The underrepresentation of people of color in decision-making and creative positions means that ethnic characters’ storylines “may lack authenticity or will be written stereotypically or even ‘raceless,’” Ana-Christina Ramon, a co-author of the report, said in a statement.
Women, at slightly more than half the population, represented 28.6% of online series creators, 28.1% in broadcast and 22.4% in cable. While they made gains in those and most other on- and off-camera jobs, they remain underrepresented in nearly all.
The study, which examined 453 scripted broadcast, cable and online TV shows from the 2017-18 season and 463 such shows from 2018-19, found that people of color on-screen are collectively approaching proportional representation.
“We’ve come a long way in that regard” from UCLA’s first study of the 2011-12 season, Hunt said.
But the advances are lopsided when examined by ethnicity. African American actors have led the way in inclusion for more than a decade, Hunt said, while Latinos are consistently underrepresented, Native Americans have been “virtually invisible” and Asian American numbers ebb and flow.
Middle Eastern and North African inclusiveness has been on the rise.
“But we’re not saying anything about the quality of the images, because in some cases inclusion can be a bad thing for those groups because we’re taking about stereotypical images,” he said. “That’s another topic.”
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