Film is still fighting an uphill battle — and despite appearances to the contrary, so is TV.
A comprehensive study from USC Annenberg has detailed the lack of diversity in both media, tracking 109 movies and 305 broadcast,
cable, and digital TV series released in 2014. The study analyzed gender, racial/ethnic and LGBT representation both on and off screen.
The not-so-shocking twist: Diverse representation is still sorely lacking across both TV and film, even though television has gained relative praise in recent years for being more diverse than its big-screen counterpart.
See also: The Hollywood diversity report card
Here are the highlights of the in-depth study.
Out of 11,306 speaking characters evaluated, the study found that 66.5% were male and 33.5% were female. Broken down further, it shows that women only make up 28.7% of all speaking roles in film, versus less than 40% for scripted shows.
When it comes to lead roles in films, men landed 73.5%, while women were left with 26.5%. In TV, 42% of series regulars were girls/women. Here’s the breakdown across TV platforms: streaming (44.2%), broadcast (41.6%) and cable (41%).
When it came to age in films, men age 40 or older were much more likely to get cast than women (78.6% vs. 21.4%).
Behind the scenes, only 3.4% of all film directors are female. On TV, broadcast had 17.1% female directors, while streaming had 11.8% Screenwriting had similarly low results. The study looked at 6,421 writers across platforms and found that 71.1% were men, while 28.9% were female.
This was the representation breakdown of onscreen presences across platforms: white (71.7%), black (12.2%), Hispanic/Latino (5.8%), Asian (5.1%), Middle Eastern (2.3%), other (3.1%).
Only 28.3% of speaking characters that year came from underrepresented racial/ethnic groups. A disturbing pattern shows that many TV shows and films failed to have any speaking characters who were black/African American or Asian; in fact, half of all shows and films failed to portray a single speaking or named Asian or Asian American character.
Here’s the breakdown of just which minority groups had lead roles in film: black (65.6%), Latino (12.5%) and Asian (6.3%). About 15.6% were from “other” races/ethnicities.
In TV, 26.6% of series regulars were nonwhite. Broadcast and streaming led the way, with 27.6% and 29.6%, respectively, with cable following at 24.6%.
Underrepresented female characters over the age of 40 only made up 2% of speaking roles.
Out of the 407 directors analyzed across platforms, 87% were white, while 13% were from underrepresented backgrounds.
Only 2% of all speaking characters across platforms (11,194, to be exact) were coded as lesbian (49), gay (158) or bisexual (17). Only seven speaking or named characters were transgender, four of which were on one show.
Of those characters, 72.1% were male and 27.9% were female. Additionally, about 78.9% were white, while 21.1% were from other underrepresented racial/ethnic groups.
The study also analyzed the traits associated with these LGBT roles. Few of those characters were portrayed as parents or caregivers, though a little over half were shown in “committed romantic partnerships.”
You can read the entire study here, on USC Annenberg’s site.
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