A Truth About Diversity and Inclusion in Hollywood

Transcript from the ‘Hollywood, Unapologetic!‘ episode, written by Orlando Delbert.

The purpose of ‘Hollywood, Unapologetic!’ is to positively empower one another and to empower our industry. It is important to engage in discussions that will initiate constructive lines of thought in the hopes to get young people to become thought leaders and to create a positive voice for themselves, their communities, and one another.

Our industry needs this. Our communities need this. Our world needs this. Which is why I wanted to speak a little bit about the lack of diversity in Hollywood’s hiring practices.

There is no question this has received a lot of attention, especially since the Academy Awards received a lot of attention for the choices in their nominations, which in turn saw a surge in the Oscars Not So White hash tag hitting social media. But there is A TRUTH ABOUT DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION IN HOLLYWOOD that has not been getting nearly enough attention.

As I was doing research, I found many articles online and websites that took a stand on one side of the issue over another. Many were written from an emotional viewpoint or just downright hatred for a certain director or set of actors that were viewed as sellouts to the “white-Jewish male-driven” studios and “their” producers.

Pollyanna’s Tear Soaked Battlefields of Hollywood: A Survival Guide Against the Cynicism and the Hypocritical

Many had little, if any, data to back up their arguments, and many more of them were not written by someone with an in-depth working knowledge of the Hollywood backstory, nor of someone who has actually worked in the “Hollywood trenches” and saw first hand the business practices of the studios and networks.

On the other hand, information from the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African Studies at UCLA and other groups have created reports based on comparisons between top theatrical motion picture releases, television programming, and other distribution platforms with how they relate to the make up of our country’s populace.

These are great and powerful tools, but all too often what hasn’t received enough focus is how the networks and studios make their business decisions and what they are based upon. Not too mention the many other productions that don’t fall under the scrutiny of these groups, because they are not the top box office grossers.

Even with the attack towards the motion picture academy, many did not take the time to learn the Academy Awards are a representation of motion pictures only, and not of the motion picture business. They are two very different subjects. Nor did many take into account it takes years for any production to get made. This is important to point out because the thing that many aren’t addressing is the simple fact that Hollywood does and will always follow the money.

To put it simply, the expenses involved in many Hollywood motion pictures today are so high, the business machines simply want to minimize their financial risk. This is why you see so many of the same types of projects, remakes, sequels, prequels, re-imaginings, and even the fracturing of existing brands in the pursuit of the commodification of Hollywood.

This is also why you see a lot of the same talent featured on screen, even to play characters of ethnicities they don’t fit. This is because the safe bet for their financial return is on someone who has made money consistently. This is not about white privilege or anything else other than about money.

I know by me saying what I just did is going to give me crap by some. But the bottom line is, I know first hand that distributors have a very short list of questions they ask to base their investment dollars on. They are interested ONLY in their return, not in you or I. They don’t care about causes. They don’t care about anything other than their return.

Yes, there is bias in regards to someone’s race, sex, age, and sexual preference, in the many corners of the entertainment industry. But the one thing that has been consistent is Hollywood’s love affair with the color green.

The handfuls of bigots in this industry are in no way a reflection of everyone in the “business of show”. To think that is quite small-mindedness and limiting of your own potential.And that is the point. Far too many people are busy pointing fingers and inciting hatred towards others, instead of offering a positive solution, or at least showing a willingness of a dialogue to move any issue forward.To give an example, I stumbled across a website that showed photographs of actors and directors in public places, designed entirely with a slant on hatred of Jewish people, regardless of whether the person in the photograph was Jewish or not. It attacked everyone, regardless of race, color, sex, and religion, simply because they were viewed as being part of the “Jewish Hollywood machine”.

How is that in any way productive?

You and I have to pay our dues over and over again. This is something a lot of people don’t want to acknowledge, nor even accept. This is something seen more and more with young people. This just feeds into the high amount of negativity we see today in this world.And thanks to social media, many now have a voice and like to stir shit up simply because they can. These individuals are a far cry from offering any kind of productive contributions to move any issue forward. They just want to entice hatred because it’s much easier to do than it is to work for something for everyone’s common good.

