State budget includes funding to support UCLA’s Hollywood Diversity Report
(Daily Bruin file photo)
Aug. 28, 2021 2:44 p.m.
UCLA’s Hollywood Diversity Report received state funding for the first time under the 2021-2022 California state budget, providing financial support for extended analysis of diversity in Hollywood television and film.
The Hollywood Diversity Report team produces two reports each year on diversity in Hollywood with a spring report focused on films and a fall report on television. The 2021 report is the eighth installment in the series of annual studies from UCLA’s Institute for Research on Labor and Employment.
In July, $250,000 of the 2021-2022 California state budget was allocated to the division of social sciences in the UCLA College of Letters and Science to support the annual report, said Wendy Carrillo, the California assembly member who sponsored the bill, in an emailed statement.
The division of social sciences’ Hollywood Advancement Project produces the report, which aims to analyze the diversity and representation in film and television, identify pipeline initiatives to increase representation and consider the impacts of increasing diversity and inclusion in the industry and media.
The diversity report debuted in 2014 and has since followed a similar method for analysis, said Darnell Hunt, dean of social sciences and the lead author of the report.
The report looks at film data for the top 200 global box office films but omits the non-English language films to identify hiring trends in Hollywood and what the subsequent impact is on the global box office, said Ana-Christina Ramón, the director of research and civic engagement for the division of social sciences and the co-author of the report.
One finding from this year’s report was that 2020 films written or directed by women had more diverse casts compared to their white male counterparts.
The 2021 spring report on films examined the top 200 films at the box office and on streaming platforms in 2020, Ramón said. The trends showed that larger blockbuster films expected to be released in 2020 were pushed to 2021 or 2022, which resulted in increased streaming of smaller films and a greater mix of independent films, she added.
The report also found that smaller films were more diverse and viewers were still drawn to them, Ramón said. She added that the report showed that films with diverse casts were profitable.
“So regardless of … whether (viewers) see it in the theater or at home, they want to see this kind of diverse content,” she added.
The change in 2020 showed that things are becoming more diverse, said Hunt, who is also a professor of sociology and African American studies.
“The big question is when will things behind the camera begin to follow … directors, executives, that type of thing,” Hunt added. “That’s the area that’s really going to be a challenge for the industry I think because it hasn’t done a very good job of diversifying the camera.”
This increase in funding from the state will also help the report expand further, Ramón said. In previous years, sponsors helped support the Hollywood Advancement Project and its diversity report, she added. For the future, the project plans to use the funding to expand the data to include streaming services, support the students they hire to streamline the analysis process and help pay for the data.
“This funding definitely helps us be able to expand the report as needed because it requires a lot of labor. It’s a lot of labor-intensive work, and so…the funding will help us hire more students,” Ramón said.
The funding is part of a larger investment from the state in Hollywood, in addition to Senate Bill 144, to bring together state increases to the current film and television tax incentive program with equity workforce plans and diversity reflective of the state in film and television, Carrillo said.
Carrillo said the Hollywood Diversity Report holds the data needed to effect change.
“Film and television are part of California’s DNA, and representation matters,” Carrillo added.
Contributing reports from Genesis Qu, editor in chief.