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Progress is glacial, but it's happening

Another new study has hit the week of Oscars with unsurprising news: Women and people of color are making gains in Hollywood, but it’s still too slow.

According to “Hollywood Diversity Report 2020: A Tale of Two Hollywoods, Part 1,” released Thursday by UCLA’s Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, people of color continued an upward trend, nabbing 27.6% of lead roles in top films for 2019.

But that’s still far shy of their U.S. population equivalent of 40.2%, and minorities “remained underrepresented on every industry employment front,” according to the report.

Women, too, have also made meaningful progress in the film world, according to the report, posting gains among film leads, directors, writers, actors and studio heads. Women accounted for 44.1% of the leads in top films for 2019, nearly closing the gender gap.

Cynthia Erivo is nominated for best actress for her role in

Yet behind the camera is a different story, with people of color and women remaining “severely underrepresented” as directors.

Hollywood as a whole continues to not reflect the U.S. population. Look who’s in charge: Heads of studios were found to still be 91% white and 82% male, according to the UCLA report. 

“Decisions about what types of films to make, how large a budget to assign to them, how they will be marketed, and who will be at the directorial helm are all made by the men and women who occupy Hollywood’s executive suites,” the report says. “In early 2020, these decisions continued to be dominated by white men at the 11 major and mid-major studios.”

American audiences are increasingly diverse, and prefer diverse film content, the study says, having examined the top 200 theatrical films released in 2018 and 2019, ranked by global box office.

The UCLA study is the seventh in a series of annual reports to examine relationships between diversity and the bottom line in the Hollywood entertainment industry.

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