NPR logo George Takei And Company To Hollywood Gatekeepers: Fix Your Diversity Problem

George Takei And Company To Hollywood Gatekeepers: Fix Your Diversity Problem

Remember that Deadline article from a few weeks back? In which the writer pointed out that Hollywood is diversifying — and claimed that's a bad thing?

At least one good thing may come of it:

A media coalition of multi-ethnic Hollywood watchdogs — including the American Indians in Film and Television, Asian Pacific American Media Coalition, NAACP Hollywood Bureau and National Hispanic Media Coalition — is calling on the industry's talent agencies to meet with the coalition and talk about how to inject more color into their lineups, not less.

"Although the major talent agencies are located in Los Angeles, the most diverse city in the world, they seem largely unaware of the amazing talent that exists in communities right under their noses," actor and activist George Takei said in the group's press release. "They should partner with these coalitions for their mutual benefit: more representation and jobs for Asian American and other actors of color, and more dollars for the agencies."

A recent report from the University of California, Los Angeles, found that the majority-white lineup of Hollywood's most elite talent agencies is where the industry's lack of diversity comes from.

"Despite modest gains in a few areas, minority talent remained underrepresented on every front at the dominant agencies," the researchers wrote. In 2013, for instance, ethnic minorities made up about 40 percent of the U.S. population, but accounted for only 17 percent of film roles.

These agencies control the playing field, reports Dennis Romero for the LA Weekly. "They send out agency-approved lists of directors and talent. They 'package' deals with studios that bring pre-selected producers, directors and leading actors to the table. And they foster rising stars. From what we've been told, none of those pursuits includes many people of color."

The conversation rages on, but it's worth noting that we've been here before. Earlier this month, Code Switch's Gene Demby wrote that "this isn't the first time prime-time TV has gone through a wave of brownification; in fact, network TV was way, way browner 20 years ago than it is today."

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