Who Will Pass? USC Project Will Give Hollywood Companies A Report Card For Diversity

“As I walk the streets of Hollywood Boulevard/Thinking how hard it was to those that starred/In the movies portraying the roles/Of butlers and maids, slaves and hoes” – Big Daddy Kane “Burn Hollywood Burn” – 1990

[T]he recent snub of Ava Duvernay’s critically acclaimed movie “Selma” has reignited a long-running debate over racism and a lack of diversity. It seems like when it comes to Hollywood, and its portrayal of woman and minorities, nothing ever changes.
For the past two weeks, the nomination process for the 2015 Oscars has been under extreme scrutiny.
The Academy Awards’ glaring oversight of Duvernay’s film, as well as actor David Oyelowo’s exclusion from all the main categories, has drawn backlash from a number of heavyweights.
A number of critics have dissed the Oscars. Rev. Al Sharpton was less than thrilled, and even Hollywood titan George Lucas trashed the organization.

Hattie McDaniel
 Hattie McDaniel was the first African-American to win an Oscar. She won for her role as “Mammy” in the 1939 film, “Gone With the Wind.” Later in her career, McDaniel was criticized for the types of roles she decided to play on the big screen.

“Selma” controversy removed, an issue still exists. No black actors or actresses were nominated. Not a single female screenwriter, cinematographer or director made the cut, in the eyes of the Oscar’s voting body.
A study by the Los Angeles Times revealed those voters are almost 94% Caucasian and 77% male, while blacks and Latinos comprise just 2% of the total vote.
A new initiative launched today (January 20) at USC in Southern California hopes to call out companies in Hollywood over the issue of diversity on television and in films.
The USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism has launched the new project that will grade companies in Hollywood based on their diversity.
The result will be the Comprehensive Analysis and Report on Diversity (CARD), which the University says will serve as Hollywood’s official “report card.” The report card will rate and reward the content that Hollywood companies create in addition to evaluating the overall diversity of the producing companies.
The project will also study and catalog the chain of command at corporations in the media business, in order to understand and shed light on the hiring practices of these entities. The plan is being overseen by the Media, Diversity & Social Change (MDSC) Initiative at USC Annenberg.
Professor Stacy L. Smith will direct the project, which use over 100 graduate and undergraduate students, as well as a variety of research scientists, to study the media business. MDSC has been studying the business since 2006.
According to recently released data, 17 films among the top 100 grossing films of 2013 featured not one African-American speaking character. For women, the numbers look bleak as well. Between 2007–2013, just two out of 600 popular films were directed by black women.
“Clearly, not one group or one company is solely responsible for the lack of diversity on-screen or behind the camera,” said Professor Stacy L.Smith. “We need a broader look at who is doing well, and who needs to step up their game. The USC Annenberg CARD will do just that,” Smith said.
In addition to race and gender studies, LGBT representation will also be reviewed and graded. Those companies that receive the highest grades will be rewarded by USC during an awards show that will take place in 2016.
“The mission of this new institute and report card is integrated into everything we do,” said USCAnnenberg Dean Ernest J. Wilson III. “This is not a sidebar; this is core to our school’s vision.”
Dean Wilson’s school has over 2,200 students enrolled in the fields of communications, PR and other concentration related to journalism.