Diversity ‘on the outs’?

That was the week that was* . . . diversity and diversity training were thrown out with the cat… by the White House and at least within federal government organizations.


The White House rationale is a spin which sees the ‘black & white’ of an argument and not the gray (context) which surrounds it–simplicity as opposed to complexity. It is a rationale that reduces any system to its simplest form–a rationale no longer valid in 2020. And dare I say, it holds particularly for those stuck in 1959, 1964 and 1970, those fearful of a changed world or those not familiar with systems theory.

However, most activists and researchers know that diversity makes us more creative, more productive and more successful. This White House edict is not a showstopper!

Hollywood continues the effort to include women and all people of color into the creative ranks. Gina Davis Institute on Gender is one example.

ABC announces inclusion standards to increase diversity on and off-screen 

ABC unveiled the implementation of a set of new inclusion standards, which is meant to help the network’s programming more accurately reflect the diversity of the world off-screen. VP of Development & Content Strategy Simran Sethi commented: “These new guidelines are intended to make our content and our sets as inclusive as possible, and will serve as a further catalyst for real and sustained change.” Full Story: The Hollywood Reporter (9/30)
Ms. Marvel casts Iman Vellani in titular role

Breakout actress Iman Vellani will be taking on the role of the new Ms. Marvel, starring in her own series on Disney+ before taking on the silver screen as part of the Marvel universe. Ms. Marvel focuses on Kamala Khan, Marvel’s first Muslim character to star in her own title. Says Vellani: “We want stories from different genders and different countries and different people.” Full Story: The Hollywood Reporter (9/30)
Anita Hill’s commission launches new platform to report sexual harrassment in Hollywood

Anita Hill – the brave survivor who testified against U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas during his Senate confirmation for sexual harassment – has launched a new platform to report repeat offenders of sexual harassment in Hollywood. The Hollywood Commission on Eliminating Sexual Harassment and Advancing Equality, led by Hill, launched the platform alongside the results of a survey of nearly 10,000 respondents in the entertainment industry. Says Hill: “The more information we can provide, the better we will be able to come up with solutions together.” Full Story: Variety (9/29)
Mourning another feminist icon: Helen Reddy, singer of iconic “I Am Woman“, dies at 78

Helen Reddy, who skyrocketed to fame with her 1972 hit “I Am Woman” has passed away at 78. Accepting a Grammy for the song in 1973, Reddy thanked “God, because She makes everything possible.” Full Story: Variety (9/29)
American Black Film Festival unveils upcoming Chadwick Boseman retrospective

The American Black Film Festival announced an upcoming retrospective for the late Chadwick Boseman, which will feature three of the actor’s most iconic roles: 42Get On Up, and Marshall. Boseman played Jackie Robinson in 42; James Brown in Get On Up; and the first African American Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall in the Marshall biopic. The films will stream on Oct. 3 and 4 via newly launched streaming platform ABFF Play. Full Story: The Hollywood Reporter (9/29)
“Grown-ish” star Yara Shahidi signs on as Tinker Bell in upcoming Peter Pan and Wendy

Disney announced that Grown-ish star Yara Shahidi will be taking on the role of Tinker Bell in an upcoming Peter Pan retelling. The move marks the first time a role that has been traditionally featured a White actress will be played by a woman of color. Full Story: Deadline (9/25)
Daniel Dae Kim testifies in front of U.S. House Committee at media diversity hearing

Actor Daniel Dae Kim made a powerful testimony to the U.S. House Committee at a recent hearing on diversity in media. Of the decision to testify, Kim noted that he initially thought the idea of media diversity was a “no brainer”, but decided to testify after learning that around 40% of the House voted “no” on H.Res.908 – Condemning all forms of anti-Asian sentiment as related to COVID19. Kim argued that media doesn’t just reflect culture, it “helps shape its values,” and called media a “values-delivery system.” Full Story: The Hollywood Reporter (9/24)

And finally:

See Jane Spotlight: Learn how Movio’s Audience Diversity Algorithm Can Predict Box Office Success

Photo: curtesy of Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media

The abrupt halt to movie production and the extended closure of cinemas has provided content creators and studios with the time to pivot and ensure that onscreen portrayals are reflective of society.  Our exclusive interview with William Palmer, Chief Executive and Founder of Movio, highlights how findings from our joint research study “I Want To See Me” expand the diversity conversation and catalyze cultural change.  In turn, he explains how relevant films can drive profitability. See Jane Spotlight (9/30).

*It ran for just two seasons but That Was The Week That Was (“TW3”) is still revered more than four decades later.

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