Hollywood's diversity writers, actors worry industry cutbacks will mean less focus on 'minority representation'

Amid industry cutbacks, diversity writers worry minority representation could be first on the chopping block.

Libby Emmons Brooklyn NY
Hollywood, apparently, is in turmoil. This year saw a writers strike and an actors strike, both of which did damage to the Hollywood brand by simply preventing content from getting from studio to screen, and the push toward woke content and increased "representation" has led to a decline in viewership. 

Studios are "expected to produce far fewer shows," the Washington Post reports, which is "raising fears there will be fewer opportunities for minority actors and inclusive storylines." Scripted shows across platforms, from broadcast networks to streaming services to cable, could be cut by as much as half. Last year, some 600 shows aired.

Yet for the writers and actors who want to make this content, this is all a function of racism. It's unclear who is racist in this scenario, the studios who have paid out gobs of cash to make this content or the viewers who don't want to see it. But the fears of diversity creators are real, even as California has required the industry to implement diversity measures and has used tax breaks to get their way.

NBC reported that after the writers' strike was concluded, diversity writers were concerned that diversity was not directly addressed in talks. Instead, the contract agreements reached were about the economic viability of the industry.

This led some writers to be "troubled by what they see as institutional bias after several diversity initiatives suffered during cost-cutting this year." It was after the death of George Floyd in 2020 that studios ramped up their diversity efforts, but per The Guardian, those efforts have fallen flat in 2023, with representation going back to 2019 levels. The Writers Guild of America said that minority writers are underrepresented.

One writer told WaPo that the "industry contraction will make it harder to sell shows about marginalized communities." Although if the shows about marginalized communities were smash hits, it's likely this would not be an issue. For Carter Covington, the potential lack of shows on minority lifestyles is really due to studios being "more risk averse," which happens when "people want hits."

Actress Kyra Jones told WaPo that Hollywood studios may be caving to an anti-wokeness nationwide, in which content consumers have pushed back against the constant barrage of progressive political messaging on race, gender, climate change, and whatever other Current Thing studios want to force down Americans' throats.

In Jones' view, this is a bad thing. "That feedback is pushing us more and more toward … White, straight, conservative America," she said. "That’s not what I write. That’s not what most minority writers are interested in creating. So sometimes it feels like there is a sanitation of what we’re creating."

Executives didn't want to go on the record, but the ones WaPo spoke to, two, were divided. One said that studios would have ot be "more picky about the products they produce and that means going straight down the middle, and less risk-taking on projects and even performers." Another said that diversity representation is "good for business," and so doesn't envision cutbacks in that area.

That has turned out to not be the case for Disney, which has gone fully woke. They were recently forced to admit that wokeness has been bad for business. Female superhero-centric films have bombed. Their latest animated feature, Wish, featuring an Afro-Latina heroine, flopped fully at the box office.

And their adaptation of Snow White, slated to hit theaters this year, has been pushed back amid rumors that the story will be revamped to more accurately portray the 1937 version of the film as opposed to the girl power, dwarf-free monstrosity that they went into production with.
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