Industry News

Black representation in film and TV: The challenges and impact of increasing diversity

10 March, 2021

Movies and television are often an escape from and a reflection of life unfolding. They also can play an outsize role in shaping and reinforcing cultural beliefs and attitudes about race, both in the United States and internationally. Yet for the thousands of people who toil in a range of on- and off-screen positions in the sprawling film and TV industry, movies and television are something much more grounded—they are a job. And for Black professionals trying to build and sustain a career in film and TV, the industry has been, by many of their accounts, a relatively unwelcoming workplace.

While a certain amount of progress has been made with on-screen talent in recent years, and although several entertainment companies are starting to make strides toward diversity and inclusion, our new analysis shows that inequity persists and is deeply entrenched across the film and TV ecosystem. Data on the levels of diversity and representation on-screen have been available for several years. But those numbers alone, as important as they are, tell only one part of the story. We examined in detail the racial complexities and challenges of this dynamic workplace, analyzing the entire film and TV ecosystem—including studios, networks, production and streaming companies, and distributors—through the lens of the individuals who must navigate it: on-screen talent, as well as off-screen writers, producers, directors, executives, agents, crew members, and beyond.

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