3 White Women Leading Top Box-Office Films Doesn’t Feel Like A Win To Me

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For the past four years, the highest grossing movies in Hollywood have starred women. In 2013, it was Jennifer Lawrence with the Hunger Games follow-up, Catching Fire. And in 2014, Lawrence did it again with Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1. A different franchise took over in 2015 and brought another strong female lead with it. Daisy Ridley helped Star Wars: The Force Awakens gross over $936 million at the box office. An animated woman stole the show in 2016’s Finding Dory, with the lead voiced by Ellen DeGeneres. BuzzFeed shares these statistics as a feat in an industry where men represent 84% of protagonists in top-grossing films over the same four-year timeframe. They also noted that Lawrence, DeGeneres, and Ridley are part of the 75% of female characters that are white in top-grossing films. How many more years of these statistics do we need until women of color are represented in the best of the big screen? Are inclusion and diversity so daunting that entertainment executives think they can only address one at a time, over a very slow period? I don't buy it. I can’t help but be reminded of Patricia Arquette’s naive demand that LGBT people and people of color need to go to bat for the rights of women in Hollywood, as if those same communities do not also include women who advocate on behalf of themselves all the time. While Arquette wants to make sure that she can negotiate a fair wage at a table full of men, women of color are still vying for their seat at the table. Gabrielle Union, Taraji P. Henson, and Viola Davis are just as talented as Lawrence, Ridley, and DeGeneres. I’ll congratulate the film industry when we can have an honest conversation about why they’re still strangely absent from the biggest box-office hits.

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