Hollywood’s Exclusion Of Black Writers Is Depressingly Obvious In New Study

Photo: Alfonso Bresciani/Warner Bros.
A new report commissioned by Color of Change seems to show that Hollywood still has a long way to go in terms of diversity in writer's rooms. The report, performed by UCLA sociology professor Darnell Hunt, found that almost two-thirds of scripted TV shows in the 2016-2017 season didn't have a single Black writer, as Deadline reports.
Of the scripted shows produced in 2016 and 2017, only 17% had more than one Black writer. Even fewer had a Black showrunner — only 5%.
The study concluded that the "major networks" have failed "to meaningfully increase opportunity for Black writers and other writers of color.”
According to the report, part of the problem is that diversity programs within networks often provide writers of color to network TV shows as "free of charge" for the first year or two. When these writers suddenly require salaries, they are dropped from the lineup.
The report explains, "This cycle gives a false appearance of inclusion, while actually limiting the ability of a critical mass of writers of color to build seniority over time and gain influence in the industry."
The report suggests a few modes for progress. For starters, networks must set "public goals" to promote diversity. This way, they can be held accountable for these goals.
The report adds, "Networks and showrunners must develop a more regular and credible process and set of protocols for engaging outside expert groups when sensitive issues are at play, especially when they remain below a basic threshold for inclusion in their writers’ rooms."
A few exceptions, such as OWN's Queen Sugar, or HBO's Insecure, have diverse writing staffs, but the report notes that these do not obfuscate the need for diversity across the board.
"While shows like Queen Sugar and Insecure boast diverse writers’ rooms and stand out as powerful examples of progress, the industry as a whole is failing," the report reads.
According to the report, the network with lowest levels of diversity is AMC, with Amazon not far behind.
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