New Yorkers know the entertainment industry.
On a certain day of the week, a new product is photographed, created or developed on our streets and in our communities. We host world premieres, cultural events and some of the most famous and memorable media sites and websites.
But while filming is common in our neighborhoods, efforts to ensure that entertainment produced in New York, the vast and diverse fabric of what they call home, are tragically unavailable. And this story is not unique to our city.
From the East Coast to the West, in every corner of this country, we see both a severe lack of diversity in the stories we tell and a growing discussion about the urgency to advance in space, direct results of such a apparent disregard for groups. and its loss on and off the stages of the film, television and live broadcast networks since its inception.
This year, I joined STARZ and fellow members Nanette Barragan (California Dim), Judy Chu (D-California) and Grace Man (DN.Y.) to make a change many have long been calling for. In May, we introduced HR 1138, the nation's flagship entertainment and arts through diversity (LEAD) resolution. Through this legislation, we want to raise awareness about the underrepresented in the entertainment industry and call on other stakeholders in Congress and other sectors to develop real solutions that empower underrepresented communities on entertainment platforms and beyond.
We all know this problem has been around for a long time. Much of this is due to a lack of models of color, writers, directors and/or producers, as well as a lack of boards, CEOs and decision makers with different points of view. In addition, there is not enough cultural knowledge to truly authentically and accurately tell stories of black and brown that are American stories.
But don't take my word for it. These numbers show:
- Less than 6% of American writers, directors and producers are black. In some genres (such as the superhero genre), acting is inferior.
- In 2021, all blacks were only responsible for 30.2% of directors and 32.3% of screenwriters of films made that year, and despite great progress, blacks and black women as screenwriters and directors are still underrepresented and usually assist low-budget films.
- The least represented groups in each occupational category relative to their presence in the United States are Hispanic, Asian, and Native American actors, directors, and writers.
- White directors are twice as likely as black directors to direct a film with a budget of $100 million or more.
As the primary producers of the content our country consumes, entertainment companies have an ethical and national obligation to ensure their products reflect the increasingly diverse communities they serve. But this is only possible through systematic change. This means long-term, action-oriented collaboration across sectors, as well as a strong ally that includes domestic and theater audiences, advocacy groups, trade associations, federal and local politicians and business leaders. Our resolution addresses this issue by supporting allied awareness campaigns in the entertainment industry and implementing diversity, equity and inclusion programs such as:
If you are an entertainment consumer, never forget that you also have a role to play in solving this pervasive problem. Many are influenced by what they see and consume. Television programs and films can inform and educate audiences by shaping and reinforcing cultural beliefs and attitudes about race, equality, justice, and fairness in our country and around the world.
From The Jefferson and P-Valley to Underworld, The Power Universe and everything in between, audiences will see and repeat their favorite lines and recreate memorable scenes. Without realizing it, they change their behavior, clothes, hopes, aspirations and dreams based on who and what they see. It is therefore increasingly important that these images reflect our society.
Members of Congress now have an opportunity to lead these charges, help make more inclusive content accessible to all generations, and increase viewer representation both on and off camera. We are grateful for the support of industry supporters and artists who have spoken out and taken positions on this issue, as we cannot hope to make any progress without their influence and influence. Through our continued shared desire to celebrate diverse voices and stories, we will.
We pass HR 1138 to declare the month of September National Leadership Entertainment and Arts through Diversity (LEAD) Month and make entertainment diversity the national priority it should be.
Yvette De Clarke represents the Ninth Ward of New York and is co-chair of the Multicultural Media Group.
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