Minorities, seniors, females underrepresented

Minorities, seniors and female actors have achieved few gains in recent years in the number of film and TV roles they receive, according to casting stats released by the Screen Actors Guild.

“The diverse and multicultural world we live in today is still not accurately reflected in the portrayals we see on the screen,” SAG president Ken Howard said in a statement. “We will continue to work with producers, hiring executives and industry professionals in accurately portraying the American scene by ensuring equal access to employment opportunities for all of our members.”

The latest statistics, released Friday, showed minority performers reached a high mark in 2007, with 29.3% of total roles, and then declined last year to 27.5%.

The breakdown of film and TV roles for 2008 was 72.5% Caucasian, 13.3% African-American, 6.4% Latino-Hispanic, 3.8 Asian-Pacific Islander, 0.3% Native American and 3.8% other-unknown. SAG noted in its report that U.S. Census data from 2000 showed that the nation’s population was 73.4% Caucasian, 11.5% African-American, 10.6% Latino-Hispanic, 3.7% Asian-Pacific Islander and 0.8% Native American.

Producers who are signatory to SAG contracts are required to submit hiring data in order to examine the trends of “traditionally underemployed and disenfranchised members.”

SAG also noted that people with disabilities remain “virtually invisible” in casting even though 20% of the U.S. population has a disability.

SAG, AFTRA, Actors Equity and the WGA held the inaugural Hollywood Disabilities Forum at UCLA on Saturday.

The report noted that male actors continue to fill the majority of roles, especially in the supporting category, with about two roles for every female role.

The picture did improve slightly for older thesps.

Roles have increased for males 40 and over, with film parts up from 40% in 2006 to 43% in 2008, while TV roles increased from 40% to 42% in that period; roles for females 40 and over rose in film and TV from 26% in 2006 to 28% last year.

SAG also said that Asian-Pacific thesps were the only minority group to gain from 2007 to 2008, increasing from 3.4% to 3.8%, thanks to gains in TV.

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