Global Media Industries ASSIGNMENT Pick 2 of the following prompts. For each prompt you choose, craft a 4- to 5-page response.  The total length of the as

Global Media Industries ASSIGNMENT Pick 2 of the following prompts. For each prompt you choose, craft a 4- to 5-page response. 

The total length of the as

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Global Media Industries ASSIGNMENT Pick 2 of the following prompts. For each prompt you choose, craft a 4- to 5-page response. 

The total length of the assignment should be an 8- to 10-page, 12 point font, 1’’ margins document. March 2021

© Osato Dixon

Diversity and Inclusion Practice

Black representation in film and
TV: The challenges and impact
of increasing diversity
New research reveals the barriers that Black talent in the film and TV industry faces,
the economic fallout, and solutions for creating a more inclusive, equitable workplace.

by Jonathan Dunn, Sheldon Lyn, Nony Onyeador, and Ammanuel Zegeye

Movies and television are often an escape from
and a reflection of life unfolding. They also can play
an outsize role in shaping and reinforcing cultural
beliefs and attitudes about race, both in the United
States and internationally. Yet for the thousands of
people who toil in a range of on- and off-screen
positions in the sprawling film and TV industry,
movies and television are something much more
grounded—they are a job. And for Black
professionals trying to build and sustain a career in
film and TV, the industry has been, by many of their
accounts, a relatively unwelcoming workplace.

While a certain amount of progress has been made
with on-screen talent in recent years, and although
several entertainment companies are starting to
make strides toward diversity and inclusion, our new
analysis shows that inequity persists and is deeply
entrenched across the film and TV ecosystem.
Data on the levels of diversity and representation
on-screen have been available for several years.
But those numbers alone, as important as they are,
tell only one part of the story. We examined in detail
the racial complexities and challenges of this
dynamic workplace, analyzing the entire film and
TV ecosystem—including studios, networks,
production and streaming companies, and
distributors—through the lens of the individuals
who must navigate it: on-screen talent, as well as
off-screen writers, producers, directors, executives,
agents, crew members, and beyond.

We wanted to understand the lived experience of
Black professionals along the end-to-end journey of
content production and distribution, from applying
for an entry-level position or pitching new ideas to
shooting on location and distributing a finished
product. To shed light on the scale of the racial
disparities and the potential economic opportunity
in addressing them, we analyzed data and reviewed
multiple research reports on thousands of films and
TV shows. We also conducted anonymous interviews
with dozens of film and TV professionals, writers,
directors, producers, agents, actors, and executives,

enabling them to speak openly about the system-
level obstacles and routine indignities they
encounter (see sidebar “About the research”). We
collaborated in this research with the BlackLight
Collective, a coalition of Black leaders, artists, and
executives who work in varied capacities across the
film and TV industry. We hope that focusing on the
experiences of those who face so many barriers will
help spur solutions to improve the inclusivity of the
industry for all underrepresented groups.

Our findings, which build on and corroborate
McKinsey’s recent research on the Black experience
in corporate America, include the following:

— By addressing the persistent racial inequities,
the industry could reap an additional $10 billion
in annual revenues—about 7 percent more than
the assessed baseline of $148 billion.1 Fewer
Black-led stories get told, and when they are,
these projects have been consistently
underfunded and undervalued, despite
often earning higher relative returns than
other properties.

— The handful of Black creatives who are in
prominent off-screen, “above the line” positions
(that is, creator, producer, writer, or director) find
themselves primarily responsible for providing
opportunities for other Black off-screen talent.
Unless at least one senior member of a
production is Black, Black talent is largely shut
out of those critical roles.

— Emerging Black actors receive significantly
fewer chances early in their careers to make their
mark in leading roles, compared with white
actors, and they have a lower margin for error.

— Both film and TV still have very little minority
representation among top management and
boards; film in particular is less diverse than
relatively homogenous sectors such as energy,
finance, and transport.

