top roles still white men

Hollywood has been promising to fix its diversity problems, but it still has a long way to go, according to a new study from the University of Southern California’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative. Since the pandemic, Hollywood’s recent diversity gains have either dipped or held steady.

  • Recovering lost ground on gender: In 2021, 41% of the top 100 movies featured a female lead or colead. In 2019, 43% of the top films had female stars, but this dropped to 36% during the pandemic. While Hollywood regained lost ground last year, it still has a lot of work to do on age: Only 7% of movies in the top 100 had a female lead age 45 or older compared to 27% for men.
  • Inching toward parity on race: People of color make up 40% of America’s population, but only 32% of the top 100 movies in 2021 had a person of color as the lead or colead. In 2007, the first year included in the study, only 13% of the top films had a non-white star. Diversity numbers have inched up since then, hitting an all-time high of 32% in 2019, but dipped to 28% in 2020.
  • Low numbers on gender and race: Only 11% of the top 100 films had a woman of color as a lead or colead in 2021, up 2% from 2020. By comparison, 23% had a leading man of color in 2021, roughly on par with 2020 when it was 22%. However, no films in 2021 or 2020 had a woman of color 45 or older as a star, and only 7% had a man of color 45 or older.

“Ultimately, until Hollywood distributors agree to push for more diverse storytelling across the board, we will not see sustained progress,” the researchers wrote.

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