If you have access to the internet, you have probably seen something or someone that is involved in the Hollywood movie industry. Actors, directors and screenwriters have argued and fought for diversity and representation consistently throughout the years. Isha Pabla, in her insightful article Is Hollywood Becoming More Diverse? raises the important question of what Hollywood is doing in terms of its lack of inclusivity and whether it is in fact diverse (P.S. If you haven’t read her article yet, read it NOW )! But, is onscreen diversity really enough?
The world of Hollywood isn’t glamourized based on the actors that are onscreen – their talents are recognized, awarded, critiqued and historicized by events like the Oscars, Emmys, BAFTA and more. How often are Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (POC) recognized for their talents? Is the problem that they aren’t being given the recognition they deserve based on their hard work?
In Adam B. Vary’s article Women and People of Color Still Underrepresented behind the Scenes, Study Says on Variety.com, it shows how people of colour have been struggling to secure directing positions. A study published in 2011 showed that POC made up 12.2% of directors in theatrical films. As of 2019, 14.4% of the directors were POC. Furthermore, black filmmakers had the highest number of feature directors at 10% whereas 0% of feature directors were Indigenous peoples. Vary also discusses the intersectional ways in which BIPOC men and BIPOC women are represented.
This showcases the ways in which Hollywood lacks diversity; onscreen diversity is just not cutting it anymore.
Representation should look like stories being written by a diverse group, which means being directed, produced and acted out by a diverse group. It should not look like specks of inclusivity here and there. These are only a few ways in which diversity can be endorsed by the glamourized show business of Hollywood.
The Oscars sees significantly more white nominees and the Academy Awards ignore the talents of minorities despite the fact that diversified films resonate with and attract a diverse audience. CNN’s Chauncy Alcorn writes in her article that despite there being a large wave of diversity within Hollywood, the list of Oscar nominees was significantly white. It’s recognized that the voting membership of these entities are largely white males, thus, the results of the vote and the nominations are not surprising.
Why are we continuously supporting industries and academies that do not recognize the talents of minorities? I know you enjoyed Black Panther and Crazy Rich Asians. So why not support the diversity in Hollywood? Why not advocate for more representation? Just because you are not a minority, BIPOC or member of the LGBTQ+ community, it does not mean you cannot help the fight for representation.
Representation matters. It helps you feel empowered to do things, and for some people, it’s a reminder that it is okay for you to even EXIST. As a little girl, seeing someone in some capacity do things that are out of the norm might have inspired you to do the same. We can achieve similar things for the vast group of people who have suffered at the hands of the majority. Groups of people that are reminded every day that they are not beautiful enough as per Western standards to model, to act, to exist.
We all deserve to see ourselves in art. Especially art like movies.