Is Hollywood Becoming More Diverse?

When I look at my television screen, I, like many others, want to see people that look like me. When I think about various social identities in terms of race, age, sexual orientation and religion, I hope to see individuals with characteristics similar to mine on my screen, and I advocate for the representation that many others deserve.

As a brown girl, when I look at my television, I am extremely disappointed and occasionally offended by what I see. Think about it: name five brown actors, actresses or stars in Hollywood right now. The names that came up were probably similar to the list my family came up with, which included Priyanka Chopra, Dev Patel, Kunal Nayyar, Mindy Kaling and Hasan Minhaj. Some of these actors are not even recognized by name. They are often referred to, or recognized as, Nick Jonas’s girlfriend, the guy from Slumdog Millionaire, the brown guy with an accent from the Big Bang Theory, the girl from the office and the stand-up comedy host. Truthfully, one could probably name twice as many blonde women in Hollywood, and that causes feelings of concern and anger for me.

The point is these actors or actresses are unknown because they are often overlooked and not given the recognition they deserve. Not only are their accomplishments dismissed or diminished, but their achievements are also seen as insignificant and trivial. When I think about racial representation, in accordance with the media’s perspective, any other race other than black or white is often forgotten. Hollywood is often praised for being inclusive in terms of hiring a wide variety of actors, but I feel that this statement often goes unaccompanied by action. Though television shows and movies have begun embracing and involving more dark-skinned actors, as a young brown woman, I feel this statement holds no merit in accordance with the brown community.

When the brown community is given some representation among actors, we often see that these actors are prone to playing characters that fall into traditional Indian stereotypes. Some examples of these include actors portraying characters with thick accents, being extremely book smart, being shy and awkward or not being sexually attractive. When these characters don’t fit into conventional stereotypes, they are labelled as white-washed or uncultured.

I feel that my community is not receiving the appropriate representation, fairness and justice we deserve. Years ago, as a young brown girl, I would have greatly respected and applauded Hollywood for creating idols for a community that is overlooked. To this day, I feel underwhelmed and insignificant in the face of adversity. As a brown woman pursuing a double degree in computer science and business, I would love and certainly appreciate being able to identify with television series characters or movie stars.

Brown people are underrepresented, and many people forget that people of colour include the brown community. So, I ask: is Hollywood as diverse as it is proclaimed to be?