Mar 7, 2024 - World

Diversity boost helps drive success in Hollywood

Share of film lead actors, directors and writers in 2023, by race/ethnicity
Data: UCLA Hollywood Diversity Report 2024; Chart: Axios Visuals. Editor's note: The chart in this story has been corrected to reflect an error in the original data. The share of directors who are Asian is 8%, not 4%.

Hollywood films had their highest share to date of people of color in front of and behind the cameras in 2023, according to a new UCLA report.

The big picture: About one-quarter (26.4%) of the top films last year had a cast that was at least half made up of people of color, the highest proportion since UCLA began documenting diversity trends in 2011.

  • There were also record percentages for theatrical films with writers of color (22.2) and with directors of color (22.9).

Context: The UCLA report on diversity in Hollywood comes ahead of this Sunday's Oscars, for which people of color are nominated in every acting category and include Colman Domingo (lead actor for "Rustin") and America Ferrera (supporting actress for "Barbie").

By the numbers: Latinos have long been underrepresented in Hollywood films and TV, even though they are major box office contributors and streaming subscribers.

  • In 2023, Latinos still had a lower proportion of roles in front of and behind the camera than their proportion of the U.S. population, but they made strides as leads in five of the top 10 box office films.
  • Four writers of Latino descent and four Latino directors also had films in the top 200 English-language films.

Between the lines: The UCLA report also points out that audiences, both in the U.S. and internationally, resonated with movies that have diverse casts.

  • Movies in which people of color made up at least 30% of the cast were 9 of the 10 most seen films globally, the report says.
  • That includes "Scream VI," co-led by Jenna Ortega and Melissa Barrera, which became the highest grossing entry in the Scream franchise.
  • That data undermines the belief long-held by some in Hollywood, the UCLA report says, that global audiences won't watch films about U.S. Black, Latino, Asian or Indigenous people.

Yes, but: It's not clear whether this growing representation in film will continue, the researchers warn.

  • "These gains are most likely a result of the projects greenlit three years ago. We're in a very different and politicized place" nowadays, says Darnell Hunt, professor of sociology at UCLA and co-founder of the Hollywood report.

For example, neither Ortega nor Barrera will be returning for "Scream VII," the latter because she was fired, reportedly over pro-Palestinian social media comments.

  • Latinos also populate behind-the-camera categories, such as David Hinojosa , the producer of best picture nominee "Past Lives," and Rodrigo Prieto, cinematographer for "Killers of the Flower Moon."
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