Earlier this morning, The New York Times made Hollywood's ongoing diversity problem more personal than ever by releasing first-person accounts from 27 of the industry's leading talents.
Gathering up the likes of producer Effie Brown, director Justin Lin, screenwriter John Ridley and actors like Queen Latifah, Mindy Kaling, Julia Roberts, Eva Longoria, Wendell Pierce, America Ferrera and more, the piece uncovers their personal experiences of not feeling accepted in an industry dominated by straight white males and how they pushed forward.
The article is broken down into various stages, from "School Years" to "Getting Your Foot in the Door," "On the Set" and more, and by structuring the accounts this way, The New York Times makes clear just how much the odds are stacked against women and people of color at every stage of breaking into and making it in the industry. Perhaps the most shocking section is "Talking to the Suits," in which interviewees share blistering accounts of talking to Hollywood executives about everything from casting choices to subject matter.
Ridley, the Oscar-winning screenwriter of "12 Years A Slave," remembers, "[In a mid-1990s] meeting, I was determined the lead [for a film] would be a black woman, and I remember the executive saying, 'Why does she have to be black?' And me saying: 'She doesn’t have to be; I want her to be black. Why would you not consider it?' It was stunning that they were so comfortable [saying that] to a person of color. That was the most painful, that casual disregard for my experience."
Adds "Dope" director Rick Famuyiwa, "It’s always a weird conversation when you’re trying to explain how a film about kids from Inglewood can be mainstream, but you don’t have the same conversation about a very specific set of kids in suburban Chicago or South Boston."
Head over to The New York Times website to read the entire article.