2 Black representation in film and TV: The challenges and impact of increasing diversity

1 Based on 2019 industry revenues of $148 billion, which includes US-produced global theatrical box office, US streaming services, US cable,
and US broadcast; excludes sports and unscripted programming.

— A complex, interdependent value chain filled with
dozens of hidden barriers and other pain points
reinforces the racial status quo in the industry.
Based on our research, we catalogued close to
40 specific pain points that Black professionals
in film and TV regularly encounter as they
attempt to build their careers.

— There are four key steps that film and TV
companies can take to advance racial equity in
entertainment and beyond. These steps would
need to be cross-cutting and, ideally,
shepherded by an independent, third-party
organization that the industry creates.

Today, Black Americans make up 13.4 percent of the
US population, and that percentage will increase
over the next few decades.2 Just as the racial wealth
gap is constraining the US economy, the film and TV
industry will continue to leave money on the table if it
fails to advance racial equity (see sidebar “The value
of achieving racial equity in Hollywood”).

However, the unique characteristics of the film and
TV industry make achieving equity a complex,
system-level challenge. Tight-knit, interdependent
networks dominate the landscape; unlike in many
other industries, a single company’s efforts to
change the racial dynamic inside its own four walls
can do only so much for the entire ecosystem. In any
given week, let alone an entire career, a professional
working in Hollywood might have to traverse
multiple separate entities—agencies, unions and
guilds, studios, networks, production houses,
financiers, festivals, critics, and awards
establishments. At the same time, strong
accountability structures (uniformly enforced HR
processes and rules, for instance) and transparency
are lacking in many cases. Work settings can be
small and informal, including far-flung shooting
locations outside the United States; the work itself is
often temporary and contract based. In the same
way that collective action is needed to advance
racial equity in corporate America, real and lasting
change in film and TV will require concerted action
and the joint commitment of stakeholders across
the industry ecosystem.

Glance to exhibit

Exhibit number to glance

Exhibit 1

About the research

We applied a qualitative and quantitative
approach to assess the business case for
diversity in the film and TV industry.

To drive our primary analysis, we
established an initial fact base using
existing reports, including the University of
California, Los Angeles’s (UCLA) annual
Hollywood diversity report (2016–20) and
the Nielsen report Being seen on screen:
Diverse representation and inclusion on
TV (2020), as well as research from the
UCLA Center for Scholars & Storytellers

and the University of Southern California’s
(USC) Annenberg Inclusion Initiative.
From here, we leveraged extensive film
and TV data, including such sources as
Variety Insight by Variety Business
Intelligence, to draw additional conclusions
and to size the business opportunity for
increased diversity.

Separately, we conducted one-on-one
interviews with more than 50 Black and
non-Black industry participants across the
content ecosystem (such as studio

executives, producers, writers, directors,
agents, and funders) to better reflect their
lived experiences and to identify the critical
pain points in each step of the content-
creation process—from discovering
potential pitches all the way through
distribution and release.

It should be noted that all of the
interviewees were granted anonymity
so that they could speak openly about
their experiences without fear of
potential reprisal.

3Black representation in film and TV: The challenges and impact of increasing diversity

2 US Census Bureau.

Barriers that undermine equity in
content development, financing,
marketing, and distribution come at
a substantial cost to the film and TV
industry. We estimate that the film and
TV industry could unlock more than
$10 billion in annual revenues simply
by addressing these barriers, the
equivalent of a 7 percent expansion
in baseline industry revenues.

Glance to exhibit

Exhibit number to glance

Exhibit 1

The value of achieving racial equity in Hollywood

Barriers that undermine equity in content
development, financing, marketing, and
distribution come at a substantial cost to
the film and TV industry. We estimate that
the film and TV industry could unlock more
than $10 billion in annual revenues simply
by addressing these barriers, the
equivalent of a 7 percent expansion in
baseline industry revenues.1 Our estimates
are based on closing the representation
deficit for Black off-screen talent,
achieving production and marketing
budget parity, and giving Black-led

properties equal international distribution.
As noted elsewhere in the article, these
frictions that suppress industry revenues
are unjustified with respect to performance.

