×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Women In Animation: Julie Ann Crommett on Highest Returns Coming from Cast Diversity

3rd Women in Animation World Summit will be devoted to ‘Belonging’

ANNECY, France—The 2nd Women in Animation World Summit kicked off on Monday with an introductory master-class about “Inclusion and Intersectionality” by Julie Ann Crommett, VP of multicultural engagement at Walt Disney Studios.

Marge Dean, head of studio, Ellation, Inc., and the WIA president, pointed out in her Summit presentation: “The world has changed a lot since last year. Last year was a real turning point for everyone, and I think the biggest change was that people started to listen to women and believe in them.”

In a sharp, brisk speech, Crommett, who has Cuban and Puerto Rican roots, drew on the example set by her grandfather, Paco Pardo – an actor, movie reviewer and early tech geek, who inspired her to pursue a path in animation – to make a case for greater diversity. “We don’t have to choose between different parts of our identity,” she said. “We have to choose between different parts of our passion.”

Revisiting some of the key talking points from the previous Summit, Crommett focused on unconscious bias, which results from the shortcuts the brain takes in order to quickly process large amounts of data. Subjecting the audience to a series of psychological tests, she illustrated how unconscious assumptions could affect memory and beliefs, which in turn impacts the decision-making process. “Even a tiny bit of bias could have big consequences,” she said.

Crommett also focused on inclusion, which she said harnessed the power of differences and similarities to achieve a common goal, and intersectionality, which “considers that the various forms of what one sees as social stratification, such as class, race, sexual orientation, age, disability and gender, do not exist separately from each other but are complexly interwoven.”

If last year’s central theme was “unconscious bias” and this year’s Summit is devoted to “Inclusion and Diversity,” the big issue for next year will be “Belonging.” To illustrate the differences, Crommett noted: “Diversity is being invited to the party, inclusion is being asked to dance, and belonging is that your music is playing, and you can boogie.”

Drawing on research done by the USC Annenberg School for Communications and Journalism Inequality and by UCLA, the Disney exec presented stark data about gender and race integration in Hollywood and across the world.

The figures suggest that women on-screen are often seen, not heard: just 34% of speaking roles are given to women – only 31% in animation – and just 3% to women of color. Overall, 71% of on-screen characters are white, though in animation, that number dips to 51%, due to the influence of foreign fare like “Viana” and “Kubo and the Two Strings.”

In U.S. scripted cable series, the stats are slightly better, with 42% of speaking roles written for women, and 12% for women of color.

In leading positions such as directing, the situation is substantially worse: in 2016, just 4% of the directors of top films were women, and less than 1% women of color. Creators of U.S. scripted cable TV shows didn’t fare much better: 17% are women, while a whopping 93% of the total are white. Worldwide, according to the Geena Davis Institute’s Gender Bias Without Borders Report, 21% of filmmakers are women.

Despite the avalanche of negative data, Crommett cited comScore/Screen Engine sources from the MPAA 2016 Theatrical Statistics Report, which showed that the gender ratio among viewers is more proportionate. In the case of “The Secret Life of Pets,” the audience split was 46% men and 54% women; for “The Jungle Book,” it was 48% to 52%. The survey average of top grossing films was split right down the middle, 50-50.

Crommett concluded with an example she called “one of my favorites,” illustrating how gender parity boils down to revenues as much as rights. Animated movies with a 41%-50% ratio of diversity in casting, she noted, were the most successful at the global B.O., according to UCLA’s Hollywood Diversity Report 2017. Independent of genre, the highest returns come with titles including a 20% or better ratio of cast diversity.

In the introduction to the symposium, Mickaël Marin, managing director of Citia – and, starting July 1, the next Annecy fest organizer’s CEO – reaffirmed the fest’s commitment to gender equality with the Summit project and its push for representation in the industry. Marin, who will on Tuesday give the 2018 Mifa Animation Industry Award to WIA, also announced and presented the new head of Mifa, Véronique Encrenaz, the first woman to hold this position.

