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CBS Details Diversity Efforts at UCLA Event

CBS Details Diversity Efforts UCLA Event
Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty

Representatives of CBS made the case for how the network deals with issues relating to racial diversity on television at an Wednesday at the UCLA School of Law.

“There’s a disconnect between what America looks like and the stories that we’re telling, for the most part, in the Hollywood entertainment industry,” said Darnell Hunt, director of the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies at UCLA.

Hunt noted a report the center released in February for the 2011-12 season found only 5.1 percent of the leads on broadcast television were played by a minority, shows like “Scandal” and The CW’s “Nikita.”

Tiffany Smith-Anoa’i, vice president of diversity and communications at CBS, said departments like hers came about during the 1999-2000 television season when all three major broadcast networks launched their fall shows without a single person of color being cast as a series regular.

“Every network, every studio has a diversity department that represents writers, directors, in front of the camera, behind the camera and we’re all trying to change those numbers [Hunt] presented,” said Smith-Anoa’i.

Rick Najera, director and head writer of the CBS Diversity Comedy Showcase, said he’s been fighting this kind of fight since he was a kid. He has so many jobs right now, (writer, director and producer), because he has to be able to make a living.

“When you’re a minority in Hollywood you have to survive, you can’t just be good, you have to be so great,” Najera said.

Also speaking at the event were Fern Orenstein, senior VP, casting at CBS Entertainment, and moderator Lev Ginsburg, a partner at law firm Ginsburg Daniels.