Changes in Hollywood & The Diversity Report


Riley Howard

Hollywood Sign in Los Angeles, California

Riley Howard, Writer and Reporter


Hollywood Sign in Los Angeles, California (Riley Howard)

According to UCLA´s Hollywood diversity report conducted by its Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, there has been “major strides in terms of diversity and inclusion for women and people of color in the entertainment industry”. Landing 27.6% of lead roles in top films in 2021 is definitely an improvement in providing equal representation, but that progress still may be too slow and for the wrong reasons.  

      Further Analysis of UCLA’s research raises the question of whether or not there was a significant change resulting from the impact of COVID-19. More women and people of color got jobs last year in the categories of lead actors, total cast, writers, and directors. In the acting categories, they reached close to proportionate representation (accurately reflecting their make-up of the population at large). 

     The report’s co-author Darnell Hunt takes this with a grain of salt. He notes “If we see the same thing next year when theaters start fully reopening at regular function, then we know that the changes we’re seeing are more meaningful and sustained as opposed to just outliers because of the pandemic.” In other words, Hollywood is creating more inclusive stories and films that are connected with their audience’s backgrounds. 

     Yet, there still remains a very obvious disconnect between producing these films for profit and awards versus the appreciation of different cultures/races that points to another question. Who’s in charge of all of this? Decisions about what types of films to make, how large a budget to assign to them, how they will be marketed, and who will be at the directorial helm are all made by the men and women who occupy Hollywood’s executive suites. 

     In early 2021, these decisions continued to be dominated by white men at the 11 major and mid-major studios (Hunt). This may also be why the report showed films with black or female leads were more likely to have smaller budgets than those with white and male leads. So when it comes to inclusion, analyzed box-office earnings show it is highly profitable for movie studios. While it is amazing that women and people of color are highlighted in films for younger and older generations, the behind-the-scenes of Hollywood simply are obscure. 

     Paul Dergarabedian, a senior media analyst, says “If you want to take the most absolute cynical view, everything in Hollywood is powered by the almighty dollar”. However, we live in a world that is made up of many wonderful people. Those voices from a business standpoint should be reflected and understood. This has a great impact on the bottom line, and should come before profit in the eyes of anyone in the film industry.