Film Forward

A Hollywood Power Player Is Proactively Addressing Hollywood’s Diversity Problem

“I personally can do better.”

When the Oscar nominations were announced last month, the crop of stars who were up for the four big acting categories didn't reflect the diversity of America. Mainly, no actors of color were nominated for either Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, or Best Supporting Actor.

This led to dusting off the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag for a second year on social media, as well as boycotts of the Academy Awards ceremony from the likes of director Spike Lee and actress Jada Pinkett Smith.

Though the Academy promises to make changes to its membership and the Screen Actors Guild somewhat compensated for the Oscar snubs, the SAG Awards further proved that TV has been the progressive medium when it comes to diversity in film. Now, it's about to get a boost from Ryan Murphy, one of Hollywood's top producers.


According to The Hollywood Reporter, Murphy — the producer behind the hit shows Glee, Scream Queens, American Crime Story, and American Horror Story — launched a foundation called Half. Its goal is to have 50 percent of Ryan Murphy Productions' directing gigs handled by women, people of color, and members of the LGBT community.

"I personally can do better," Murphy told THR, revealing that part of the inspiration for his push came during the publication's Women in Entertainment breakfast, where former publicist Nanci Ryder gave an emotional speech urging the industry to solve its "gender problem."

"Nanci said, 'People in power, you have a position and responsibility to change the industry,' and I thought, 'She's right,' " Murphy told THR, which reported that the initial goal was to increase the number of directing roles for women before expanding Half's mission to include minority, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender candidates.

The numbers are quite problematic. According to a report by the Directors Guild of America, just 16 percent of television directing roles were held by women during the 2014-2015 TV season. The same report revealed that 18 percent were held by people of color.

The Half foundation — housed within the 20th Century Fox Television-based Ryan Murphy Productions — and Murphy himself are aiming to make the 50 percent split happen by the end of 2016, according to THR. Additionally, the plan to is to "begin extensive outreach efforts" to the American Film Institute, University of California, Los Angeles, and the University of Southern California, and other schools in the future, to promote mentorships and encourage a pipeline of underrepresented talent to feel welcome in Tinseltown.

"The industry has always been about, you come to us," Murphy told THR. "There's not a lot of effort and inclusion, and I'm saying, 'No, we're going to go to you.' "

A representative for Murphy declined further comment for this story, but this is a big move, especially for a producer at the top of his game — and who's been criticized for his shows' handling of diverse characters

And folks are eager to help Hollywood open its doors.

(H/T: The Hollywood Reporter)

Cover image: Alberto E. Rodriguez / Getty Images.


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