When viewed against some of our other
work on the value of diversity and inclusion,
$10 billion in revenue opportunity is
unsurprising.2 If anything, executives
should aspire for even higher upside,
including from diversity across all
underrepresented groups, as audiences
become more diverse and the growth in

demand for diverse content far outstrips
supply growth. For example, a recent
report from Creative Artists Agency and
Parrot Analytics found that the demand for
shows where at least 40 percent of the
cast is diverse (in line with the US Census
estimate for the nonwhite population) has
more than doubled in the last three years
(more than 112 percent), outpacing the
growth in the number of these shows that
have made it to air (more than 42 percent).3

1 Based on 2019 industry revenues of $148 billion, which includes US-produced global theatrical box office, US streaming services, US cable, and US broadcast; excludes
sports and unscripted programming.
2 Based on assessment from 1,000 large companies across the United States, companies in the top quartile on ethnic and cultural diversity outperform those in the fourth
by 36 percent in profitability. For more, see Sundiatu Dixon-Fyle, Kevin Dolan, Vivian Hunt, and Sara Prince, “Diversity wins: How inclusion matters,” May 19, 2020,
McKinsey.com. By closing the racial wealth gap, the US GDP could be 4 to 6 percent higher by 2028. For more, see Nick Noel, Duwain Pinder, Shelley Stewart, and
Jason Wright, “The economic impact of closing the racial wealth gap,” August 13, 2019, McKinsey.com.
3 Measuring what matters: The impact of talent diversity on audience demand for television, Creative Artists Agency and Parrott Analytics, October 2020, insights.
parrotanalytics.com.

4 Black representation in film and TV: The challenges and impact of increasing diversity

The state of Black representation
on- and off-screen
Black talent is underrepresented across the
industry, particularly off-screen (Exhibit 1). Our
research on positions of creative control reveals that
less than 6 percent of the writers, directors, and
producers of US-produced films are Black. In some
genres (the superhero genre, for example),
representation is even lower.

Our conversations with professionals in the field
reveal that Black talent tends to be shut out of

projects unless senior team members are Black.
The data show that films with a Black producer (only
8 percent of all US-produced films) or a Black
director (6 percent of all films) are significantly more
likely to have a Black writer. And if a film’s producer
is Black, the film is far more likely to have a Black
director, too (Exhibit 2). The same holds true in TV:
when a show’s creator is Black, it is much more likely
that the showrunner (the leading producer) is Black.
Specifically, more than four out of five shows with a
Black creator have a Black showrunner. However,
out of all showrunners, only 5 percent are Black.

Exhibit 1

Source: US Census Bureau; Variety Insight by Variety Business Intelligence, n = 4,616 talent, 2015–19

Black talent is underrepresented in �lm, particularly o�-screen.

Web 2021
BlackHollywood
Exhibit 1 of 9

Racial mix of on- and o�-screen talent in �lms released 2015–19, %

O�-screen talent

On-screen talent

Lead or co-lead

Black: 11

All others: 89

Directors

Black: 6

All others: 94

Supporting cast

Black: 14

All others: 86

Producers

Black: 6

All others: 94
Writers

Black: 4

All others: 96

US population

Black: 13

All others: 87
Black
All others

Black talent is underrepresented in film, particularly off-screen.

5Black representation in film and TV: The challenges and impact of increasing diversity

Black professionals are also severely
underrepresented in executive decision-
making roles throughout the industry (department
heads or top management, for example).
Eighty-seven percent of TV executives and
92 percent of film executives are white. The film
industry in particular remains disproportionately
white, even compared with such homogenous
sectors as energy and finance (Exhibit 3). This
underrepresentation extends to the buying side,
where Black distributors make up a small fraction
of the total.

