Over the last 10 – 20 years, television representations of race have evolved a lot and it’s shown through many different: Creative Film Assignment, UON, UK

Dec 11, 2023


Subject Creative Film

Over the last 10 – 20 years, television representations of race have evolved a lot and it’s shown through many different tv shows and reports that have been released over the years. There’s been a good rise in ethnic directors, writers, actors, and producers such as Shonda Rhimes who has produced shows like How to Get Away with Murder, Scandal, Grey’s Anatomy, Inventing Anna and Kenya Barris who was the writer and producer of Black-ish and Grown-ish and the films Girls Trip and You People. They have been two of the many directors/writers/producers that have shown an evolution in the representation of race through the last 10-20 years.

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‘By addressing the persistent racial inequities, the industry could reap an additional $10 billion in annual revenues’ (McKinsey & Co, 2021). While finding research on ways that race has evolved over the years, there were many articles and interviews about the evolution of television for different races. In general, trying to build a sustained career in television is hard as the industry has been a very unwelcoming workplace.

This part of the article just shows that if the industry was open to allowing different races in the industry, the opportunity to be in television the annual revenue would increase by at least 7% (McKinsey & Co, 2021), and even though that doesn’t seem like it’s much, it is and it would make a big difference in the industry if they were more inclusive with other races. In research, it is shown that in the UK in 2019, employees from minority ethnic backgrounds in broadcast channels like BBC, Channel 4, Sky, and ITV were made from 13% across the UK TV industry but from White ethnic groups it was 70% (Ofcom, 2019).

There have been many reasons why minority groups have evolved in the tv industry, one main being that there have been more directors, writers, and producers that are from a certain race that want to make films or shows that include actors from their own race to allow the audience to relate to characters and be able to see people that are like them on their screen also to allow the audience to emotionally and mentally be able to identify with characters.

It’s also shown that a lot of films and shows would do better with a diverse cast than an all-white cast because the audience wants to see diversity and inclusivity and the demand for it was at least 40% but in the last 3 years it has at least double to more than 112%. Outpacing the growth in the number of shows that have made it to air.

A big reason why tv representation has evolved over the years is that white directors, producers, and writers want to also bring that diversity into their production because times have also evolved and people are not living in an era where only white people get cast for shows or have the power to do things in the industry which is amazing because it allows everyone to have hope and follow their dreams in being in the television industry regardless of their race.

When it comes to lead roles in television, it has been shown that the majority of lead role actors are white and only 11 percent of lead role actors were black and the other minority groups were even less than that (McKinsey & Co, 2021) and when it comes to the breakdown of TV employees it’s shown that 73 percent are of White ethnic groups, black being 3%, East Asian 1%, South Asian 6% and mixed being 1% (Ofcom, 2020).

When researching the evolution of the representation of race within the last 10-20 years many articles and interviews mostly talk about the evolution of black people having a rise of representation compared to other races because they are the race that has the most evolution the TV industry, which is something that has not come easy but still has a long way to go.

Although many shows that do include black leads are often very stereotyped, for example, Top Boy, How to Get Away with Murder, I May Destroy You, Power, and many more TV shows. Top Boy is very much revolved around gang violence and drugs which is very much what people already think black people are about in this generation whereas How to Get Away with Murder shows a black woman, Viola Davis, as a strong lawyer female character which shows that even the concept of having a black lead woman in shows are changing but even with that there still some controversies on Viola Davis being the main actress on How To Get Away with Murder because there were other black actors in the Hollywood industry that said she ‘wasn’t pretty enough’ or ‘she’s too black’ to be the main character in a series that big, but again she proved them wrong that this goes to show the struggles that black leads have to go through, it’s never easy for them, male or female.

Movies like Black Panther took years to come, as Black Panther was the first Marvel film to have a black cast and a black leading role which was such a big thing for the black community and any other minority community because it was something that hadn’t been done before and many people felt so strongly about it, it was also said that Black Panther became the superhero movie that solidified the argument for more diversity and representation in superhero films and it was the movie to give minorities that golden opportunity to command an entire blockbuster (Alfar, 2022).

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