Amazon Studios’ commitment to increase the diversity of its shows
Amazon Studios is committed that by 2024, half of all leading roles – directors, writers, producers – in their films and shows will be made up of women and under-represented groups.
The Culver City studio on Wednesday released a new “Inclusion Policy” aimed at improving the portrayal of women and people of color in its films and series. The effort comes as its parent company, retail giant Amazon, has acquired MGM Studios and is trying to respond to long-standing criticism of Hollywood’s lack of inclusion.
But Amazon itself is heating up for allegedly discriminating against its employees.
Darnell Hunt, dean of social science at UCLA and author of the Hollywood Diversity Annual Report, called Amazon Studios’ new guidelines “an important part of a larger holistic approach” to bringing lasting change to Hollywood. But, he said, it’s not about the culture within Amazon proper, or how diversity, equity and inclusion are built into the day-to-day operations of the business.
“How does this affect the leadership roles at Amazon, the people who make the fundamental decisions from the top that impact how people across the organization think about Amazon’s values? ” said Hunt.
Amazon did not respond to a request for comment.
According to UCLA’s Hollywood Diversity Report, women made up just 26% of writers and about 21% of directors last year. People of color made up nearly 26% of film writers in 2020. There are also significantly fewer women and people of color making films with budgets over $ 100 million, according to the report.
Amazon Studios said in a statement that the new guidelines are more stringent than diversity requirements set out last year by the Academy, which hosts the Oscars and has faced mounting criticism centered on a rallying cry from “OscarsSoWhite “.
From 2022, films competing for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science’s “Best Film” award must submit confidential “inclusion” data; and by 2024, they must adhere to specific diversity standards, which have been both praised and criticized for being too indulgent.
Amazon Studios’ new guidelines include the following specific goals for its productions:
- Every movie or series with a creative team of three or more ‘above the line’ roles – directors, writers, producers – “should ideally include at least 30% female and 30% ethnic group / ethnic under-represented “.
- The actual identities of the actors must match those of their characters.
- At least one character must have a speaking role in each of the following categories: LGBTQIA +, person with a disability and three “regionally under-represented racial / ethnic / cultural groups”. A character can fill one or more of these identities, and at least 50% of them must be female.
- Searching for offers from female and minority owned vendors and suppliers.
- Pay equity between the cast, the team and the suppliers.
Among the advisers who helped Amazon Studios develop its new guidelines were representatives from the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, a think tank that studies diversity and inclusion in entertainment.
“Frankly, the results of [diversity equity and inclusion] work in the entertainment industry has not been rapid or radical. In part, this can be attributed to fallacious approaches to breaking down the systemic barriers to entry that have long plagued Hollywood, “said Stacy Smith, founder and director of the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, in a statement.” But now, Amazon Studios has created a new blueprint that will change Hollywood by uplifting those who didn’t have access historically. I am immensely proud of this new policy and I know it will be a game-changer in an industry that is often resistant to real change. ”
Little has been disclosed by Amazon on how it plans to apply the new guidelines.
“You have to get people to do the right thing,” Hunt said. “You can do it with a carrot or with a stick. I’d like to see a conversation about it.”
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