The lack of Black executives in film and TV has
troubling knock-on effects throughout the industry.
For example, as one Black executive explained,

“Many former studio execs get production deals as
independent producers affiliated with the studio, so
whatever inequity is prevalent in the studios will
carry over to the mix of producers.”

As for the state of play in front of the camera,
the situation, while improving of late, remains
problematic. The prominence of certain films and
TV series with Black leads obscures the fact that
Black actors are still underrepresented on-screen.
While their overall representation among film casts
is broadly in line with the Black share of the US
population (13.4 percent), Black actors play only
11 percent of leading film roles and are often funneled
to race-related projects, which typically receive lower
investment in both production and promotion.

Exhibit 2

Source: Variety Insight by Variety Business Intelligence, n = 4,616 talent, 2015–19

Black o�-screen talent is primarily responsible for creating opportunities for
other Black o�-screen talent.

Web 2021
BlackHollywood
Exhibit 2 of 9

Racial mix of o�-screen talent based on race of �lm leadership, 2015–19, %

1+ Black
producers

No Black
producers

1+ Black
producers

No Black
producers

1+ Black
directors

No Black
directors

8% 92% 8% 92%
Share of all
�lms with
this pairing

Share of all
�lms with
this pairing

6% 94%
Share of all
�lms with
this pairing

Likelihood of a �lm having a
Black director based on whether
1 or more producers are Black:

Likelihood of a �lm having a
Black writer based on whether
1 or more producers are Black:

Likelihood of a �lm having a
Black writer based on whether
1 or more directors are Black:

