Newswise — Meg Knowles, Buffalo State College associate professor of communication and an award-winning documentary-maker, was not surprised by the results of a landmark study on diversity in Hollywood released this week. It revealed that an “epidemic of invisibility” runs throughout the film and television industry for women, minorities, and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals.“While quite a few women are writing and directing documentaries and independent films, when you get to Hollywood where more money is at stake, the landscape becomes much more noticeably male and white,” said Knowles, whose research areas include women in media, women in film, women/diversity in Hollywood, and the independent film business.
According to the comprehensive study of 414 films and TV series conducted by the Media, Diversity and Social Change Initiative at the University of Southern California, Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, only one-third of speaking characters were female and only 28.3 percent were from minority groups. And perhaps most stunningly, only 3.4 percent of the films studied were directed by women.“You hear about a couple of well-known women directing films and assume there are more, when really there is just a handful,” Knowles said. “In television, the disparity is not quite as great, but the salaries also aren’t as high as they are in studio films.”The study came out just days before the February 28 Academy Awards ceremony, which already has attracted scathing criticism for its lack of diversity among nominees and resulted in the social media campaign #OscarsSoWhite. For the second straight year, there is a slate of all-white nominees in the acting categories.