For decades the overwhelming majority of lead roles on television shows have gone to white actors, but a new University of California study has findings that may finally get studio executives to pay more attention to actors of color.

UCLA’s Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies analyzed more than 1,000 scripted shows on cable and broadcast TV during the 2011-2012 television season and found that shows that included more actors of color saw above-average ratings.

The analysis found that for cable television shows, median household ratings were highest among programs with casts that were made up of 31 to 40 percent actors of color. Examples of shows that reflected this level of diversity were “A.N.T. Farm” (Disney), “The Closer” (TNT) and “Falling Skies” (TNT).

Hunts study also found that broadcast shows with the highest ratings had writing staffs that were significantly more diverse — from 21 to 30 percent minority — than those of most broadcast shows.

“It’s clear that people are watching shows that reflect and relate to their own experiences,” said Bunche Center director Darnell Hunt and author of the new study, “Hollywood Diversity Brief: Spotlight on Cable Television.”

People of color make up over 36 percent of the U.S. population, according to the 2010 U.S. Census. Yet, only 11 percent of roles in broadcast television go to actors of color. Cable television scored slightly higher, with about 15 percent of lead roles going to actors of color in the 2011-2012 television season.

“While this brief is just the first snapshot in what we envision as a multi-year study, it certainly lends support to an argument we have been making for a long time,” Hunt said. “Everyone in the industry talks about the importance of diversity, but it clearly isn’t priority one when decisions are made. And it’s not going to be a priority until people realize how it affects the bottom line.”

×
×

Stories not to be missed!

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - JULY 10:  Singer/songwriter Taylor Swift performs onstage during The 1989 World Tour Live at MetLife Stadium on July 10, 2015 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for TAS)

Taylor Swift’s stage malfunction last night exposed exactly what it means to be a pop star

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - DECEMBER 18:  A protestor holds a black lives matter t-shirt during a "Hands Up, Don't Shoot" demonstration in front of the San Francisco Hall of Justice on December 18, 2014 in San Francisco, California. Dozens of San Francisco public attorneys and activists staged a "Hands Up, Don't Shoot" demonstration to protest the racial disparities in the criminal justice system following the non-indictments of two white police officers who killed unarmed black men in Missouri and New York.  (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

The next time someone says 'all lives matter,' show them these 5 paragraphs

greenbook.1

This 1956 guidebook for black travelers is an important reminder of America's racist past