What do Hollywood actors Ryan Gosling and Ryan Reynolds have in common besides their name? Their whiteness.
Popular movies have underrepresented people of color while focusing more on characters of white descent.
In 2015, University of Los Angeles’s Bunche Center for African American Studies released a report showing that whites made up 62.6 percent of the total United State’s population; however, they made up 73 percent of speaking or named movie roles in 2013.
African Americans were somewhat under-represented. They made up 13.2 percent of the total United State’s population; however, they made up 12.5 percent of speaking or named roles.
Sadly, Hispanics and Latinos were practically eliminated from films. They made up 4.9 percent of roles in films; however, they made up 17.1 percent of the total United State’s population.
In 2014, among the top 100 movies, 40 movies featured no Asian speaking characters.
Moreover, only 17 out of the top 100 movies in 2014 had a lead or co-lead with a racial or ethnic minority background.
The casting of whites over people of color may be occurring due to the lack of non-white writers and directors.
Among the top 100 movies of 2014, there were 107 directors, yet just five of them were black. Over seven year’s worth of top 100 films, the rate of black directors is just 5.8 percent.
The rate is even lower for Asian directors. There were only 19 of them across the 700 top movies from 2007-14, and only one identified as a woman.
Today, research shows that 84.9 percent of movie directors of theatrical films were white in 2019.
It was also revealed that 86.1 percent of movie writers for theatrical films were white, leaving just 13.9 percent of movie writer roles filled by people of color.
People of color may be cast less because of small number of non-white writer and directors. However, that should not affect movies. Directors of any race should be open to a diverse cast. Also, if a cast is diverse it should not be celebrated, it should be considered as a norm because America itself is a diverse country.
The lack of diversity in movies plays a powerful role in how we perceive the people in our society. For example, certain ethnicities are represented in popular media based on stereotypes and not portrayed accurately. As a result we, as a society, tend to marginalize and caricature minorities. This leads us to see a limited and misrepresented view of others.
Growing up as an Afghan girl, the people in my community believed the stereotypes the mass media portrayed, causing those around me to believe my skin was dirty and that I had weapons and bombs hiding in my house because they saw cultural engravings in my native language. Because of that, I would tear down those engravings whenever my friends came over. Moreover, I would scrub my skin harder in the shower, straighten my hair, and abandon my culture to blend in with my peers and to get away from those stereotypes.
Most Caucasians have positive role models such as Ariel and Cinderella. Those are the characters who said it is okay to be yourself and to be true to yourself. However, I had terrorists who represented me. No matter what Ariel and Cinderella preached, it did not apply to me. I always questioned how I looked and my worth because of that.
There should be more non-white characters in films. The lack of diversity has caused me to question my sense of worth. Sadly, there are more individuals like me. Those individuals create groups and eventually a whole society of people feel like they are not worthy enough.
Every group of individuals has its own culture and we shouldn’t have to question how we look, dress and act. Movies should include more diversity so people of color have someone to look up to and realize people who look like them matter.