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The Big Impact of Diversity from Black Representation in Films and TV

Black Americans have had a long struggle to earn their representation in film and TV, but productions have made great strides in the last few years. Though studies indicate a long way to go, a recent study has shown some of the impacts increasing diversity could have on the industry.

Though increasing black representation benefits black populations, several benefits impact everyone. For example, studies have shown that increased diversity could earn the industry billions of dollars more in annual revenue. Though we may still have a long way to advance social equity in film and TV, it might help to look at how diversity can impact the industry, so let’s take a look.

Increased Earnings

A study by McKinsey has found that the barriers that black actors have found to equal representation in films and TV come at a significant loss to the industry itself. The industry could earn more than $10 billion in additional annual revenue by achieving equal representation based on their estimate. This additional revenue would represent an incredible 7% growth in the overall industry’s revenue. This estimate is based on achieving representation both on and off-screen and distributing fair distribution of budgets for marketing and production of black-led properties and providing these properties with the same level of international distribution.

However, the authors found that despite how incredible this $10 billion number seems, it is only a baseline, and executives should aspire for much more. By achieving diversity amongst even more underrepresented groups, the industry could potentially source even greater profits. Currently, reports indicate that audiences are hungry for shows that feature a cast with at least 40% non-white casts, which falls clearly in line with the U.S. Census Bureau’s most recent estimate for the country’s percentage of the non-white population. This report indicates that black representation could significantly impact industry profits that may only grow bigger.

Greater Diversity On and Off-Screen

Black actors have a considerable struggle finding roles from the very start. Compared with white actors emerging black actors receive few opportunities to make a mark with a leading role and are often funneled into solely race-related projects, which generally receive poorer funding than other categories of TV and film.

Perhaps even worse, though, a study indicates that black representation in off-screen roles suffers even greater than for those on-screen roles. This lack of representation is particularly unfortunate because black representation in these roles is critical for achieving diversity on the screen. Overall, unless there is at least a single black person of the production who’s also a senior member of the production, then it is overwhelmingly likely that black talent will not end up in roles on screen or in roles as writers or directors. However, when these breakthroughs are made, this does at least beget more opportunity, which is at least promising.

Final Thoughts

LINDSAY GUIÓN, the founder of GUIÓN PARTNERS believes that black talent in the film and TV industry has made some strides over the years. However, it still has a long way to go. By increasing black representation in the industry, Hollywood could benefit from a hefty $10 billion increase in revenue. This means that racial equity could lead to greater profits as well as fairness. However, audiences can benefit themselves from the increase in representation and the opportunity to see black stories told, which can help reshape audiences’ ideas about race and help advance racial equity across the globe.