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Minority Coalition Pushes Movie Studios for More Diversity

In the wake of all-white Oscar acting nominations, members of the Multi-Ethnic Media Coalition have pledged to pressure the big six movie studios for more diversity.

The coalition includes the National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC), Asian Pacific American Media Coalition (APAMC) and American Indians in Film and Television (AIFT). The group held a news conference Thursday — three weeks after the Oscar nominations were announced — to disclose the specifics of their plans to press Disney, Fox, Paramount, Sony, Universal and Warner Bros. to embrace diversity.

“This is important because it’s about how we are perceived,” said Alex Nogales of the National Hispanic Coalition on the need for more diversity.

“The fact that all of the nominees across the top four acting categories at this year’s Oscars are once again white impacts African Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans and Native Americans,” Nogales said. “Individuals from all of our communities have been denied meaningful opportunities for their work to be considered for Academy Awards.”

The coalition group, which has been pressing the major TV networks on diversity issues for 16 years, will seek commitments from the film studios to meet with them on an annual basis; to regularly provide data on their released films regarding casting, writing, producing and directing; and to explore strategies for increasing diversity and inclusion of people of color.

The group is also asking the studios to regularly provide data on the number of people of color among the studios’ top creative executives and to explore strategies for increasing those numbers; and to create “pipeline” programs to ensure that people of color have genuine opportunities to participate in all aspects of the creation of American motion pictures.

“All of our organizations have worked together since the summer of 1999 to improve opportunities for people of color in television,” said Sonny Skyhawk, a member of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences and founder of AIFT. “The great improvements you’ve seen on the small screen have been due in large part to our behind-the-scenes efforts. Now, we’re setting our sights on meeting with the top six movie studios and asking them to do the same on the big screen.”

Daniel Mayeda, co-chair of the Asian Pacific American Media Coalition, expressed frustration that most of the people who have the power to greenlight films are white and maintain that movies with minority casts don’t perform well, in spite of strong box office performances by such films as “Furious 7,” “Straight Outta Compton” and “Creed.”

“Even when making films based on true stories, they often change the characters’ ethnicity to white,” Mayeda said.

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