58

42Black
director 

Non-Black
director

97

3

27

73Black
writer

Non-Black
writer

99

<1 70 30Black writer Non-Black writer 99 <1 Black off-screen talent is primarily responsible for creating opportunities for other Black off-screen talent. 6 Black representation in film and TV: The challenges and impact of increasing diversity TV presents a mixed picture: in 2019, about 14 percent of leads on cable programs were Black, but Black actors made up less than 12 percent of leads on broadcast shows. The share of streaming shows with Black leads—less than 5 percent in 2019—is less than half that of broadcast shows, and only a third of what it would be if it mirrored current demographics (Exhibit 4). While all three platforms have made some progress in terms of minority representation at large, streaming’s explosive growth makes its showing on diversity going forward particularly critical for the industry.3 Since we concluded our research, Netflix commissioned an independent report4 on inclusion in its content. This analysis by the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative highlights much higher on-screen representation in Netflix’s productions, with Black talent accounting for 15.2 percent of lead or co-lead roles across film and scripted series for the two-year period from 2018 to 2019.5 Still, the report also confirmed very low percentages of Black talent in above-the-line roles (creator, producer, writer, or director); Black above- the-line talent made up only 6.6 percent of those roles for films and 7.9 percent for scripted series across 2018 and 2019. Similar to the findings in our review of theatrical releases, these above-the-line roles had a profound multiplier effect on representation. When a Black creator was behind a Netflix series, for example, 72 percent of series regulars were Black, while only 15.4 percent were Black when a non-Black creator developed a series. The broad implication of this phenomenon is that Black creatives are carrying the weight of Black diversity and inclusion, or, as the report concluded more generally, “underrepresented creatives were primarily responsible for the on-screen inclusion in Netflix films.” Exhibit 3 1 Racial and gender-mix data for North American companies from McKinsey’s Women in the Workplace 2020 data set. 2Technology, media, and telecom less media and entertainment. 3 Darnell Hunt and Ana-Christina Ramón, Hollywood diversity report 2020: A tale of two Hollywoods, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), 2020; including only C-suite and senior executives and excluding unit heads. Source: David F. Larcker and Brian Tayan, Diversity in the C-suite, Stanford Graduate School of Business, April 2020; UCLA Hollywood diversity report 2020, n = 68; US Census Bureau; Women in the Workplace 2020, LeanIn.Org and McKinsey, 2020 The �lm and TV industry remains disproportionately white. Web 2021 BlackHollywood Exhibit 3 of 9 Racial and gender mix for C-suite executives, selected sectors,1 % Proportion that are white Proportion that are male 92 80Entertainment: Film3 91 82Energy/basic materials 90 82Transport/travel/logistics 88 72Finance 86 77 Entertainment: TV3 87 63 Consumer goods 85 79TMT less M&E2 82 80Heavy industry 82 78Healthcare Share of US population that is white: 60 Share of US population that is male: 49 The film and TV industry remains disproportionately white. 7Black representation in film and TV: The challenges and impact of increasing diversity 3 In addition, while the share of streaming debuts with diverse casts (those in which racial and ethnic minorities make up at least 40 percent of members) rose between 2017 and 2019, streaming still lags behind broadcast with regard to overall cast diversity. In 2019, slightly less than half of the top streaming debuts had diverse casts, compared with almost two-thirds of top broadcast debuts. 4 Stacy L. Smith et al., Inclusion in Netflix original U.S. scripted series & films, USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative and Netflix, February 2021, assets.uscannenberg.org. 5 The differences in diversity data across sources and reports in streaming in particular are not surprising, given the nascent state of tagging and tracking data for purposes of diversity and inclusion reporting. Barriers to entry Black talent faces a number of obstacles to entering film and TV at the outset, many of which are hidden or rarely acknowledged. Among these are financial and social barriers, as well as racial bias. Financial. Breaking into the industry is often only possible following years of work without pay or for pay that is insufficient to cover basic necessities (for instance, paying off student loans or supporting less well-off family members). As one white executive acknowledged, when talent is just starting out, work in the industry is “considered a privileged apprenticeship. The pay is sh*tty and, let’s be honest, that rules certain people out from the job.” McKinsey research has shown that there is a wide and persistent gap in wealth between Black and white families in the United States, with the median Black family having about $150,000 less than the median white family.6 The result: low or no pay excludes many Black Americans from Hollywood from the start. Work in the industry also tends to be temporary and contract based, making it less accessible to those who do not have personal savings, an inheritance, or family money to fall back on. Social. Our research underscores that jobs in the industry often go to insiders’ acquaintances or members of their extended networks, who tend to be overwhelmingly white and upper-class. As one white producer told us: “I got my first job because my boss went to Stanford. Whenever he had an opening, Exhibit 4 Source: Darnell Hunt and Ana-Christina Ramón, Hollywood diversity report 2020: Part 2: Television, University of California, Los Angeles, October 2020; US Census Bureau Although there is mixed progress, Black and other minority leads are still underrepresented in TV across platforms. Web 2021 BlackHollywood Exhibit 4 of 9 Racial mix of all leads in TV shows by distribution type, % 0 50 100 US population 201920192018 Broadcast 80.2 11.5 8.3 76.0 12.4 11.6 20192018 Cable 72.5 14.6 12.9 65.0 20.9 14.1 20192018 Streaming 80.5 60.1 26.5 13.412.8 6.7 75.9 19.4 4.7 Black  White All others Although there is mixed progress, Black and other minority leads are still underrepresented in TV across platforms. 