So here is a challenge I have for you. If you are concerned about the hiring practices, opportunities, and the struggle for racial and gender parity in America, what are you going to do about it? You know the television networks and motion picture studios will follow the money, how will you tap into that?

All of the points made by so many on these issues, regardless of the validity, miss the simple point of we all need to create the projects we want, hire the people we want, and base it on the individual’s talents and willingness to be inclusive of one another. This should not to be based on just someone’s ethnic background, sex, age, sexual preference, the shoes they’re wearing today or the car they drive, because for us to get beyond this, we have to work as one. It truly is that simple.

Our roles as content creators come with a responsibility because many identify with Hollywood as being the face of America. Really give that some thought.Many cultures around the world identify with the products offered by the Hollywood machine as a strong representation of whom we are and what we’re about. So, doesn’t it make sense to create the projects and the roles of true substance that are of a positive voice, not just because any group of people may be considered marginalized by some?

To achieve true diversity, we have to encourage one another to be inclusive of one another. And I say inclusive, not tolerant. They have very different meanings. And being inclusive is also having a willingness to have a dialogue that is far greater than just hiring a certain director or set of actors. It also has to do with hiring those behind the camera, the production assistants, the grips and electrical men and women, the writers, everyone.

Pollyanna’s Tear Soaked Battlefields of Hollywood: A Survival Guide Against the Cynicism and the Hypocritical

Each and every one of them is of value because of their willingness to be part of this inclusive journey. They are of value and are part of a larger culture each and every one of us represents.So, stop feeding into self-defeating behavior and lines of thought. I understand for some of it stems from fear of failure, fear of success and fear of the unknown, imposed on us by others and even ourselves. Some of it comes from our own hubris, arrogance, and lack of humility. Even finding contentment in being sedentary and lazy. Regardless, we must take charge of our lives and push forward for what we believe in. Together.

If you are limiting yourself in this way, shut up and go shoot something already; create something. Reinvent yourself and create something out of your comfort zone. Complaining does not serve you, your art, or others in the filmmaking community. The time and effort spent can be used to actually make a difference; in your craft – directly, and you will influence others through what you create; even those you have never met or will never meet. Hang around people that are more free and open in their thinking and elevate one another. This is also true if you are a musician, a singer, a writer, or any other resident of this planet. Just go for it and do it. You can!

Please understand I am not discounting in any way the validity of the complaints we are hearing in and around our communities, nor in the entertainment industry. And there are many.But one simple fact is until the day Hollywood starts devoting smaller budgets for more interesting and diverse motion pictures, and have a willingness to develop more interesting television programming with substance, and featuring more of a diverse set of individuals to star in them, it is up to us to create these projects ourselves and feature these fellow artisans. It is also up to us to tell the stories others may not, so that we can influence positive change in our communities and in our world. We have to build enough momentum with our projects within the filmmaking community for the studios to take notice.

We need to create our own solutions and not rely on the system that is in place to have a reasonable chance for success. And it starts when each one of us decides that he or she is just going to do it.Your choices go well beyond what is happening in your corner of the world, and the world is a big place. Your choices can have a profound effect on many outside your immediate circle, possibly for generations. Why would you want to limit yourself, your voice, and your story in any way?Hollywood struggled after the end of the Golden Age in the 1960s, suffering the big financial losses of the large-budgeted epic films, some of which were unpopular, as well as the viewership from theatergoers lessening as more and more people stayed home to watch television.

The studios were forced to give younger talents the opportunity making the 1970s a great time for American cinema. Similar circumstances are shaping now, which will force the entertainment industry to look at content creators in a different light.

Let’s create a revival; the resurgence of Hollywood, and bring back the auteur to cinema. Be an active part of the “New Hollywood Generation”!

‘Hollywood, Unapologetic!’ is a series to help give aspiring artisans, content creators, and thought leaders get started on the road to having a voice in the public eye as part of the “New Hollywood Generation”. YOU are a representative of the “New Hollywood Generation”.

‘Hollywood, Unapologetic!’ is a continuation of the “Pollyanna’s Tear Soaked Battlefields of Hollywood: A Survival Guide Against the Cynicism and the Hypocritical,” series of books designed to help you better prepare for success.

More information about OTK Media Group, Inc. can be found at otkmediagroup.com.

2011-2017 © OTK Media Group, Inc. / Orlando Delbert