Diversity is a major issue within the entertainment industry. With major callouts every year from film creatives and celebrities, industry award shows have not changed their ways when choosing a winner for their major categories. The Oscars, Emmys, Academy Awards, Golden Globes are some of the award shows that have lacked showcasing diversity among their winners. Many critics have speculated that there is a structural issue happening within those award organizations, especially since these issues have been called out for some time and nothing has changed.
The recent Emmy Awards Show took a step forward this year with announcing a wide range of diverse nominees for all categories but failed to award any POC actors. The creator and main cast of the FX on Hulu comedy series “Reservation Dogs” used their Emmy stage time to talk about the importance of authenticity for Indigenous representation on screen. According to NBC News, after analyzing the Emmys from the past 10 years it showed that nearly 80 percent of acting nominations were white performers. Through research it showed that 15 percent of nominations went to African American performers, 3 percent to Latinos, 2 percent to Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and 1 percent to those of Middle Eastern or Northern African descent. This data clearly shows that there is a huge inequality for award winners. These actions have led the public to question Hollywood’s ability to celebrate the industry’s excellence fairly. The organizations that vote for these awards seem to rely on other factors to choose a nominee rather than the performance. This leads to a systematic issue that doesn’t allow all artists in the film industry to be fully appreciated for the role that they play.
Many industry leaders have spoken out about this and believe these recent changes are good. Frank Scherma, the chairman of the Television Academy that awards the Emmys said during the show, “It’s so great to see that television and the stories we tell are finally becoming a reflection of every part of our society. Voices of Black, Latinx, Asian American, and Indigenous creators, along with the LGBTQIA+, neurodiverse and disabled communities are being heard by larger audiences than ever before.” Television and movie watchers have long demanded more diversity in the stories that are portrayed on screen. On the same note, television show creators and artists from underrepresented communities have been asking to get more opportunities to tell their story. Award winners gain exposure that can help POC continue telling their stories.
Even though steps have been taken in the right direction, there is still more to be done. Not only do we need more diverse winners, but the award presenters need to be diverse as well. With the many years of disappointment from these award shows, Hollywood needs to keep their promise to their artists, audiences and industry to “do better” on diversity in media, entertainment, and awards.
Guenevere Chin is a senior at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) studying advertising and marketing communications. She is a member of FIT’s PRSSA Chapter, the Asian Student Network and Film Club. She has interned at H&S Communications Agency and Zit Sticka in New York. She would like to work in the entertainment industry in public relations and eventually become a film director to tell stories, show the world her perspective and most importantly inspire others. Connect with her on LinkedIn.