Hollywood’s lack of diversity within executive, leadership positions in dominating media and production companies.
By Isabelle Delostrinos
The public has been holding the entertainment industry accountable for diversity and inclusivity within the last decade. The fight to bring more people of color on the big screen has resulted in some of the best films and top grossing movies. Black Panther was the best selling movie of 2018. The film featured a predominantly Black cast and crew, and even a Black director from our very own city of Oakland. Its storyline about a Black superhero and technologically advanced country that was powerful and was loved by many. History was made with Black Panther and raises the standards for the rest of the industry to tell inclusive stories in cinema.
Disney and Marvel have continued to expand their movie casts and crews with people of color. Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse was based on the life of Miles Morales, a Black teenager in New York adjusting to his new life with spidey powers. Universal Studios distributed Jordan Peele’s Us, which featured a Black family escaping their frightening doubles. This is one of the few horror movies to feature a Black writer and director along with a Black family as the main characters. Stories created by people of color have broken the stereotypical roles minority groups are automatically placed in. The progress that the industry has made is important, and it shows through the successes of these movies.
Amidst the 2020 protests, many companies came forward to publicly state their solidarity with the BLM movement. They joined the movement to Black out Instagram by posting a solid black square and also tweeted statements to demonstrate their alliance. Disney stated “We stand against racism. We stand for inclusion. We stand with our fellow black employees, storytellers, creators and the entire black community. We must unite and speak out.” In a world with the internet and rapid information sharing, the public holds these companies accountable for their responses to current events. These actions reassure consumers that they are supporting people who share the same beliefs as them. But how much longer will Twitter statements be the acceptable action from these companies?
Despite the growing library of movies with a diverse cast and inclusive storyline, on screen representation isn’t the only thing the public is looking for. More people are bringing attention to the lack of diversity in higher level executive positions within the dominating entertainment companies. To stand with people of color means to also provide these groups with equal opportunity to be at these positions. Having people of color as high level decision makers and executives would help overturn the saturated industry. Allowing these fresh minds and different perspectives into these high power groups would be a breakthrough for the entertainment industry. The minority voice would be heard and power the change that entertainment needs.
Projects like Black Panther, Into the Spiderverse and Crazy Rich Asians have been well received by the public. Works by people of color are consistently successful and larger companies should recognize the talent these groups have to offer. Putting people of color in these power positions will only advance the company and appeal to a wider, diverse audience. We cannot deny the progress our generation has made with representation, but should keep pushing the issue to be diverse in all aspects of the industry. Statements of solidarity act only as reassurance, and cannot be the solution for so long. When these large, dominant companies include people of color into their executive positions, other industries would be influenced to do the same.
Melanie Moyer '22,