“Hollywood Hiring Programs Aren’t Enough to Solve Diversity Problem, Says SMPTE Panel”

“Hollywood’s lack of diversity is hot topic, and that has prompted some companies to set up programs to expand minority hiring.

Yet are those diversity programs, well intentioned and even necessary as they are, missing an essential part of the industry?

That was one question raised at a panel on how to increase diversity in the future of cinema. The panel was held at the Future of Cinema Conference run by the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE).

Producer Stephen Love of BS Pictures reminded the gathering that diversity programs tend to be top-down, and are intended to pull people up, but without minority representation on the administrative side, that’s not enough.

“If you don’t have representation in those ranks as well, it’s really hard to make everyone feel like there’s not a glass ceiling in the organization,” said Love. Love pointed out that no African American has ever run a major American studio. “I know several executives who are all looking to that point,” he said, “but before they get there, they’re all somehow pushed to producing.

“There’s more money in producing but there’s more power in the studio ranks,” he said.

Love also pointed out that having a “check-box” for hiring minority categories is not enough. He cited the example of an African-American female writer he knows who was hired by a show that had all-black cast but needed a diversity hire.

“The problem with that was that there were 12 writers in that room but she was the only person of color and the only woman. Unfortunately, she had no input,” said Love. “They would develop scripts without her, to the point where she just stayed in her own office.” She didn’t get a chance to contribute, said Love, until one of the show’s stars threatened to quit if she was not included…”
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