Why Isn't There More Diversity in Hollywood Screenwriting?

The lack of diversity in Hollywood is no secret. It's obvious with all the white actors taking up screen time, but even outside the camera (and off the set), it's an issue. Just think "Straight Outta Compton"--of all films in the world, it, too, was written by white folks (Jonathan Herman and Andrea Berloff). 

Also, an upcoming film about the life of 21-year-old Barack Obama was written by...you guessed it: a white dude (Adam Mansbach).

But there's progress being made! Right? Just Google "screenwriter diversity" and you'll find a few glimmers of hope for a more diverse future. For example: the WGA's list of writer diversity programs, Conferences, and Festivals.  

Still, these programs have been around for a while at this point. If progress is being made, we're starting to wonder when we'll start seeing some real results (in the writer's room and on the screen). As it stands, the Oscars continue to nominate films that are overwhelmingly white and male. Many people are convinced that Hollywood actively engages in systemic racism by denying people of color roles as actors, directors, and screenwriters. It seems that women and people of color are only rarely considered for awards in the film industry. This was all summed up for us in the hashtag: #OscarsSoWhite. 

According to The Washington Post, the best way to combat the lack of diversity in film is to focus on the hiring process. It's a no-brainer. Simply hire more women, people in the LGTBQ community, people with disabilities, people of color, and those with different religious backgrounds, as screenwriters, directors, and actors.

Why does this matter? Aside from the obvious (systemic oppression in any form is kind of a bad thing), there's also a subtle but compelling reason for increasing diversity in Hollywood. Films are about stories. Stories are about life. Life is inherently diverse. If the film industry limits the kinds of stories it tells, it's not only hurting itself, it's also just a damn shame.

Also, the picture above is from the film "Dear White People." It's funny. Read the screenplay!