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Concerns arise as minority writers in Hollywood worry diversity will be sidelined following the strike.

Hollywood’s Minority Writers Fear Diversity Will Fall Farther Down the Agenda After Strike

Diverse Writers Aim to Refocus Hollywood’s Attention on Increasing Diversity

After the Writers Guild of America approved a new three-year contract with major studios, Hollywood writers from underrepresented groups are expressing concerns about their job security in the rapidly changing industry. These writers are now determined to redirect studios’ focus towards increasing diversity.

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Many Minority Writers Hope for Greater Representation

The negotiations between the WGA and major studios did not directly address diversity, leaving many minority members disappointed. People of color, LGBTQ+ individuals, disabled people, and women were hoping for a greater prioritization of diversifying the industry. However, WGA West board member Angelina Burnett explained that the contract talks were primarily focused on protecting everyone’s economic stability. The new contract was approved on Monday.

Institutional Bias and Reviving Promises

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Hollywood minority writers are troubled by what they perceive as institutional bias, particularly after several diversity initiatives were affected by cost-cutting measures this year. Studios have become less vocal about the inclusion pledges they made following the police killing of George Floyd in 2020. In response, some writers have taken it upon themselves to launch their own initiatives to revive those promises and provide support for other minority writers.

Efforts for Equitable Hiring

Writer Luvh Rakhe, who is South Asian American and has worked on sitcoms like “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,” emphasized the need for concerted efforts by writers and companies to ensure equitable hiring practices. Similarly, Caroline Renard, a writer on the animated children’s show “Bossy Bear,” co-founded Black Women Rising to support low- to mid-level Black women writers in their careers. Other groups like Black Women Brunch and Black Male Screenwriters also offer support to Black writers.

Concerns Over Studios’ Focus on Cost-Cutting

Underrepresented writers fear that after the strike, studios will prioritize cost-cutting to make up for lost revenue instead of focusing on diversity. This concern is heightened by the fact that several diversity and inclusion executives abruptly left their jobs at major Hollywood organizations this summer, coinciding with significant cost cuts implemented by studios. The silence from both the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers and the companies themselves regarding diversity initiatives since the strike began has further exacerbated these worries.

Representation Discrepancies and Uphill Battle

Statistics show that minority writers are underrepresented in the industry. According to a WGA report, people of color accounted for only 22.6% of screen employment in 2020, despite making up 42.2% of the U.S. population. White people, on the other hand, held 77.4% of jobs but represented 57.8% of the population. Disabled individuals face even greater challenges, as they hold only about 1% of writing roles despite comprising 27% of the adult population in the United States.

The Upheaval and Vulnerability of Minority Writers

The ongoing changes in the industry, including layoffs and declining traditional television viewership, have raised concerns among minority writers. As pay rises for writers, there are worries that studios will create fewer shows, making minority writers, who often occupy junior positions, more vulnerable to layoffs. Kyle Bowser, NAACP senior vice president for its Hollywood bureau, highlighted the adage that “the last hired are the first fired,” further exacerbating these concerns.

Ensuring Equitable Opportunities and Overcoming Challenges

Efforts like the nonprofit Inevitable Foundation aim to provide financial support to disabled writers facing economic hardships and advocate for more equitable opportunities in Hollywood. However, co-founder Richie Siegel believes that many studios will default to the “status quo” as they rebuild after the strike, paying little attention to the employment and accessibility barriers faced by disabled writers.

In conclusion, Hollywood’s minority writers are determined to refocus the industry’s attention on increasing diversity. They aim to overcome institutional biases and revive promises made regarding inclusion and representation. The battle for equitable opportunities continues, as underrepresented writers face concerns about job security and potential marginalization.

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