During the COVID-19 pandemic, television viewers embraced content that came out of diverse writers rooms and featured diverse casts, according to a new UCLA report released on Tuesday.
“We have seen this appetite for diverse content repeated over the history of our analyses,” said Darnell Hunt, UCLA’s dean of social sciences and co-author of the Hollywood Diversity Report. “The fact that shows with diverse writers rooms did well last year also illustrates that audiences are looking for authentic portrayals.”
However, the research also revealed a bleaker picture for Latino talent. The study said Latino representation in all job categories remained flat from the previous year, and Latinos hold far fewer TV jobs than their share of the U.S. population overall . Latino actors held only 6.3% of broadcast TV roles, 5.7% in cable and 5.5% in streaming. Meanwhile, Latino directors were responsible for only 5.4% of broadcast TV episodes, 3.5% of cable episodes and 3.0% of streaming episodes.
“This UCLA report clearly demonstrates that more work is necessary to achieve more accurate representation and truly authentic portrayals in American television,” said U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro of Texas. ”I hope this report encourages entertainment executives to reevaluate their systems for recruiting, retaining, and promoting Latinx talent, work in earnest to make changes, and create a more inclusive culture.”
According to the report, a significant proportion of 2019–20 TV content — 35% of broadcast shows, 22.9% of cable and 25.7% of streaming — was made in Los Angeles, where census data shows that 48.6% of the population is Hispanic or Latino.
“Diversifying the workforce means bringing equity to the economy and ensuring inclusionary practices in Hollywood,” said California State Assemblywoman Wendy Carrillo. “As Latinos make up the largest population in the state of California, yet only a dismal percentage in Hollywood, I’m looking forward to ensuring the Latinx community is not subsidizing its own exclusion via California’s Film Tax Credit Program, which the legislature oversees.”
The report, which covers statistics for the 2019–20 TV season, tracks racial and gender diversity among key job categories, as well as ratings and social media engagement for 461 scripted shows across 50 broadcast, cable and streaming providers.
The new study found a continued correlation between the racial makeup of shows’ writers and TV ratings. For example, the report said that among households of all races in 2019–20, the scripted broadcast shows that earned the highest median ratings were those in which people of color were credited were between 31% and 40% of the credited writers.
Other takeaways from the report:
The number of acting roles for women in 2019–20 was nearly equal to those of men across all three platform types. Women made up 46.3% of total cast in scripted broadcast shows, 45.3% in cable and 46.9% in streaming.
Trans and nonbinary actors were virtually absent across all platforms.
Out of a total 2,932 credited actors, just 13 were Native people, including just three Native women.
People of color directed 25.8% of broadcast episodes, 27.2% of cable and 21.4% of streaming, up from 24.3% and, 22.9% and 18.2% in the 2018–19 season.
Women directed 30.6% of broadcast episodes, 31.3% of cable and 33.4% of streaming, up from 29.3%, 29.7% and 29.1% the prior season.
Read the full report here.