Despite growing demand and awareness around inclusion and representation, a new report found that women, minorities, and LGBT people appeared in the top-grossing Hollywood movies in numbers vastly disproportionate to their U.S. demographics.
The study was led by USC professor Dr. Tracy L. Smith under the Media, Diversity, and Social Change Initiative at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. Smith and her team analyzed the top 100 grossing films from 2007-2016 (excluding 2011, which was covered in a separate report). Out of 900 films surveyed, 40,000 characters were measured for gender, race, LGBTQ identities, or disability. Over the decade, Smith found very little change in onscreen representation, and even less inclusivity amongst directors.
“These are embarrassing findings to a progressive industry that cares deeply about inclusion,” Smith told Variety. “The activism is clearly not reaching studio decision makers.”
In 2016, 31.4% of speaking characters were female, the same as in 2015 and a paltry increase from 29.9% in 2007. In terms of race, 70.8% of speaking roles in 2016’s top earners were white, compared to 13.6% black, 5.7% Asian, and 3.1% Hispanic or Latino, and 7% other.
Only 4.2% of the top films had women directors, 13.2% women writers, and 20.7% women producers. Gay male characters were one of the few groups to improve their visibility from year to year, increasing to 32 speaking characters in 2016 from 17 in 2007.