WASHINGTON — A national multi-ethnic coalition on March 25 denounced Deadline, a news/media website, for its March 24 article on Hollywood diversity by editor Nellie Andreeva.
The article paints a picture of “reverse discrimination” in an industry in which people of color — who make up nearly 40% of the U.S. population — have been vastly underrepresented and caricatured since its inception to the present day.
The article calls for color-blind casting, claiming that there are not enough talented people of color to fill roles and that requests for diverse talent from studios and networks cause less qualified people of color to take roles away from better qualified white actors. The article also suggests that networks and studios have diversity quotas.
A recent report from the UCLA Ralph J. Bunche Center found that although people of color made “small to modest gains in several Hollywood employment arenas since the last report, they remain [demographically] underrepresented on every front.” The same report finds, however, that “increasingly diverse audiences prefer diverse film and television content.”
According to the coalition, the article overlooks the fact that it is the stunning success of this season’s diverse television shows that is driving the producers and networks to ask for diverse actors — not some kind of misguided attempt to impose quotas.
The following statement was issued by American Indians in Film and Television, Asian Pacific American Media Coalition, NAACP Hollywood Bureau, and National Hispanic Media Coalition:
“Shame on Deadline for giving a platform to the prejudices of a few Hollywood agents who, under the cloak of anonymity, revealed themselves to be among the entertainment industry gatekeepers reluctant to change their unfair and exclusionary practices and make way for progress.
“The inaccuracies and misconceptions the article put forth are patently offensive and reflect a larger problem of persisting racial and ethnic bias in the entertainment industry.
“Genuine progress in diversity on television is an extremely recent phenomenon and we applaud recent steps to diversify television in front and behind the camera. For full inclusion to happen, however, the entire industry’s discriminatory business model that has historically pushed out people of color needs to change.”
The Multi-Ethnic Coalition, which in 2000 signed memoranda of understanding with ABC, NBC, CBS and Fox in which the networks committed to increase diversity in their ranks, offers the following recommendations to Deadline and Hollywood talent agencies who question the value of diversity:
“Deadline should take immediate steps to hire more reporters and editors of color to broaden its coverage of people of color in the entertainment industry and increase understanding of diversity’s value in the industry.
“People of color are poorly represented in Hollywood talent agencies. We request meetings with all of the agencies to bring our concerns and talent pools to the table, and help turn this around. Studios and networks have made it clear that diversity is good business, and clearly some agents are looking for talent in the wrong places. We can help.”
The Asian Pacific American Media Coalition’s members include such organizations as the Asian American Justice Center, East West Players, Japanese American Citizens League, Media Action Network for Asian Americans, National Federation of Filipino American Associations, OCA, Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund, and Visual Communications.
The National Hispanic Media Coalition is a media advocacy and civil rights organization for the advancement of Latinos, working towards a media that is fair and inclusive of Latinos, and towards universal, affordable, and open access to communications.
American Indians in Film and Television is an advocacy group that endeavors to defend and enhance the interests of American Indians in the mediums of film, television and telecommunications.
Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation’s oldest and largest nonpartisan civil rights organization. Its members throughout the U.S. and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities.