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Hollywood’s Diversity Problem Goes Deeper Than The Oscars

There was widespread criticism of the film industry last month after an all-white slate of actors and actresses was nominated for the Academy Awards, spawning the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite. However, a new study shows that awards are just a symptom of Hollywood’s lack of diversity.

The study, conducted by the Media, Diversity and Social Change Initiative at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, evaluated the diversity of gender, sexuality, race and ethnicity in hundreds of films and TV series released in 2014 and 2015.1

We’ve previously documented the Annenberg School’s examination of gender diversity, but its findings on racial diversity in Hollywood are just as stark. In the chart below, you can see that nonwhite2 on-screen representation is well below U.S. population levels, and it’s even worse for directors. The study also broke down its findings into categories of film, broadcast, streaming and cable, all of which are almost equally white and are often considered a training ground for the silver screen.



  1. Specifically, it looked at 109 films released by major studios in 2014 and 305 first-run broadcast, cable and digital series released between Sept. 1, 2014, and Aug. 31, 2015.

  2. Of the characters with sufficient cues to determine race and ethnicity, the study identified nonwhite characters that were black, Hispanic/Latino, Asian, Middle Eastern and others.

Ella Koeze was a visual journalist for FiveThirtyEight.