Report: Black representation up, but Asian, Latino and Native people still underrepresented on TV

diversity study

Asian Americans are the fastest-growing racial or ethnic group in the U.S. but remain underrepresented on screen along with Latinos, while Native Americans are “virtually invisible,” according to the findings of a new study.

Findings: The UCLA Hollywood Diversity Report of the 2019-2020 TV season released on Tuesday found that there was an increase in people of color and women, both on-screen talent and writers, on shows released by broadcast, cable and streaming services.

  • Scripted broadcast TV acting roles for people of color jumped to 43.4%, surpassing their demographic makeup at 42.7%.
  • Black and multiracial roles showed improvement, but Latino, Asian American and Native Americans remain underrepresented, according to the report.
  • Shows in which people of color were between 31% and 40% of the credited writers earned the highest median ratings.
  • Median ratings for white, Latino and Asian American households increased for scripted cable shows that had 41% to 50% people of color, while ratings for Black households increased for shows with “majority-minority casts,” the study found.
  • Credited writers of color on broadcast episodes increased from 23.4% to 26.4%; 25.8% to 28.6% on cable; 22.8% to 24.2% on streaming services.

Methodology: Ana-Christina Ramón, co-author of the report and a UCLA social sciences research director, says the underrepresentation remains because the TV industry remains disproportionately white and executives consider the ethnicities listed above as “very niche.”

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  • “I think they oftentimes think of stories from Latinx creators and Asian American creators as something really quite peripheral…. and not appealing to the quote-unquote mainstream,” she was reported by the Associated Press as saying.
  • The study tracked 461 scripted shows across 50 broadcast, cable and streaming services to find progress made by people of color and women working as actors, writers, directors and series creators.
  • Most of the improvements “can be attributed to women of color.” While men of color rose among broadcast credited writers, they “treaded water in cable and digital.”

Featured Image via (from left) FX Networks, HBO, Netflix, Comedy Central

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