Netflix's diversity study revealed an equity gap behind the scenes, and showed that LGBTQ+ and characters with disabilities are 'rare'
Netflixrevealed the details of a two-year diversity study of the company's shows and staff.
- The on-camera gender gap has closed, but many groups are still underrepresented on and off screen.
- Netflix is investing $100 million over the next five years to bring in underrepresented communities.
Netflix on Friday released the results of a two-year study that examined the diversity of the company's original shows and films.
The study looked at on-screen representation across gender, race/ethnicity, LGBTQ, and people with disabilities, and also included roles behind the camera, such as directors, writers, and producers in 125 movies and 180 series Netflix released in the US during 2018 and 2019.Netflix managed to close the gender gap with nearly split representation among men and women in leads, but in of all the original content that the study looked at, there was only one non-binary lead. According to the study, the percentage of underrepresented leads/co leads overall increased from 26.4% in 2018 to 37.3% in 2019.
The company increased diverse racial/ethnic representation in main cast members by 6.6%, but that still only accounted for 34.1% of main characters across all of Netflix's original content.One of Netflix's most popular original series, Bridgerton - set in England during the Regency era - featured a diverse cast, which drew criticism. Many of the show's actors defended the casting, including the show's lead Phoebe Dynevor, who plays Daphne Bridgerton. Dynevor said the show had "perfect casting."
In the report, Netflix also noted that "we still have work to do'' when it comes to LGBTQ+ and characters with disabilities, which the company called "rare." The study showed representation of LGBTQ+ and characters with disabilities were in the single digits across both film and original series.Behind the scenes, gender equity fell, especially once broken down by race. Only 23.1% of film directors were women, and only 6.2% were women of color. Those numbers were consistent across series directors too: Of the 1,666 directors working on Netflix shows, only 27.7% were women, according to the study. Similarly, women made up about a quarter of screenwriters, and about a third each of episode writers and producers.
Prolific producer Shonda Rhimes ended her $10 million contract with ABC in 2018 to sign a four-year deal with Netflix worth an estimated $150 million. Bridgerton was her debut show for the company, on which she has an executive producer credit. It's been estimated to have reached nearly 82 million viewers, making it the most watched Netflix original series in the company's history.
She told The Hollywood Reporter that she decided to end her ABC deal early after an executive asked her, "Don't you have enough?" when she asked for an extra ticket to Disneyland.Netflix said it will continue to work with Dr. Stacy L. Smith, the founder and director of USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative and the expert who conducted the study, in order to identify areas where the company can improve. That includes establishing the Netflix Fund for Creative Equity.
"We will invest $100 million over the next five years in a combination of external organizations with a strong track record of setting underrepresented communities up for success in the
"We are still in the early stages of a major change in storytelling - where great stories can truly come from anywhere, be created by anyone, whatever their background, and be loved everywhere," the executive added.
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