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We Need Diversity in Televison and Film

Amber Starr

At the 2015 Golden Globe Awards, Gina Rodriguez won the Golden Globe Award for best actress in a television series. It was her first Golden Globe, and also her first nomination. After her win, the internet erupted with both excitement and dialogue because Rodriguez became the second Latina actress to win a Golden Globe award for best actress in a television series in the ceremony’s history. America Ferrera’s win for Ugly Betty in 2007 was the first. These victories are counted as small and necessary steps toward the progress and representation many desire to see reflected in our television and film industry that is apparent in our everyday lives.

The discussion of diversity in film and television is one that has seen a recent resurgence over the past year due to the inclusion (and sometimes exclusion) of more minority creators, producers and directors, as well as minority-driven narratives in television and film.

The casting of John Boyega as a Stormtrooper in the upcoming Star Wars: Episode VII-The Force Awakens, in addition to Michael B. Jordan being cast as The Human Torch in the upcoming remake of The Fantastic Four are two prime examples of more inclusive, and color-blind casting.

Conversely, there are films such as Exodus: Gods and Kings. The internet erupted into dialogue regarding the casting of all-white actors to play the roles of ancient Egyptians-who. The film’s legendary director Ridley Scott implied that he could not use lesser known minority actors in the title roles because the film would not be financed. Furthermore, the film’s studio owner Rupert Murdoch took to Twitter to question the controversy surrounding the film’s casting, writing, “Since when are Egyptians not white? All I know are.”

Evan Roberts believes the issue lies less with the talent of minority performers, and more so the demand coming from audiences to see minority driven films, commenting, “The problem is not, and never has been ‘can we do it?’ as throughout history minority entertainers have been the most demanded as well as the most imitated. The question is always: Will white audiences pay to see this?” This awareness has prompted numerous proactive responses from those working within the television and film industry to find solutions to give more minority filmmakers a voice in Hollywood.

Notably, Fox Studios offers a writer’s initiative that identifies and hires diverse groups of writer’s for their programs, in order to ensure a more honest portrayal of characters belonging to minority and LGBT communities. Recently, discussion to provide more grants and funds to minority filmmakers has increased, with the goal of providing them the same level of access and exposure in the film industry as their counterparts.

It is becoming increasingly more important to acknowledge and celebrate the contributions to society that other cultures have made through film; as the medium of film is and continues to be a way in which concepts are challenged, and notions can be changed. As Gina Rodriguez so eloquently said in her Golden Globe acceptance speech, her award “represents a culture that wants to see themselves as heroes.” And there are still so many people in the world wanting to see the same of their culture.