8 Black representation in film and TV: The challenges and impact of increasing diversity 6 Nick Noel, Duwain Pinder, Shelley Stewart, and Jason Wright, “The economic impact of closing the racial wealth gap,” August 13, 2019, McKinsey.com. he’d send an email to the arts clubs of Harvard, Stanford, and Princeton.” Despite some progress in recent years, the majority of Black college students are not concentrated in a handful of elite universities. Without a formal search or recruitment process or an established protocol for hiring, industry access can come down to who you know. Racial bias. Our research points to a pattern of entrenched industry gatekeepers such as agencies, unions, and guilds responding more favorably to people who look, act, sound, and write like they do. As of 2015 (the most recent year for which data are available, though many industry participants say that modest progress has been made since then), about 90 percent of the agents and executive staff at the industry’s top three talent agencies were white. Across leads, writers, and directors, the share of Black talent at those same agencies was less than half the Black share of the US population. As one Black writer recounted, “Even though I was staff writing on a popular, well-received show, it was still tough to find an agent. Your average agent is a 50-year-old white guy…who never had to stretch to see [himself] in other people or spaces. So [such agents will] have a harder time representing people they don’t personally relate to.” It can be an equally difficult experience for the relatively small number of Black agents in the business. “I was one of few women and definitely few Black women there period, let alone in leadership, so there was no one to look up to,” one Black agent told us. “You learn to try not to take up too much space and speak only when you have something important to say. But then peers and others behind you get promoted ahead of you even when you are bringing more in.” Ongoing challenges Unfortunately, the challenges facing Black talent extend far beyond access and representation. Black professionals in film and TV face ongoing barriers and inequities, even once they’re “in the door.” Based on our interviews, we surfaced close to 40 pain points that these industry participants must endure throughout the entire content journey, from talent or idea discovery to the release of the film or TV series (Exhibit 5). Black professionals in film and TV face ongoing barriers and inequities, even once they’re ‘in the door.’ Based on our interviews, we surfaced close to 40 pain points that these industry participants must endure throughout the entire content journey, from talent or idea discovery to the release of the film or TV series. 9Black representation in film and TV: The challenges and impact of increasing diversity Getting fewer at bats Even for those who do get a real chance in the industry, Black professionals have much less room for failure than their white counterparts do. Black actors in particular tend to get fewer chances to break out or get ahead. In the first ten years of their careers, emerging Black actors get an average of six leading roles, while their white counterparts get nine (Exhibit 6). Having fewer opportunities also makes it harder for these actors to make ends meet; they often go two or three years between lead roles, which means they lack the consistent income that would help them stay in the industry. This experience is all too familiar for off-screen talent as well; selling a script or getting a project off the ground to direct or produce can often take years. Exhibit 5 Web 2021 BlackHollywood Exhibit 5 of 9 The lived experience of Black talent along the �lm and TV content journey reveals an ecosystem that reinforces the racial status quo. Each phase of the typical creation process for �lm and TV presents Black talent with a multitude of hidden barriers and other pain points. Journey Steps of the process Example pain points • Talent discovered, represented by agent(s) • Writer pitches idea to production company • Production company options pitch/script from writer • Hard to gain talent representation • Stalled projects— 90% of optioned work is shelved, hurting emerging talent • Black talent must often sell stories about personal truama to get ideas optioned • Pitches from Black talent generate lower rates • Lack of objective metrics and transparency in greenlighting process • Risk aversion and experience bias lowers interest in Black content • First look and overall deals often limit opportunity; unless very well-known, talent can be locked in without guarantee of production • Stereotypical assumptions of target audience that come from white executives are valued more than lived experiences of creators from that group • Black creators lack networks and sponsorship to build out team or secure e�ective funding • Impossible to be self-su�cient in production given cost structure • Pervasive assumption that “Black �lms don’t travel” • Teams lack racial diversity or relevant experiences, which limits marketing impact/reach • Lower ability to monetize e�orts— new and upcoming talent is given fewer pro�t/back- end-participation opportunities • Talent receives less recognition through awards, critical reporting, and/or festivals, which help in negotiating better deals • Crew is built through personal networks and not easily accessible for people without right connections • Lack of critical mass of Black crew creates blind spots and less accommodating work spaces • Small, informal sets often lack structure for e�ective issue escalation • Decision makers use generic breakdowns for roles, with default assumption that roles will be cast as white • Production company takes pitch to studio and/or network • Studio/network executive committees evaluate pitch • Writers/directors enter “�rst look” or overall deals to improve development chances • Studio greenlights can occur at several points in development process • Development team works with writer/ production to build out and �nalize story • Production company re�nes budget and schedule • Hires director, department heads, crew, and talent (if not already attached) • Director and director of photography �lm principal photography • Production company completes editing, music, and sound design • Marketing cuts creative …

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