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Reflections On The Diversity Problem In The Film Industry

Image from the film "Do The Right Thing" by Spike Lee
Angel Marilia 9 September 2020

Boundless Op-Eds: Identity Politics

As a young black woman, it is undeniably challenging to find people that look like me in the creative industry. There is a lack of diversity when it comes to people of colour working on a set or being cast for main roles in theatre/television.

Diversity promotes inclusion. It appeals to a larger audience and gives people a chance to learn about different cultures. However, even though with all the success and benefits from content with diversity, the creative industry is still scarred of producing anything that’s not mainstream.

 

“I remember attending a network meeting earlier this year, where I met a woman who is a recruiter for the BBC. She explained that they acknowledge that their company is formed by mostly this particular group of middle-class people who tend to all go to the same universities, read the same books, watch the same plays”

I remember attending a network meeting earlier this year, where I met a woman who is a recruiter for the BBC. She explained that they acknowledge that their company is formed by mostly this particular group of middle-class people who tend to all go to the same universities, read the same books, watch the same plays etc. Therefore, they would only hire people who look like them, making harder for working-class people to break into the industry. They only produce content that is appealing to them and it’s not outside of their comfort zone.

From my experience as a creative, one thing I keep noticing while I try to find opportunities for myself is that there seems to be enough room in the industry for mediocre male produced content. Men don’t tend to be judged as much when putting content out. Women don’t have the same opportunity. We have to work 3 times as hard in a very unique and almost genius way to “prove” us a point.

‘Men are assessed for their potential while women are assessed by what they’ve already achieved.’

Resilience and endurance are the key words to survive in this industry. It is undeniably easy to get discouraged by the rejection and realisation of how hard it is to have credibility. If we look at “BAME” and breakdown the statistics, it shows that we are representing 7-10 percent. What people don’t realise is that in fact, the statistics don’t reflect the number of minorities in the creative business but they show the number of minorities hired by the production companies and the ones that are getting credits for it.

Then I ask myself, are the decision makers/executives capable of working out of their comfort zones, take risks and give space to new content creators?

The answer is yes although it requires a change in the value of interests between the producers and the consumers.

When film, tv and theatre started it was led by fearless creatives who took risks and were constantly innovating. Throughout the years it became predictable and influenced by its mega-profit blockbusters, enabling unknown talent to be shown.

For years and years, the industry assumed movies featuring minorities as lead roles wouldn’t profit and although “Black Panther” and “Crazy Rich Asians” are huge box office successes, it barely gets recognition as a game-changer.

To break the cycle, studio executives need support all the way from creatives, content producers and aspiring filmmakers from the BAME community. WE ARE HERE. WE EXIST. WE ARE PLENTY. DON’T UNDERESTIMATE US.

Bring diverse high-level executive talent to the table and see the numbers grow with renewed streams and a wide range of recognised, successful, credited, diverse talent.

 

 

 

Angel Marilia is a freelance writer and content creator.

IG @angelthemarilia 

Twitter @angelmar1lia

‘Reflections On The Diversity Problem In The Film Industry’ is a Boundless Ideas commission for 15-25 year olds to write opinion led pieces that speak to themes of Politics, Identity and Theatre.