NBCUniversal’s Global Talent Development and Inclusion (GTDI) group announced an expansion of its Spellcheck for Bias partnership with the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media. After a year-long pilot initiative using the tool to create more opportunities for Latinx representation on screen, GDTI will continue to expand Spellcheck for Bias to improve Black and Asian American Pacific Islander representation as well.
Spellcheck for Bias utilizes artificial intelligence to analyze film and television scripts and manuscripts to identify representation of characters and percentage of dialogue by gender, race, sexual orientation, disability, age and body type. It also analyzes unidentified characters along with several other attributes like violence, discrimination and intelligence. Increasing authentic representation and casting opportunities for underrepresented talent is the goal of the tool, which was developed by the Geena Davis Institute in partnership with the Signal Analysis and Interpretation Laboratory (SAIL) of USC Viterbi School of Engineering.
GTDI and the Geena Davis Institute initially launched the Spellcheck for Bias pilot with targeting content from Universal Pictures, Focus Features and DreamWorks Animation, and later expanded to include Universal Studio Group and the Entertainment Content Group. This expansion is intended to help content creators and NBCU creative and production executives prioritize diversity, equity and inclusion in the early stages of the development production processes across NBCUniversal’s film, television and streaming portfolio.
“I am heartened by NBCUniversal’s commitment and ongoing dedication to systemically improve Latino, Latina, Black and AAPI representation in their content company-wide as well as incorporating many insights from our Spellcheck for Bias into upcoming productions,” said Geena Davis. “We are so excited to continue this partnership with NBCUniversal along with Shri Narayanan and his team at USC Viterbi as we expand our Spellcheck for Bias tool.”
“We are encouraged by the impact this research pilot has already made across our company and the industry,” said Peter Cramer, president of Universal Pictures. “Leveraging the ingenuity of the team of experts at the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media as well as collaborating with our creative partners at the Universal Studio Group, Entertainment Content Group and Telemundo, we look forward to further developing this important research tool for Latino and Latina representation as well as other underrepresented groups and bringing Spellcheck for Bias to even more creators across our portfolio.”
To develop criteria for Latino and Latina representation, GTDI assembled a team of advisors, including executives across Universal Pictures, Focus Features, DreamWorks Animation, Entertainment Content, Universal Studio Group and Telemundo, as well as creative partners such as actress and producer Kate del Castillo, Blumhouse Productions’ Bea Sequeira, Brownstone Productions’ Alison Small, Lord Miller’s Aditya Sood, NY Latino Film Festival’s Calixto Chinchilla, Will Packer Productions and Harness, co-founded by America Ferrera.
After implementing the new criteria, which were assessed using active development scripts across the film and television divisions, the Spellcheck for Bias analyses identified increased Latino and Latina casting opportunities and flagged cultural stereotypes in Latino and Latina character descriptions, and subsequent adjustments were made in 20% of the scripts tested.
GTDI will assemble a new team of advisors to expand the research criteria for Black and AAPI representation, again using film, television and streaming content across the NBCUniversal portfolio to test the tool for its effectiveness and potential.
“Solving the complex issues of inclusivity and equity throughout the entertainment industry requires fresh, authentic and innovative perspectives from inside and outside the studio system,” said Janine Jones-Clark, executive vice president of inclusion in the Talent and Content department at NBCUniversal. “While we know we have much more work to do, we are grateful for our creative advisors who helped us take a much-needed step in the right direction. We look forward to building momentum as we continue to work towards advancing every aspect of inclusive storytelling — from casting to narrative.”