Has Hollywood Really Become More Diverse?

Melanie Villasenor, Staff Writer

More and more actors are being cast for films in recent years as an effort to demonstrate to the public that diversity does exist in Hollywood. This topic has become even more relevant in people’s discussions due to the nominations during the 2016 and the 2017 award seasons. Yet the the question still remains: “Is Hollywood indeed becoming more diverse or is the entertainment industry simply portraying diversity amongst its casts and nominations in order to brush off critics?”

We can’t know for certain what Hollywood’s intentions are, but we can find out what the public sees, and what their thoughts are about this issue. I’ve asked the students of Birmingham Community Charter High School for their feedback on this topic. These are their responses.

Jessie Villarreal, a high school senior at Birmingham, expresses that, in her opinion,“It’s always been diverse. There are many different actors that are not all white who have been in many great movies.” Some would agree that there hasn’t been much change to Hollywood’s castings; there has always been a great variety of actors from all sorts of cultures and skin tones. However, others would highly disagree. As another student who wished to remain anonymous shares, “I think it’s long overdo, we need more people of color winning awards and producing the art instead of just having one race conquer it.”

In a study conducted by the Bunche Center’s researchers,  it shows that diverse films performed better at the global box office and also receive higher ratings. Some of these highly successful films are Creed, Dope, Straight Outta Compton, Furious 7 .

Besides great feedback, social media has also had a huge impact in recent years in terms of enhancing the amount of diversity in the entertainment industry. For instance, #OscarsSoWhite has been heavily trending throughout every social media. This year, the producers of The Academy Awards made a slight change of their usual “so-white Oscars” with having 6 out of 20 top actor and actress nominated performers being black, but there is still plenty of room for even more change on Hollywood sets.

Hollywood, being a place where you go to make your “dreams come true,” is not usually seen as being racist. British writer Nikesh Shuklaand speaks about his experience, “I realized that white people think that people of color only have ethnic experiences and not universal experiences.”  In the world of hate over race, you would believe that this distant city (Hollywood) would accept anyone with welcoming arms. That’s not always the case for everyone, as people of color struggle every day to get the recognition they deserve. They should indeed receive more praise for their hard work, not only from the Oscars, but other highly-respected awards as well.      

The slow progress from having an all-white Hollywood scene to having increases in people of color has been a great achievement–yet, with a slight push to a greater tomorrow, Hollywood will be a place where anyone can become successful without being judged on their skin tone.