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In the midst of social justice movements, employers across the country are vowing to change their policies and develop better diversity and inclusion practices, but turning PR statements in to real change we can quantify is a bigger task.
In 2018, TV Time conducted a global study asking users who their favorite characters were.
“While there is an increase in the number of actors that are chosen as favorites who are persons of color, the numbers are still small. In 2017, there were 18 characters of color in the top 100. But there was only one character of color in the top 10 for 2017 and 2016 and none in 2015,” according to the TV Time study.
So is this just a PR stunt? Or will we really see a change in what we see on television?
Some of the initiatives put in place by these major networks feel more like ways to suppress or hush up the community. It’s left me skeptical– but one thing I do know is there is a need for change.
In the television industry, African-Americans have been severely underrepresented. Black actors do a great job representing us, but still, is it enough?
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In television’s early days, you saw a few Black-centered television shows like “Good Times,” “227,” and “The Cosby Show.” Over the years, shows such as these evolved to fit the generation — “Girlfriends,” “Everybody Hates Chris,” and “The Game.”
Fast forward to present day, and there a Black producers casting Black actors for primetime television– “Shonda Rhimes (“Scandal”), Kenya Barris (“black-ish”) and Lee Daniels (“Empire”) are a few of the Black producers who have proven to be powerful forces in the TV arena, while Kerry Washington, Viola Davis, Shemar Moore, Terrence Howard, Anthony Anderson and Tracee Ellis Ross are among the numerous Black performers who have headed hit series,” according to The LA Times.
But when you look at the bigger picture, these shows are only a blip on the radar for television schedules.
The LA Times went on to say, each network has come under fire for a variety of concerns, including predominantly white prime-time schedules, stereotypical images, and charges of exclusion, discrimination and racism.
The disparities are also blatantly apparent in awards shows. Viola Davis called for more diversity and inclusion in the industry while accepting her 2015 Emmy for Best Drama Series Lead Actress.
In her speech, Davis says, “Let me tell you something. The only thing that separates women of color from anyone else, is opportunity. You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there.”
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