As many of you know or have heard by now, this past weekend was the 75th annual Golden Globes. Dating back to 1944, the Golden Globes are a series of accolades presented for work in domestic and foreign television and film that generally set the stage for the Oscars. Presently there are 15 Golden Globe awards in film and 10 in television.
This year’s award ceremony was special as several powerful undercurrents were present – notably recognizing diversity, discrimination and sexual harassment. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association honored some wonderful winners, including fellow Indian American, Aziz Ansari. Ansari won “Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy” for his show on Netflix – Master of None. This made Aziz the first Indian and first Asian American actor to win a Golden Globe. Ever.
While this is a phenomenal honor and we seriously could not be more proud & happy for Aziz, how is this even real life? Its the 21st century not the 1900’s. How is it that the 75th Golden Globes ceremony in 2018 is trying to work on recognizing diversity & equality, but is still stuck on women – a movement that started in the 1920’s. 100 years later? Seriously? Anyone else feel like Natalie Portman, when she announced the all male nominees for directors?
YAS. 👏🏽. If we were announcing we would have taken a stab at the less than 5% of all Golden Globe nominations in the last 20 years to people of color.
HOLLYWOOD’S DIVERSITY PROBLEM
Since 1997, Black actors have been nominated for & won less than 5% of all Golden Globe awards. In that time, Asian actors by comparison have been nominated for less than 0.5% of all Golden Globes and won once, apparently. A few days ago. But this lack of representation of minorities, females, and LGBTQ has not gone unnoticed.
In July 2017, the University of Southern California published the results of an inclusion study in Hollywood from 2007-2016. This measured the diversity (gender, race, ethnicity and sexual orientation) of almost 40,000 characters in over 900 popular films. Heres what they found:
Major Gender & Sexuality Inequality: Less than a third of speaking roles were female, less than 4% of film directors were female, and less than 2% of characters with speaking roles identified themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and/or transexual. In addition, women over the age of 40 faced serious age discrimination and were significantly less likely to be cast than their male counterparts. Women were also significantly less likely to be the lead. The most concerning part of these stats? That these values don’t really change over the course of 9 years.
Extreme Racial Inequality: The same study found that less than a fourth of all speaking roles across those 900 films and 40,000 characters were played by a minority. Of those roles, less than 14% were played by a Black actor, 4% by a Hispanic actor, and 6% by an Asian actor. Now granted thats over the course of 9 years: surely lots has changed since 2007. But the study dispelled this too. Of the top 100 films in 2016, 47% lacked a single Black actor, 66% lacked a single Asian actor, and 72% lacked a single Hispanic actor. Again, that was in 2016 people 😵.
Oprah has been so famously quoted from that evening, but the truth is that which Sterling K. Brown (Randall on This is Us) mentioned, “You wrote a role for a black man that could only be played by a black man, and it makes it that much harder to dismiss me. Or anyone else who looks like me”. While this study was eye-opening & jaw dropping in bringing forward the true lack of diversity in Hollywood, correlation is not causation. It could be that 75% of films with major backings are stories about Caucasian males in their own Caucasian male-dominated world being watched by predominantly Caucasian male audiences. But to us this seems like an altered reality, a fantasy even. So lets start writing & producing more films about the fearless fight of females, the passion of the LGBTQ community, AND the innovation of immigrants.