Hollywood films 'do not reflect diversity' in US

Actress Penelope Cruz in 2008 Spanish actress Penelope Cruz - the report says Hispanics are "underserved" and "sexualised" by Hollywood

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Hollywood movies are under-representing non-white ethnic groups in the US, a new study says.

Hispanic actors played only 4.9% of speaking parts in 2013 blockbusters, despite making up more than 16% of the population.

Black actors were cast in 14.1% of roles and 17% of films had no black speaking characters.

The University of Southern California report studied almost 4,000 characters in the 100 top-grossing films of 2013.

Although 2014 saw Steve McQueen become the first black director to win an Oscar for his film 12 years A Slave, the study found that there were only 1.1% more black characters on the big screen than in 2007.

It added that if a film had a black director, more black actors were likely to be involved.

"Adding diversity to the director's chair may influence what we see on screen," the report said.

Director Steve McQueen holding his Oscar Steve McQueen became the first black director to win an Oscar in 2014

It said there had been no "meaningful change" - which it set at 5% - in the frequency with which any racial or ethnic group had appeared in popular films in the seven years from 2007-2013.

Hispanics were "clearly the most underserved" racial or ethnic group, the report said.

Although they were cast in only a small percentage of parts, Hispanics bought a quarter of all movie tickets in the US, and command about $1 trillion (£593m) in spending power.

Despite the changing demographics of the US population, "films still portray a homogenised picture of the world", the report said.

"In fact, nearly half of children under age five in the US are not white," it continued, "which means that both the current and future audience for films is far more diverse than what is shown on screen."

The report also found that Hispanic women were shown in "sexualised" portrayals more than any other ethnic group.

More than 37% of Hispanic female characters were shown either naked or partially naked.

The report suggested that this "illustrates how existing cultural stereotypes may still govern how characters from different backgrounds are shown on screen".


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  • rate this

    Comment number 124.

    I have lived in SoCal my whole life, very close to Hollywood and everything that comes from it. What I can tell you is they not only lack diversity, but they also lack the ability to provide genuine, real stories with life enhancing plots. The majority are about worldly catastrophes, special effects, war, or copying old material. "It's what the people want" is the excuse for pathetic production.

  • rate this

    Comment number 75.

    When I was a kid, my friends and I played out scenes from Aliens (as kids do). I played Ripley. I'm a straight British-Filipino male.
    She's a White American Woman. Did I care? No; I thought she was kickass and cool. I did not then, nor have since cared about racial representation, because telling children they can ONLY identify or idolise people "the same as them" creates segregation issues.

  • rate this

    Comment number 51.

    The view of our world is often swayed by popular culture and visual media is a powerful tool for moulding perceptions and political sentiment. Funding mostly follows popular culture or political bias, a purposeful and consistent distortion of reality can sell unworthy products or demonise a nation. Balanced representation is an laudable aspiration but money and influence speaks louder.


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