Times are a changing! Audiences and celebrities are showing their disgust over not having proper representation on screen and the call for change has never been louder. But is Hollywood finally ready to listen and fix a problem that has been plaguing it for years?
While the conversation of diversity in film has been around for a very long time, the reprise of #OscarsSoWhite for the second year created a media firestorm. The situation of having nothing but all white nominees in every major acting category for two years running is just a symptom of a larger issue. But it ignited a conversation about diversity on screen that has everyone giving their opinion on how to fix the problems.
When I hear people complain about Hollywood not having any original ideas or that the same stories keep being retold over and over, it always gets me thinking about how stories could be told differently by just simply mixing up the cast. While Hollywood is acknowledging the problem with diversity in films, it always seems that the quick fix is adding diversity to smaller roles and not letting that diversity shine in the leads. While giving his opinion on the issue, Tom VanDerWerf had this to say:
Diversity, in short, isn't about simply including as many nonwhite men as possible. It's about acknowledging that white men don't have a lock on good stories, and letting others' stories be told as well as possible.
It's easy to put the blame of the underrepresentation of women and people of color solely on the shoulders of the Academy, but it's just not that simple. I believe the problem starts and ends with the casting process and the opportunity.
One way that has at least worked on television is by using a blind casting process. Showrunner Shonda Rhimes is well known for using such a process to cast her original prime time hit "Grey's Anatomy"."When I cast the pilot of Grey's, Shonda didn't give anybody a last name,” Rhimes’s casting director Linda Lowy said. “She just said, 'Linda, I want you to cast it the way you see the world.'" Now with three shows under her belt, Shonda has some of the most diverse casts on television today.
Studios and filmmakers are slowly catching on that if audiences see themselves in well-written characters that don't fall into the realm of being stereotypical, it's a winning situation for all.
As we saw with the success of films like Furious 7 and Star Wars: The Force Awakens last year, having diverse leading actors and actresses can lead to great success. You not only get people returning to see these characters in repeat viewings, you also are a part of change that is well overdue.