A still from "Disobedience," upper left, a still from "Get out, upper right, a still from "Coco," lower left, and a poster for "Moonlight." (Images courtesy of Plan B Entertainment, A24, Disney, Blumhouse Productions, Element Pictures, Film4 Productions)
La Cañada High School

Opinion: The need to strengthen diversity in Hollywood

Hollywood has always had its fair share of problems regarding diversity in casting. In 2015, the hashtag #oscarssowhite trended after no people of color were nominated for an Oscar. Problems surrounding gender and race are only the tip of the iceberg.

In recent years, people began calling out Hollywood for its lack of diversity. I noticed the lack of diversity when I saw Hollywood films, most of the movies having a white female or male protagonist and cast. This is a bad thing because Hollywood is not accurately representing how the world is.

Hollywood lacks diversity in race, sexuality, and gender, some of which are in the works of being fixed. According to Variety Magazine, people of color are severely underrepresented with 13.9 percent making up film leads, 12.6 percent making up film directors, 8.1 percent making up film writers, 18.7 percent making up broadcast scripted leads, 20.2 percent making up cable scripted leads, 26.6 percent making up broadcast reality and other leads, and 20.9 percent making up cable reality and other leads.

First, Hollywood has an apparent lack of Asian actors. Hollywood may have some Asian representation, but they are largely outnumbered by white actors. Asian actors only make up about one percent of Hollywood’s leading roles. The movie “Crazy Rich Asians,” which came out in August, 2018, was praised for having an almost fully Asian cast, and was a step toward proper representation. Other than a select few movies, not a lot of movies feature an Asian actor or character at all.

Hollywood also lacks transgender actors. Cisgender actors were cast to play transgender characters in movies such as “The Danish Girl,” “Boys Don’t Cry,” and “Dallas Buyers Club.” These movies faced major backlash from people in the industry and people online on social platforms. There are plenty of transgender actors willing to play the characters; they are just rarely cast. Many transgender actors have come out and said that cisgender people playing these roles is harmful.

Actress Tracy Lysette tweeted, “Not only do you play us and steal our narrative and our opportunity, but you pat yourselves on the back with trophies and accolades for mimicking what we have lived.”

I think the lack of diversity present in Hollywood is harmful. People go to the movies because they want to see themselves represented. With the lack of diversity, people do not get to see themselves portrayed in movies. Representation is important because when people get to see themselves represented, it gives them confidence and empowerment.

When there are “diverse characters,” the characters are often stereotypical caricatures. For instance, “the smart Asian,” “the flamboyant, gay best friend,” and “the angry black man” are common tropes used.

These stereotypes are harmful as they do not accurately reflect these different types of people, and therefore should not exist in movies. People seeing themselves accurately portrayed in movies is a good thing. People can see that they are normal, even if they do not conform to how society expects them to be.

Representation and appreciation of women are also lacking, not only as actors, but as directors in Hollywood. Only five women have been nominated for Best Director for movies that have been nominated for Oscars since the beginning of the Oscars. As one can see, women are severely underrepresented in this area. Women are active in casting jobs in Hollywood, but they are rarely the directors of big movies. Although sometimes women are the directors of movies, the movies are mostly small films that do not get much credit.

Overall, the lack of diversity in Hollywood is a problem that can be fixed, but not very easily. These current problems are not going to go away unless people put in a lot of effort. People are different, and those differences need to be accepted and celebrated. It is imperative that people see themselves accurately represented in movies. If the industry and film community work a little harder and reach out more, true diversity can start to emerge in Hollywood.

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