New York Times Gender Letter: Hollywood is as White, Straight and Male as Ever

By Maya Salam

2 August 2018

Psst, Hollywood. I really think you want me on your side. I’m an entertainment junkie, and always have been. My free moments are spent shamelessly bingeing movies and oh-so-many shows. As a child in the 1980s and ’90s, I would watch and rewatch everything available to me until I swear I reached the entertainment event horizon.

As a journalist, I reported on entertainment news for years. I know my stuff, and I assure you, Hollywood, I’m growing pickier by the day.

Since the veil fell on the epidemic of sexual misconduct in the industry — starting with the unraveling of Harvey Weinstein last fall and most recently with accusations of misconduct leveled at Les Moonves, the C.E.O. of CBS — I’ve been thinking ever more critically about the entertainment I choose to consume, mindfully putting my money, my time and my enthusiasm where my mouth is. And my mouth is attached to a gay woman of color.

But according to a new report from the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who is like me or looks like me in most Hollywood films, in front of or behind the camera.

Despite the rise of hashtags like #OscarsSoWhite — and, more recently, celebrated films with women, people of color and queer people at their center like “Wonder Woman,” “Black Panther” and “Call Me by Your Name” — there’s been little progress over the last decade.

Researchers found that of the top 100 films each year from 2007 to 2017 (that’s 1,100 films in total), representation of women, people of color, L.G.B.T.Q. people and the disabled has remained overwhelmingly stagnant: Women have never accounted for more than 33 percent of speaking roles in a given year.

Read Salam’s full Gender Letter in the New York Times.