There was not much progress for digital scripted shows – the share of roles for white actors remained unchanged, while all other racial groups were underrepresented. That said, the number of creators of color in digital scripted shows more than doubled, from 6.2% in 2013 to 15.7% in 2016.