Questions Remain About Diversity in Hollywood

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Hollywood has been in the midst of a nearly yearlong effort to avoid another round of unflattering #OscarsSoWhite headlines, and the triumph of Moonlight in the best drama category at the Golden Globes suggests that the industry may have turned a page. But it remains an open question whether the film business has learned its lesson when it comes to diversity.

After two straight years in which no performers of color were nominated in the top acting categories, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences made both cosmetic and systematic changes. In addition, several high-profile projects with predominantly Black casts, like Moonlight, are poised to break through this year.

The African-American Film Critics Association declared 2016 the best year for Blacks in cinema “ever.”  The Academy Award nominations serve as a milestone for Hollywood to show whether it will reverse the trend that led to boycotts and intense criticism last year.

The premise is that despite the industry’s liberal reputation, there is a still a lack of appreciation and representation of minorities both in front of and behind the camera, as well as in studio boardrooms. A study by researchers at the University of Southern California last year found that only about a third of speaking roles in films and on TV from 2007 to 2014, were female, while only 28 percent non-white.

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