The event was organized by Women in Animation (WIA) and Les Femmes s’Animent (LFA), in partnership with the 2018 Annecy Int’l. Animation Festival and Mifa. The sponsors included DreamWorks Animation, Netflix, Walt Disney Animation Studios, Blue Sky Studios, Paramount Animation, Pixar, Sony Pictures Animation, Warner Animation Group, Warner Bros. Animation, the Centre National du Cinema et de l’Image Animée, Cube Creative Productions, Cyber Group Studios, Piste Rouge, SACD, SPFA, TeamTO and 22D Music Group.

CREDIT: Ucla Hollywood Diversity Report 2017

More Film

  • Steve James Chicago Story

    Participant Media Partners With Filmmaker Steve James on Documentary 'Chicago Story' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Participant Media is reteaming with Oscar-nominated filmmaker Steve James and his longtime production home, Kartemquin Films, on his latest documentary, “Chicago Story.” Participant Media will finance the project, which will be produced by James and Zak Piper. Participant’s Jeff Skoll and Diane Weyermann will executive produce with Alex Kotlowitz and Gordon Quinn. James, Piper, and [...]

  • 'Metro 2033' Film Project Halted Because

    'Metro 2033' Film Project Halted Because 'A Lot of Things Didn't Work'

    It appears that MGM’s film adaptation of “Metro 2033” is no longer happening because “a lot of things didn’t work,” according to VG24/7. “Metro 2033” is a novel by Russian author Dmitry Glukhovsky. It was also adapted into a series of successful survival horror shooters from video game publisher THQ and developer 4A Games in [...]

  • Jirga

    Film Review: 'Jirga'

    Buried within the closing crawl of writer, director, cinematographer and co-producer Benjamin Gilmour’s unfortunately cryptic but nonetheless fascinating debut film “Jirga” are shout-outs for security, political and cultural liaisons, as well as an Afghan film advisor. These credits speak, however quietly, to the no-doubt-delicate and clearly arduous making of a film that finds a guilt-ridden [...]

  • Fox Names Benjamin Bach Theatrical MD

    Fox Names Benjamin Bach MD for Germany, Replacing Vincent  De La Tour

    Twentieth Century Fox has upped Benjamin Bach to managing director, theatrical, for Austria and Germany. In Germany he takes over from the long-serving Vincent de la Tour who is leaving after 27 years. Bach has been MD of Fox’s operations in Austria since 2012 and he steps into his new, expanded, role immediately. He will [...]

  • Lois Smith

    Wes Anderson's 'The French Dispatch' Adds Lois Smith (EXCLUSIVE)

    Lois Smith has joined the cast of Wes Anderson’s “The French Dispatch,” Variety has learned. It continues a late-career resurgence for the 88-year-old stage and screen actress. Smith was nominated for a Gotham and Independent Spirit Award for her work in last year’s “Marjorie Prime,” a role that garnered her some of the best reviews [...]

  • Stephan James as Fonny and Brian

    Brian Tyree Henry Breaks Out Big in Jenkins' 'If Beale Street Could Talk'

    The final days of filming writer-director Barry Jenkins’ adaptation of James Baldwin’s “If Beale Street Could Talk” were dedicated to moments that foreshadowed its entire plot: Having run into the recently incarcerated Daniel (Brian Tyree Henry) on the streets of Harlem, the struggling artist Fonny (Stephan James) invites his friend back to his apartment for [...]

  • Dylan O'Brien, Justin Theroux, Angela Bassett,

    Travis Knight on Getting the Call to Direct ‘Bumblebee’: ‘Did You Guys Get The Right Number?’

    “Bumblebee” director Travis Knight admits he couldn’t believe it when Paramount Studios and producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura called him two years ago, asking him to helm the upcoming “Transformers” movie. “My initial question was, ‘Did you guys get the right number?'” Knight joked at Sunday’s premiere of “Bumblebee” at the Chinese Theater in Los Angeles. “You’ve seen [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content